The Miami Dolphins (6-8) will be traveling to Missouri to face the Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) today at 1pm. The Dolphins will have a daunting task ahead of them, as Arrowhead Stadium is widely regarded as one of the toughest places to play on the road.
The Chiefs of old are back
The task will be even tougher given the fact that the Chiefs have had a bounceback of sorts recently. The Chiefs have won two in a row over division rivals Oakland and Los Angeles. Those wins came after a four-game slide in which it appeared as though the wheels were falling off for Kansas City. With the end of the regular season just around the corner, the Chiefs have found a way to turn it back on again.
It would appear as though the Dolphins are catching the Chiefs at a bad time. Clearly Kansas City has regained focus, as they are looking to lockdown the AFC West and make an appearance in the playoffs. This game has playoff implications for the Dolphins as well. Although it is a longshot, the Dolphins are not quite out of it just yet. In order for them to make the playoffs, they would need to win out over Kansas City and Buffalo and receive help from other franchises.
In order for that to happen, the Dolphins will have to have an answer for rookie sensation running back Kareem Hunt, receiver Tyreek Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce. Once again, the words daunting task come to mind.
The NFL is all about matchups
Miami has had serious trouble defending tight ends this season. Hopefully with safety T.J. McDonald Jr. back in the lineup that might change. Look for the Dolphins to show a lot of different looks on defense, as now they are armed with both of their versatile safeties in McDonald Jr. and Reshad Jones. Kelce will be a lot to handle. Especially since the Chiefs have so many weapons on offense.
It will be tough for the Dolphins to stick to their assignments on defense as Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith will have the opportunity to spread the ball around. This will keep Miami honest on defense. Therefore, you can expect them to be on their toes throughout the game.
It will be interesting to see how Miami responds to all of Kansas City’s formations and creative plays. Defensive coordinator Matt Burke will definitely be tested today. Hopefully he brings the same smarts to Arrowhead that were seen against New England in Week 14.
That, and hopefully there are players who step up and play out of their minds given the circumstances. A strong game by defensive end Cameron Wake or corner Xavien Howard would be excellent right about now. Bringing Smith to the ground and batting down his passes or picking them off will probably hurt his confidence and slow down the Chiefs high-powered offense.
On the flip side, Miami has a ton of exotic formations and plays as well. Head coach Adam Gase has been able to open up his playbook a lot more as of late. The reason being is that the players have shown that they are able to execute and there is not as much freelancing going on. After running back Jay Ajayi was traded to Philadelphia for a 2018 4th round pick that definitely sent a message to the locker room. Thus, there has not been as much freelancing since.
Look for Gase to use running back Kenyan Drake in a variety of ways. Drake has shown his ability to run through and around would be defenders. He has also been effective in the passing game, both as a blocker and a receiver.
It’s now or never
The Dolphins have a chance to finish their season strong with a win or two in these final weeks. They have shown a ton of fight recently after wins over Denver and New England in Weeks 13 and 14.
The Dolphins have proven that they can win a big game on the road, as they upset the Falcons in Week 6. However, they have not been able to prove that they can win consistently on the road. This is evidenced by the fact that the Dolphins have lost to the Jets, Patriots, Panthers, Bills and Ravens all on the road.
Despite this being the case, it is unlikely that the Dolphins are thinking about the past right now. The only thing that they should be focused on is Kansas City. One game at a time. It may sound cliché, but it is the best way to approach these final two weeks. Besides, Kansas City on the road is enough to handle as is. There probably isn’t any room to think about much else.
Look for the Dolphins to bring their A-game to Arrowhead Stadium today. They have nothing to lose. Hopefully they go all-out on each side of the ball, as the Dolphins will probably have to pull out all the stops to pull off the upset. Especially given how focused the Chiefs have been as of late. However, there is a reason that “any given Sunday” is a saying.
- Isaih Battiste is the Managing Editor of Full Press Coverage Dolphins. He covers the Miami Dolphins 365 days a year. Be sure to follow @FPC_Dolphins on Twitter and check us out on Facebook!