Coming off their first win of the season, a 26-18 home victory against division-rival New York Jets, the 1-7 Miami Dolphins will square up with the 5-3 Indianapolis Colts this Sunday at 4:05pm at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts will also be without quarterback Jacoby Brissett who is out due to a knee injury.
Backed behind three passing touchdowns, Miami QB Ryan Fitzpatrick led the way, hitting on 24 of his 36 pass attempts for 288 yards. Fitzpatrick has five passing TDs in the last two games and has been able to factor in former first-round draft pick DeVante Parker, fellow wideout Preston Williams and tight end Mike Gesicki. With Brian Hoyer making his first start since 2017, its likely that the Colts won’t be on offense as much as originally thought, so we’ll see if Fitzpatrick is able to have more of the same consistent production in an away game against the second place team in the AFC South.
Production booming in the passing game
Parker will be another player to keep an eye out for in Sunday’s afternoon game as well, now that he won’t have Williams running beside him after he tore his ACL in the last game. He looks to continue a hot streak of games, as Parker now has had at least 57 yards and four receptions or a TD in four of his last five games. On pace for an 800 yard, eight-TD season, Parker will be depended to carry a heavy workload in the game this weekend if the Dolphins stand a chance at beating the Colts at home. Parker’s four TDs also ties his career high.
“I think the guys have done a really good job the past couple of weeks. We can get better at everything but we’ve definitely gotten closer,” center Daniel Kilgore said. “You can see we’re in games, we really are. We’re not perfect by any means, but things are getting better on a weekly base.”
Gesicki looks to build on expanded role
Williams and Gesicki are both players with big production coming out of last week. They’re both coming off of five-plus catch games each and both with upwards of 70 yards. Gesicki averaged just one catch per game last season, and was a complete non-factor, but this season is different. His six receptions and 95 yards last week were both career highs and he now has 15 catches in the last four games. If the Dolphins expect to keep pace this weekend, Parker and Gesicki will have to do more of the same with Williams lost for the season.
As a rookie, Williams actually happens to be the team’s leading receiver. He had 32 receptions, 428 yards and three TDs on the season.
“I think they’ve all had their specific roles. Each guy knows that they’re going to have to step up to fill Preston’s shoes,” head coach Brian Flores said. “Look, these are competitive guys and I think they’re fired up about the opportunity. I’m confident in all of them as I am in our tight ends, our backs, our line, our quarterback, the entire team.”
Ballage, Laird and Gaskins set to run in Indy
The run game failed to have an impact for the Dolphins last week as the team rushed for only an even 50 yards as a whole. The team is averaging 63.8 rushing yards per game and has only three touchdowns to their four fumbles on the season. If the Dolphins want to make something happen in the run game Sunday, it’s going to be a tall order again.
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Starting RB Mark Walton has been suspended for the next four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy in the offseason. Kalen Ballage is getting the starting nod after falling down to third this season in the depth chart. Ballage hasn’t eclipsed 20 yards in any game this season. He will likely split time with rookies Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskins, who are making their NFL RB debuts.
Hoyer to start for injured Brissett
On the other side of the ball, the Colts’ Brissett has made luck with the first half of the season, throwing for almost 220 yards per game through the first eight games, and has 14 passing touchdowns to only three interceptions to his credit.
However, he is out with a knee injury so Hoyer will start. In relief in Pittsburgh last week, he tossed three scores and nearly helped Indianapolis pull of the upset. Now, Miami will be able to try and take its one-game win streak on the road and pull an upset of its own.
Mack has potential to run away with game
Standing in its way however will be Indianapolis RB Marlon Mack. The Colts’ run game has been effective this season averaging 129.8 rushing yards per contest, with Mack leading the team with 84.9 rushing yards per game. He also has three of the teams’ four rushing touchdowns to this point.
Injury woes in Colts WR core
Miami will look to hone in on Indianapolis’ now No. 1 WR, Zach Pascal, as both T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell will miss the game with injuries. The Dolphins still have their work cut out for them but their eyes should be on a smaller sample size of Mack and Pascal for Sunday.
Miami and Indianapolis will kick off at 4:05 p.m. on Sunday as the Dolphins look to increase their winning streak to two games.