The Miami Dolphins will face the Cincinnati Bengals in their final home game of the 2019 NFL season. The game, full of huge 2020 NFL Draft implications, will be played in heavy rain and thunderstorms.
Flores on thunderstorms impact
“Just ball security. It’s something that’s obviously got to be a high priority whether it’s regardless of the weather – inclement weather whether it’s rain or snow or wind, whatever it happens to be,” Miami head coach Brian Flores said. “So taking care of the football – that’s anyone who touches the football – snapper, punter, holder, receivers, backs, quarterback obviously, making good decisions at that position and then just making it more of a priority to take care of the football when we’re running with it, catching it, putting it away.”
How this game impacts the NFL 2020 Draft immensely
The 1-11 Bengals currently hold the number one overall pick in the 2020 draft, but the 3-13 Dolphins could still wind up with it.
If Miami loses out and Cincinnati wins out the Bengals would own the tiebreaker, hurting them, and land with the second overall pick. Miami only has to worry about the New York Giants if it were to lose out, but even if the Dolphins and the Giants finish with the same record, New York owns the pick behind Miami with its win last week over the Dolphins. Miami closes its season in New England after this week, while Cincinnati closes at home against Cleveland.
Joe Mixon will lead Bengals
Entering tomorrow however, these two teams will see heavy thunderstorms throughout the afternoon and 10-20 mile-per-hour winds during the game. This bodes well for Bengals running back Joe Mixon. Mixon has back-to-back games with more than 130 scrimmage yards, and those statistics have not come in garbage time; especially in the team’s game vs the Patriots.
Cincinnati is relying heavily on Mixon with the return to quarterback Andy Dalton back in the lineup for its last two games. Mixon has 23 and 25 carries respectively in those previous two games, second and third this season only to his 30 carries against the Baltimore Ravens in week 10. With not only the shakiness of Dalton, but the 31st ranked rush defense for Miami, paired with the weather, Mixon will be the workhorse in the game.
“I think we’ve had both success and struggles on the edge, inside, in the C-gap which is basically right in between the middle and outside. All of it’s important. So you want to be strong inside, really out and I think we need to do a good job – a better job – of being more consistent across the board in the run game,” Flores said.
Fitzpatrick, Laird will lead Dolphins
For Miami, its leading rusher is currently Ryan Fitzpatrick with the turnover rate of the Dolphins rushers this season. Fitzpatrick currently has 219 yards, paired to starting RB Patrick Laird’s 155. Sunday will mark Laird’s fourth career start, where he averaging 3.2 yards per carry. Laird will be looking for his career rushing touchdown, while Fitzpatrick has three on the season.
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DeVante Parker eyeing first 1,000-yard season
Fitzpatrick should also have a decent day through the air even in the rain. He’ll have No. 1 wide receiver DeVante Parker, a top-10 receiver in the NFL this season, removed from any worry of his concussion suffered a few weeks ago. Parker is already having a career year, but needs just 46 yards for 1,000 yards on the season. His previous career high was 804 yards, and Parker could also eclipse double-digit TDs for the first time in his career. His previous was eight.
Cincinnati will be blown out without WR help
Cincinnati wins this game if Dalton is on and has his own WRs step up. Tyler Boyd (No. 1), John Ross (No. 2), Alex Erickson (No. 3/4) and Auden Tate have been Jeckyll and Hyde receivers all season. Miami gets the inclement weather to help them, but the Dolphins have moved up to the middle of the pack in pass defense throughout the season. Despite the injuries, the defensive unit is playing better as a whole.
“No. It’s nothing like it was in the beginning. In the beginning, I didn’t really – compared to now – I didn’t really understand the defense. It’s just a work in progress and we’ve definitely been doing that,” linebacker Jerome Baker said.
1972 Perfect Team to be honored
Additionally, Miami will honor its perfect 1972 team at halftime of this game as part of the “NFL 100 Greatest” movement that this year’s season has revolved around. This team was named the best team in the NFL’s 100-year history.
“It’s always special to be around the guys who came together to accomplish what no other team in the 100-year history of the NFL has ever done – the perfect season,” said Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula. “It’s only fitting as the League closes out this milestone season that the 1972 Dolphins are officially recognized with an honor that we always knew was true – that they are the greatest team in NFL history.”