In week 14 of the 2020 NFL season, the Miami Dolphins will face perhaps its toughest opponent of the year: the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. In the matchup that appears to favor a win for the Chiefs in pre-season predictions, fans will get to see a wide receiver matchup take place between Albert Wilson of the Dolphins and Sammy Watkins of the Chiefs.
Wilson, Watkins Have Jumped Around as Six-Year Veterans
Both guys came into the league in 2014 looking to become dominant forces on their teams. Statistics show Watkins dominating against Wilson in week 14, but with both players not being the No. 1 option on their teams and having a lengthy injury history, will it be a clear runaway for Watkins in their matchup?
Watkins: Team Transfers, Injuries
Watkins is entering the 2020 season on his third team professionally. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2014, played with them for a few seasons before joining the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 for one year, and has been on the Chiefs ever since. He had his best season in 2015 though with the Bills, catching 60 passes for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns.
Since he has been with the Chiefs, he has not been utilized as much as he was with the Bills. He caught 40 passes in 2018 for 519 yards and three TDs and in 2019 he caught 52 passes for 673 yards and an additional three scores.
Looking at his growth with the team in his two seasons with the Chiefs, his level of production has the opportunity to go up with a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes leading the way. His injuries have seen him miss time in both seasons and hasn’t quite looked 100-percent after suffering his foot injury a few seasons ago. That, and being behind NFL superstars WR Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce has without a doubt stunted his production.
Wilson: Used as Backup Receiver Most of Career
Wilson on the other hand has not had the opportunities that Watkins has had in terms of being effective offensively. In his six seasons with the NFL, Wilson was the backup receiver on both the Chiefs and his present Dolphins team.
He caught his most passes in a single season in 2019 with 43 receptions, and the most receiving yards he caught in a single season was 554 that came in 2017. Wilson has not been on the receiving end of many scoring plays, but that changing with Miami in 2020 could lead to his biggest season in the league. He also has the opportunity to be relied on even further if WR Preston Williams isn’t ready to go for the season opener after tearing his ACL last November.
Chiefs Set Up Future with Mahomes Deal
The Chiefs just won the Super Bowl and they just finished giving Mahomes perhaps the biggest paycheck in professional sports history. After winning the big dance in comeback fashion they knew they had to keep Mahomes there to benefit the franchise in the long haul. This in turn would only benefit WRs as well.
Miami’s Rebuilding Happening Quicker Than League Realizes
On the flip side, the Dolphins have been in rebuilding mode trying to make a team that can contend for a ring in the near future. They had a great offseason in terms of drafting and free agency that can help improve both their offensive and defensive tenacity in the new decade.
Miami drafted its franchise QB-hopeful in Tua Tagovailoa to take over after current starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick leaves the team. Fitzpatrick is on the final year of his two-year contract and is in the later stages of his career. The Dolphins could re-sign him after this season after what he has done for the franchise, but he’d likely assume the backup QB role after 2020.
AFC East Up For Grabs
The AFC East is also more open then it has been for years. The New England Patriots have fallen on the totem pole after losing two-decade-veteran QB Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but may have some new life after signing veteran QB Cam Newton just weeks ago. The Bills are also in contention for the division after a double-digit win total and playoff berth in 2019. They’ve added more key pieces and look to be an obstacle in the road for the Dolphins.
Wilson, Watkins: Similar Roles, Improvements Expected
Improvements both players need to make are very similar in most regards. First, since they are both not the No. 1 options on their teams, they need to work to get more involved in plays. Second, since they are both veteran receivers they need to become more vocal leaders to their teams. They have been in the league for six years apiece, while circumstances may favor one over the other, their roles have proven to be nearly identical from field position to team role.
In a matchup between similar receivers, both players will help impact their teams the same way in week 14. Wilson gives Fitzpatrick another receiver to throw passes to that can be exceptional out of the slot, while also offering his rushing abilities (even if used very sparingly).
Wilson, Watkins Matchup Comes Down to a ‘T’
While WR DeVante Parker will be the No. 1 WR, Wilson can help lift the Miami offense in the short yardage while Parker goes up against a weak Kansas City passing game looking for big plays.
The same thing can be said about Watkins in the Chiefs offense as well. Mahomes has another weapon he can throw passes to against a struggling Dolphins pass defense that offers him opportunities out of the slot and in both short and long yardage.
Between the two receivers, who will have the better day? This one depends on who is utilized more in week 14. It’s easy to say Watkins because the Chiefs are that much more superior than the Dolphins on offense, but at the same time, Wilson could take the doubts fans have against Miami in the game when it comes time to play Kansas City.