NFL football in December is one of the best things to watch in all of sports. The “any given Sunday” rhetoric is exemplified even greater, as upsets come out of nowhere (i.e. New York Giants winning at Seattle). While the Miami Dolphins are not as horrible as they were to start last season, this game could very well push the Kansas City Chiefs to their limit. This is just one of many games across the league in Week 14, where heavy playoff implications are involved. Eight of the current top nine seeds in the AFC will face off this week, which includes this game.
The Chiefs have a knack of shutting out the noise, however, in big games like this. That is especially true on the road. Meanwhile, Miami has always been an environment that has led to bizarre play from opponents at times. The New England Patriots with Tom Brady seemed to never find consistency down there. The Miami Miracle from a couple of years ago stands out. Both teams will be up for the challenge and hoping to keep winning streaks alive. How can either the Kansas City Chiefs or Miami Dolphins emerge victorious? We list our keys to victory for each team below.
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Teven Jenkins
- This Or That: Draft Wide Receiver Round 1 Or Later?
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Kadarius Toney
- This Or That: Eric Fisher Or Mitchell Schwartz?
- Staying Or Going: Chiefs 2021 Pending Free Agents
Kansas City- 3 Keys To Victory
1) Keep The QB Clean
This offensive line for the Chiefs was pushed harder than many expected last week. Denver was able to create pressure from around the edges or up the middle. A similar pass rush awaits this Sunday. We know the interior part of the Kansas City blocking unit has been up and down throughout most of the season. Miami has the speed and awareness at linebacker to utilize multiple zone blitzes. That is a kind of pressure that has given both the blocking and Patrick Mahomes trouble at times.
Moving over to pass rushers at defensive end, Emmanuel Ogbah, Shaq Lawson and Christian Wilkins are impressive athletes. Moving nimbly with a heavy frame, these guys dominate with heavy hands and quick chops. The Chiefs must be aware of how relentless the Dolphins blitz attempts can be. They blitz the second most of any team in football (41.2%). In addition, Miami is tied for eighth in the NFL in sacks (31). If Kansas City is able to withstand that onslaught, it will keep the offense afloat and they will not have to completely rely on additional blockers chipping in.
2) Get RBs Going Early
Last week, we did not see much of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. A non-COVID related illness held him out of two practices, leading to Le’Veon Bell receiving the bulk of the starting reps. Now with both backs expected to be ready on Sunday, Andy Reid would be wise to get them rolling. Edwards-Helaire is the perfect player stylistically to throw into the mix in this kind of matchup. His shiftiness and ability to break tackles will help keep the Dolphins honest on defense. Meanwhile, Bell has started to show his physical side. The patient style that he executed in Pittsburgh back in the day, has not materialized in Kansas City. And that has been for the better for the Chiefs offense. He has still tested on coming tacklers. Also, these two have shown how reliable they can be, if the situation calls for more ball control and clock eating.
3) Shake It Up
Most of this season, the Chiefs defense has thrived in man coverage. Running Cover 0 and Cover 1 tendencies has forced quarterbacks to have to be perfect throughout the duration of contests. Instead, it may be wise to throw in a healthy mix of zone coverage looks against Miami. Tua Tagovailoa will not hesitate to let it launch in one on one attempts deep down the field. Even if the coverage looks to be tight, he believes he has a wide receiver wide open. With bigger bodied pass catchers like DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Mack Hollins, force Tua to have to make the correct read in tight windows or double coverage. This is where Tyrann Mathieu or Daniel Sorensen could win during reps. Elsewhere, the Chiefs should not give speedster Jakeem Grant opportunities to outrace a cornerback one on one.
Miami- 3 Keys To Victory
1) Let It Fly
Generally, the common course that opponents should take against the Chiefs is to run the ball and play keep away from Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. This is a perfect chance to rely on the passing game, though. With a defense in the Dolphins who is stout versus the pass and is second best in scoring, they believe that they can make stops. Force the Chiefs defense to have to cover all levels of the field for a full 60 minutes, while keeping them uncomfortable.
In their own right, Kansas City’s defense is sixth best in scoring. The game could become a shootout, if KC is not careful. As a result, the Dolphins should come out aggressively and make the opponent have to score at least 30 to 35+. That may not seem difficult to do for the Chiefs. But, feeling the pressure to do it and matching Miami, if necessary, could become dicey.
2) Takeaway The Run
We mentioned earlier how the Chiefs should try to get the running backs going early. On the opposite end of the coin, Miami has to be ready to stop and shutdown the run. Obviously, Mahomes is deadly and playing at an MVP level. Nonetheless, the Dolphins have the trust in this secondary to step up to the plate. Led by Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Nik Needham and Eric Rowe, Miami has been eliminating big plays throughout the year. Even if the coverage becomes a bit lax, these defensive backs have the physical side and hard hitting nature that could create turnovers.
3) Be Creative
The Kansas City Chiefs defense has not seen a lot of the RPO action that the Dolphins will show on Sunday. The aforementioned Jakeem Grant is a guy that could give the opponent a big test. His speed and acceleration is near the level of Tyreek Hill, being able to eat up ground quickly. He can go from zero to one hundred at the blink of an eye. Miami can use him on touch passes or end arounds. Furthermore, the Dolphins have not been afraid to pull out tricks out of nowhere. This includes their special teams units as well.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.