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Game Preview: Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins

Game Details

  • Match-up: Green Bay Packers (3-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-2)
  • Location: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
  • Date: Sunday October 12, 2014
  • Time: 12:00 a.m. CST
  • TV: FOX

The Green Bay Packers travel to Miami this Sunday for a noon game against the Miami Dolphins.  While the Packers take substantial talent to South Beach, the Dolphins have a safe lead in the all-time series, leading Green Bay 10-3.  The last time these two teams met, the Dolphins beat the Packers in Lambeau Field, 23-20.  The game took place in October, and went into overtime. Aaron Rodgers was stymied all day while Cameron Wake collected three sacks.

A lot has changed since 2010.  The Packers regrouped, won four in a row, and went on a to win the Super Bowl that season.  Then Green Bay Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin left the Packers after 2011, and is now the Head Coach in Miami.  Philbin’s Dolphins have compiled a 17-19 record since then, while weathering their share of scandals.  The Dolphins are 2-2 on the season, and coming off a trouncing of Oakland and their bye week.

Key Match-Ups

Miami Rushing Offense vs. Packer Rushing Defense

The Packers are dead last in rushing yards against this season, giving up 163 yards per game.  The Dolphins are fifth in rushing offense, running for 142.3 yards on average.  Since the Packers passing defense has been solid, and Miami does not pass the ball well, Miami will need to run well to control this game.

That starts up front, where Miami has been solid all season.  However, center Mike Pouncey was recently injured, and the team is considering moving him to right guard.  His replacement at Center, Samson Satele, is a 29 year-old journeyman he may be exploited.  Facing Green Bay, however, offers the advantage of facing an injured, thus-far underwhelming defensive line, and two average-or-below middle linebackers.  Defensive end Mike Daniels has been terrific, however.  Along with outside linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews, who make flashy plays and are plus defenders in passing situations, he will need to be ready to tend to the run this week.  If those three are not up to the challenge Lamar Miller may have a big day.

Green Bay Wide Receivers vs. Miami Cornerbacks

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has relied heavily on his top-two wide receivers this year.  Together, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have been targeted on just over 56% of the Packers’ passing plays on the season.  When teams can match up with the talented duo, they do well.  Detroit and Seattle both kept Nelson under 100 yards and out of the end zone, while also limiting Cobb.  Both won.  When teams are unable to do this, they have not fared as well.

Miami starts veterans Courtland Finnegan and Brent Grimes at cornerback.  Each is a solid performer.  Grimes is coming off a pro-bowl year, and had the third highest Pro Football Focus grade for cornerbacks since 2010 entering the season.  So far in 2014, they have had relatively easy tasks, and are coming off a dominant performance against the lowly Raiders.

Sunday will not be as easy.  Rodgers has played very well for two straight weeks, and Nelson and Cobb are a handful.  If the Packers passing game is allowed to get rolling, it will be very hard for Miami to keep pace with Green Bay.

Cameron Wake vs. Bryan Bulaga

Miami left defensive end Cameron Wake is a real man, but has not had a sack since week 1.  Bryan Bulaga is the Packers’ long-term starting right tackle, a solid, if not great, player, and the offensive line has certainly performed better since his return from injury in week three.  If Rodgers is given time, the Packers are very difficult to beat.  Most commentators would believe Wake has the ability to make Rodgers day a long one in a matchup against Bulaga.  For Miami to win, he needs to prove that faith correct.

Prediction

The Packers have the higher upside of these two teams.  They are on the road, however, and a dominant performance from the Miami rushing offense is exactly what a team needs to keep Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines.  Miami is also coming off a bye week.  Nevertheless, the Packers have played very well of late, and are coming off a “mini-bye” themselves.  I see Rodgers picking apart Miami using favorable match-ups, and Eddie Lacy building off of week five with a decent performance.  Green Bay 31, Miami 21.