Can the Prodigy QB Take Down the Prominent QB?
By: Tony Longo
The Dolphins Have Their Biggest Test of the Season
The 11-1 Kansas City Chiefs come into Miami Gardens this week to take on the 8-4 Miami Dolphins. Pat Mahomes, the most prominent QB in the league, will lead his team into town as 7.5 point favorites against the aqua and orange. Romo and Nantz are coming to call the game as two AFC playoff-primed teams will battle it out in the gorgeous South Florida weather.
For Kansas City, it is business as usual for the reigning Super Bowl Champions. Patrick Mahomes is a favorite to win MVP, Tyreke Hill is still destroying corners with his speed, Kelce stands alone as the best tight end in the league, and they have a complimentary group of skill players accompanying them. The particularly troubling aspect of the KC team is their lack of ability to run the ball in 2020. Even in closeout 4-minute drill situations such as two weeks ago against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they completely shied away from the run-which nearly let Tampa mount a comeback. Instead, the Chiefs rely on the best quarterback in football to control the outcome of the games. Expect more of that here this Sunday.
As for the Dolphins, who would have thought before the season began the team would be in THIS position? After a 1-3 start, having a playoff birth within reach is astounding. Ripping off seven wins in eight games, they currently hold the 6th seed wildcard spot, and can take care of their own business if they continue to string together some wins.
The big story of the season has been the defense, who has played at a truly efficient clip. Xavien Howard has been the league’s best cornerback. Free agent signings like Kyle Van Noy, Emanuel Ogbah, and Byron Jones have proven to be game changers on the defensive side of the ball, while the unit has played complimentary football overall.
However, Dolphins fans would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the true story of this season: rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tua, the prodigy QB from Alabama, by the grace of the football gods was gift-wrapped to the Dolphins at the number five pick in the 2020 NFL draft. For him, it has truly been an uneventful season. It’s hard to figure out. He’s winning. His QBR is highest among rookies and 10th in the entire NFL. He has yet to throw an interception. He does and says all the right things, and yet somehow, the insatiable Dolphins fan base is still left with hunger for more. We want the flash. The big plays. The five touchdown games. Everything we haven’t had in over two decades.
Is this the week we get it?
Tua may have to take out his notebook when the defense is on the field, because The Chiefs offense is a juggernaut.
Patrick Mahomes is currently rated as the #1 QB in the league per PFF. The offense is also tops in the league per PFF. They are first in yards per game and first in passing yards per game, too. You get the point. They’re really good, and they make it look effortless. A 60-yard bomb to a streaking Tyreek Hill down the left sideline seems to roll off Patrick Mahomes’ arm like warm butter on a filet mignon…just smooth.
The defensive side of the ball is where KC can be vulnerable. A step back from last year’s top 10 in most categories, the Chiefs currently check in as the #16 unit per PFF. They struggle to get a consistent pass rush (#24) even with the likes of Chris Jones and Frank Clark trying to disrupt the line, and their coverage and rushing defensive grades are average at best.
The Dolphins will have to attack the Chiefs where they are vulnerable: the run. While not a strength of the team, the Dolphins running game has been getting better as the season progresses; Miles Gaskin rushed for 90 yards last week and will need another strong showing in this one, as it will be imperative to keep the ball away from the Chiefs offense by extending drives.
That being said, Tua will be the key to this game. Offensively, the Dolphins have been statistically lackluster for most of the season. Tua had his best outing last week against the Bengals and will need to continue that hot streak. His chemistry with tight end Mike Gesicki never looked better this season than it did vs Cincinnati, connecting on 9 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs will score some points, regardless of the Dolphins #2 scoring defense in the league. Tua & Co. will be tasked with keeping up.
I think this will be a close game throughout. Both QBs will throw for over 300 yards and multiple scores. The Dolphins come out victorious with some fourth quarter magic from Tua as he eludes pressure and makes timely clutch throws. Jakeem Grant has his best receiving game of the season, connecting on some deep bombs that should have been made last week.
The Dolphins shock the football world while inching closer to the playoffs.
Miami 31: Kansas City 28