FanHouse Preview: Colts at Dolphins
Oh, and then there's that football game. If it doesn't get lost in all the Sunshine State hoopla, it could be a dandy.
Three Key Questions:
1. After scoring seven points in a Week 1 loss to Atlanta, can the Dolphins wake up their offense enough to keep pace with Indianapolis?
2. With Anthony Gonzalez out, will any Indianapolis receiver be able to take the pressure off Reggie Wayne?
3. Will the Colts stay aggressive on defense?
Player in the Spotlight: Chad Pennington. Miami's quarterback was 21 of 29 in Atlanta last week, but totaled just 179 yards as Miami dinked-and-dunked around the field while struggling with the Falcons' pressure -- Atlanta sacked Pennington four times. Indianapolis promises to bring the heat as well, but Pennington has to find a way to stretch the field. The Dolphins' run game could certainly use less eyes on it -- Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams mustered just 82 yards on 17 carries in Week 1.
Indianapolis' Path to Victory: Atlanta's Matt Ryan had his way with Miami's defense, to the tune of 229 yards passing and two touchdowns. Those stats don't necessarily bode well for the Dolphins on Monday with Peyton Manning in town. Wayne stepped up with a 10-catch, 162-yard performance to help the Colts take down Jacksonville in Week 1, but he'll no doubt draw a lot of attention from Miami's secondary. Either Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie will need to make a play or two, and tight end Dallas Clark should get involved early and often. Defensively, if the Colts do exactly what they did in Week 1, which was get after the quarterback and limit big plays, it will be tough for Miami to score.
Miami's Path to Victory: With all eyes on Land Shark Stadium, the Dolphins need to make sure that the sideshows don't steal the spotlight. This is a critical early game for the Dolphins -- the Jets look much improved, Buffalo's playing well and New England, you have to figure, will sort itself out. So Miami's already in a hole in the AFC East, and must play like it. Let Pennington air it out as much as he can, get Pat White and Brown and Williams running the Wildcat, and so on. The last thing Miami can afford to do Monday night is run twice, throw short once, then punt on multiple possessions. Indianapolis will wear down the Dolphins defense if that happens. The Dolphins also might want to consider double-teaming Clark or Wayne on every play, thus forcing Manning to find a third receiving option, or the Colts to run the ball.
Prediction: Miami's Week 1 stinker soured people on the Dolphins quickly, and this tough matchup hasn't helped circle the wagons. But Miami travels to San Diego next week, so this game might be all that stands between the Dolphins and an 0-3 start. The Colts won't give it up easily, though. Manning poses issues for the Dolphins' secondary, and the Colts' blitzing defense has the potential to completely stuff Pennington and the Miami offense. Expect Miami to put forth a very strong effort and be in the game late -- but Manning and the Colts to win the game. Indianapolis 24, Miami 20