A once promising season has taken a turn for the worse for the Miami Dolphins over the past two weeks. After once again holding their playoff destiny in their own hands during the month of December, the Dolphins now have the smallest of chances to end their long postseason drought. Aside from winning their final two games, Miami will need a lot of help from several teams inside the AFC to salvage their season.
The Dolphins (7-7) have shown throughout the season that they have the talent to be a winning team. They'll need to re-visit those moments in order to close out the season with a pair of wins against sub-.500 teams. The first of those games comes on Sunday when Miami hosts the Minnesota Vikings (6-8). Here are the Dolphins keys to victory over an improving Minnesota team.
Keep Throwing The Deep Ball
While the Dolphins lost in very ugly fashion last week in New England, there was one big positive to take away from the defeat. For the first time all season, Miami was able to connect on deep passes to wide receiver Mike Wallace. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill hit Wallace on a 50-yard bomb on the first play of the game, then later found the speedy wideout for a 35-yard touchdown with five seconds left in the first half. Tannehill also had a sure touchdown dropped by Rishard Matthews that would've been another long completion.
Limit Teddy Bridgewater's Production
It's safe to say that Bridgewater has been the best rookie quarterback in the NFL this season. Thrust into a starting role after Matt Cassel's Week 3 injury, Bridgewater has steadily improved as the year has gone on. He's led the Vikings to four wins in their past seven games and completed at least 70 percent of his passes over the last three games. Bridgewater has also eclipsed the 300-yard plateau in his last two starts and played extremely well last week against the Detroit Lions stout defense.
Stick With The Run
The Dolphins have done a good job running the ball during the first half of most of their games, but generally get away from the ground game after halftime. Lamar Miller is having a very good season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and is 171 yards away from the first 1,000-yard season of his young career.
Take Advantage Of Minnesota's Offensive Line
The Vikings will be starting three backups on their offensive line this Sunday, at left guard, right guard and right tackle. Earlier this season that would've been a huge advantage for the Dolphins defense but their once strong pass rush has all but disappeared in recent weeks. Miami has also been giving up a lot of rushing yards of late, including a three-game span in which they were gashed for 661 yards on the ground.
Protect Ryan Tannehill
After an extremely strong start to the season, the Dolphins offensive line has sprung several leaks over the past couple months. When Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert was lost to a season-ending knee injury things began to get very shaky for the Fins o-line. Backup Dallas Thomas has struggled mightily since being plugged into the starting lineup, and his status for Sunday's game is up in the air after suffering a foot injury last week in New England.
for more features.