This week is a pivotal game for both the St. Louis Rams and the Miami Dolphins. For the Rams, the team needs to prove that they can play without their star wide receiver and show the league that they can win on a consistent basis. For the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill needs to continue to progress as a quarterback, and start pulling out wins in close games against tough defenses, much like they did last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. This is a matchup between the 30th ranked St. Louis passing offense, in terms of yard per game, and the 26th ranked Miami pass defense. It will likely be a low scoring game that will boil down to the 4th quarter. So, what do we at Ramblin’ Fan think will happen? Here are our 5 bold predictions from Sunday’s game…
1. Steven Jackson will have more rushing yards than Reggie Bush
Who has more rushing yards on the season? Reggie Bush. Who is playing against a worse rushing defense? Reggie Bush. So why would Steven Jackson get more yards in this particular contest? Well, with Bush still nursing a knee injury, the Dolphins are likely to split more and more carries between him and Lamar Miller, giving less touches, and less yards, to Bush. Moreover, as a likely result of the injury, Reggie has averaged only 3.19 yards per carry over the last two games. On the other hand, Steven Jackson, after having an extra three days rest, is finally healthy in the backfield and has averaged 3.63 yards per carry in the last two games. With the injury to Danny Amendola, the St. Louis Rams will rely heavily on the run to control the clock and set up the play action pass. All of these factors should push Jackson ahead of Bush at the end of the game.
2. Janoris Jenkins will return a punt for a touchdown
Danny Amendola was a solid return man, but not a game-changing returner. That was precisely why he was back deep to begin with, being sure-handed, non-muffling, and not game-changing for the opposing team with a costly turnover. However, Janoris Jenkins in a true return man and was a threat to take it to the house on every play. Instead of giving numbers, I will just let you watch it for yourself…
3. St. Louis Rams will be ahead of the Miami Dolphins in total sacks on the season
Currently, the Rams and Dolphins are tied for 3rd in the NFL with 15 sacks each on the season. Both teams were drastically helped statistically by the pathetic offensive line play of the Arizona Cardinals. To put that in perspective, the Rams’ Robert Quinn had 3 of his 6 sacks against the Cards, while the ‘Fins’ Cameron Wake recorded 4.5 out of his 5.5 sacks. The difference in this game will not be Quinn versus Wake, rather Long versus Wake. The Dolphins Jake Long should be able to handle Quinn’s speed for most the night, but the Dolphins have no one on the roster that can hold Chris Long rushing off the right side of the line. Cameron Wake will be going up against Wayne Hunter, who has not allowed a sack in two games against two of the top defensive lines in the NFL. Tack on the fact that Michael Brockers is returning to the football in “full” health to draw the interior linemen to the middle of the field and, assuming Hunter can continue to progress as a player, the St. Louis Rams should be ahead of the Miami Dolphins in terms of total sacks on the season
4. Ryan Tannehill will be the third rookie to throw an interception to the Rams
The St. Louis Rams are 2-0 against rookie quarterbacks this season, after beating both the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins. So far, they have allowed a combined 37 of 54 passing for 366 yards, allowing only 1 passing touchdown and 4 interceptions, and holding the rookies to a 44.5 average quarterback rating. Both players have been superior rookie athletes, with outstanding running games, and marginally talented receivers. Sound like anyone else? Tannehill has had more games with interceptions this season than game with a touchdown pass. He has yet to play against a truly dominate secondary, aside from, maybe, the New York Jets, a game in which he completed 44.4% of his passes and ended with an interception, no touchdowns, and another mark in the loss column. Both trends should continue on Sunday…
5. Sam Bradford will throw at least two touchdown passes
As mentioned in the introduction, the Miami Dolphins are the 26th ranked passing defense in terms of passing yards allowed per game. They have allowed 1409 total yards through the air, which notches them at 27th in the NFL, behind the lowly Buffalo Bills defense that has given up nearly 600 yards in two consecutive games, and have given up 7 passing touchdowns (T-17th). To top it all off, the ‘Fins lost starting cornerback Richard Marshall and replaced him with a second-year, limited experience player.
Bradford has actually not been as bad as his number may indicate through five games. He has played well enough in the last two games to pull out wins, and dominated a shaky Washington Redskins secondary for 300+ yards and 3 touchdowns. Against the Cardinals, Bradford completed only 7 passed, which may seem like a horrific performance. However, the Rams had 7 drops in the first half alone, including 3 from the typically sure-handed Amendola. Moreover, of those 7 completions, 2 were for touchdowns, including a 53 yard bomb to a streaking Chris Givens. No player in the Miami secondary can handle the speed of Chris Givens, especially if the defense is stacking eight or nine players in the box to stop Steven Jackson. The Rams may be without Danny Amendola, but are full of possession receiver that are more than capable of creating separation against mediocre cornerbacks. Bradford will find the endzone twice, somehow, someway.