Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) before the season home opener football game against the Green Bay Packers at the new retractable roof Mercedes Benz Dome in Atlanta, September 17, 2017. File photo by David Tulis/UPI
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) before the season home opener football game against the Green Bay Packers at the new retractable roof Mercedes Benz Dome in Atlanta, September 17, 2017. File photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo




KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. TV: CBS, Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 13th regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead series, 8-4. Miami won the last meeting, 27-23, in 2013 as Ryan Tannehill hit tight end Dion Sims on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds left. That victory got the Dolphins off to a 3-0 start that turned into a four-game losing streak, then came Bullygate, etc.

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KEYS TO THE GAME: Figure Miami must score four touchdowns to defeat Atlanta, and go from there.

The Dolphins don't have much going for them offensively, but they need to find answers because the Falcons average 26 points per game.

Miami's best hope, short of finding the key to getting the ground game going, could be big plays as opposed to 10- or 12-play drives. There's a chance the Dolphins could get the running game going with Jay Ajayi and the offensive line, but a big play here or there would help tremendously.


The Dolphins' defense will be challenged greatly by Matt Ryan and Atlanta's offense, although Ryan could be without his top two receivers. Julio Jones (hip flexor) and Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) were both injured before the bye, and the Falcons might lean heavily on running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.


--Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh, who has 10 tackles and one sack, vs. Falcons RG Wes Schweitzer, who will be making his fifth NFL start: Suh will be the best player that Schweitzer has seen since going against Chicago's Akiem Hicks in the regular-season opener. Schweitzer has been playing well in the run game, but will get tested in pass protection against Suh, a four-time Pro Bowler.

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--Dolphins LT Laremy Tunsil vs. Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn. Tunsil played well at left guard as a rookie last season. The Dolphins let go of Branden Albert in order to move Tunsil to left tackle, his natural position, and the former All-American from Mississippi struggled early in the transition. Against the Chargers, he gave up two sacks and three pressures. The hard-charging Clayborn has two sacks and four quarterback hits on the season, so he figures to be a handful for Tunsil.




--Doubtful: WR DeVante Parker (ankle)

--Questionable: CB Xavien Howard (shoulder), CB Byron Maxwell (foot)


--Out: LB Jermaine Grace (hamstring), WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring), DE Courtney Upshaw (ankle, knee)

--Questionable: K Matt Bryant (back)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Dolphins DE Cam Wake. It's the time of the season Wake gets hot. Wake (2.5 sacks) has been using his quick first step and relentless motor to make life rough on right tackles all season, and this week shouldn't be different. In fact, this week might be a jump-off point. In four of the last five seasons, Wake has had three-game stretches during which he has registered at least one sack. In three of the last five seasons he has had four-game stretches of at least one sack. And all of those stretches start in October.

FAST FACTS: Miami RB Jay Ajayi has 344 rushing yards in his past three road games. Since 2016, he has 44 runs of at least 10 yards, fourth-most in the NFL. ... Miami WR Jarvis Landry had a TD catch last week. He has 36 catches in his past five road contests. Since entering the league in 2014, he has 318 catches, fourth-most in the NFL. ... Miami LB Kiko Alonso had a sack and a forced fumble last week. He had an interception in his last game vs. Atlanta, in 2015 with Philadelphia, and has 19 tackles in the past two meetings. ... Atlanta QB Matt Ryan has 460 passing yards, four TDs and one interception in two career games vs. Miami. He has 3,075 passing yards (307.5 per game), 21 TDs and six interceptions in his past 10 home games. He has thrown a TD pass in 23 consecutive games, the longest active streak. ... Atlanta RB Devonta Freeman has 13 rushing TDs in his past 10 games. He has six rushing TDs in his past five home games vs. AFC teams. He is trying for his fifth game in a row with a rushing TD. In his past seven games at home, he has 13 TDs (12 rushing) and 750 scrimmage yards (107.1 per game). ... Falcons LB Deion Jones had eight tackles and a sack in Week 4. He leads the team with 27 tackles.


PREDICTION: If you're still alive in a survivor pool, the Falcons might be your best bet this week. The Dolphins have scored all of two offensive touchdowns the last three games and the Falcons have healed up after a bye week, so this looks like a bad matchup for Miami.

OUR PICK: Falcons, 27-13.

--Bucky Dent

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