NFL Game Of The Week #14: Eagles at Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 20: Matt Moore #8 of the Miami Dolphins congratulates Reggie Bush #22 after a touchdown during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles at Miami Dolphins (Sun. Dec. 11th, 2011 @ 1pm(EST.)

Stars Watch:
(Miami): QB Matt Moore -
The Dolphins offense over the last five weeks has been sparked by their improved running game and the pass efficiency of QB Matt Moore. He has completed over 64 percent of his passes and thrown for 8 tds and only 1 int. in the last five games. Moore's decision making and ability to avoid the pass rush has made a big difference in the Dolphins offense. Moore is not afraid to take chances downfield and does what any starting QB should do and that is look for his best player every snap. If he continues to perform well over the last four weeks he should earn the right to be Miami's starting QB in 2012.

(Philadelphia): RB LeSean McCoy - The Eagles have had the most productive running back in the league since week one and he is known as "Shady" McCoy. The young man can do it all. He can run between the tackles, bounce it outside and take it the distance, and has the hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. He is very dangerous in the screen game with juke ability and the homerun speed. He has rushed for 1,134 yards with 12 tds and 3 receiving tds.


Miami Offense vs. Philadelphia Defense: QB Matt Moore with his play might just save coach Tony Sparano's job. He has brought some stability to the offense and his teammates seem to be rallying around him. Miami is a run first team but has been passing more than they have earlier in the season. RB Reggie Bush has really elevated his play as the feature back and has rushed for a career high 667 yards. He should also present a problem for the Eagles' linebackers who have problems in coverage. The Dolphins offensive line has four former first round draft picks that includes 2011 pick center Mike Pouncey and seems to be developing some chemistry. They will need to bring their "A" game versus a Eagles' defensive front line who likes to get after the QB. DE Jason Babin leads the team with 12 sacks and DE Trent Cole has 6 sacks. Philadelphia's linebacking crew has been the area where opposing teams attack. They will need to do a better job in coverage especially against Reggie Bush. The secondary was suppose to be one of the top units with three pro bowl caliber cornerbacks in Asante Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie but they haven't been used scheme wise to take advantage of their talents.

Miami Defense vs. Philadelphia Offense: This unit has come a long way since week one when they gave up 517 yards passing and 38 points to QB Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. They are ranked 5th in scoring defense allowing only about 18 points per game. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has put together a stout unit against the run and has improved against the pass because several key players have healed from various injuries. Miami's front seven will have to keep QB Mike Vick contained and also limit the big running plays by RB LeSean McCoy. The same will go for the secondary led by corners Vontae Davis and Sean Smith who will have to keep WR's DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in front of them and not let them get behind the defense with their superb speed. QB Mike Vick is returning from a ribs injury and is not at 100 percent but just his presence on the field will help the Eagles' defense and get Miami's attention.

Key Stats:
Miami (NFL Rank & Yards) Philadelphia (NFL Rank & Yards)

Rush Off. 13th - 118.4ypg 2nd - 157.1ypg
Pass Off. 23rd - 201.8ypg 10th - 255.5ypg
Rush Def. 5th - 93.2ypg 17th - 115.6ypg
Pass Def. 24th - 248.9ypg 13th - 229.2ypg

Total Offense: 21st 3rd
Total Defense: 15th 17th

Points Per Game: 20.5ppg (22nd) 22.6ppg (16th)

Key Matchups:
WR Brandon Marshall (versus) CB Nnamdi Asomugha:
Marshall is Miami's number one receiver and he and QB Matt Moore over the last five weeks have been on the same page. He has the size, strength, and enough speed to be a threat anywhere on the field. He has 910 yards receiving with 3 td catches and should surpass the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the fifth straight time. Asomugha was signed as a free agent in the off season to help the Eagles defense. He and the entire Eagles defense has under achieved. A lot of that can be attributed to having a new defensive coordinator who has never coached a defense before after being the offensive line coach for the team and having a bunch of new player additions on that side of the ball. Asomugha, before leaving the Oakland Raiders, was considered by many to be one of the top 3 cornerbacks in the NFL. The Eagles need him to return to his All-Pro play and shut down the opposing team's best receiver.


Miami's offensive line (versus) Philadelphia's defensive line: Miami has been trying to field a cohesive unit in coach Tony Sparano's four seasons as head coach. In that time span they have drafted two players in the first round, All-Pro LT Jake Long (2008) and center Mike Pouncey in 2011. They both should be the leaders of the unit for years to come. The unit struggled early in the season with inconsistency and with LT Jake Long recovering from a knee injury. Lately, they have been showing signs of finally becoming one of the top units in the NFL. Philadelphia has had trouble stopping the run all year and Miami is a run first offense that has big physical lineman. The Eagles have plenty of speed edge rushers to attack Miami with if they can force them to pass the ball by stuffing their running attack. These two units could be the difference makers for their respective team.

Final Word: Miami has played some great football over the last five weeks and could spoil a couple teams playoff hopes down the stretch. Coach Tony Sparano has been in the hot seat since the end of the 2010 season and the 0-7 start didn't do him any favors. But his team has rallied the last month or so and if the Dolphins can finish the season strong they might just save the coach's job. The play of QB Matt Moore and the defense have been the driving force behind the resurgence. If Miami can continue to get steady play from QB Matt Moore next year, find a faster and more athletic pass catching tight end, and a speed threat at wide receiver opposite Marshall, watch out. The Eagles on paper were suppose to be a Super Bowl participant. They signed a bunch of highly regarded free agents and had one of the most explosive offenses returning intact led by QB Michael Vick. They lost some close games this season with untimely turnovers, bad execution, and underachieving play. Some football critics and Eagles fans have called for the dismissal of long time head coach Andy Reid. It is funny how, when your team is losing the first thing people scream about is let the coach go, it is his fault. The coach doesn't throw, catch, pass, or tackle. Andy Reid is a great coach and letting him go would be a mistake by the Eagles. Mathematically they still have a chance to win the NFC East division and make the playoffs. Next year they need to hire a better defensive coordinator to put these star players in better situations to take advantage of their strengths and avoid the injury bug to key players. These two teams have pride and will show up to play even if making the playoffs are out of reach.


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