Dolphins vs. Colts 2012 preview: Indianapolis, Miami meet in game with potential playoff implications

Scott Cunningham

The Colts host the Dolphins in a game that could have a surprisingly big impact on the AFC playoff picture down the road.

It may not have looked this way at the beginning of the season, but the Week 9 meeting between the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts on Sunday has plenty of meaning toward possible postseason positioning in the AFC.

With both teams at 4-3 overall, the winner will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker edge should a playoff spot come to that. Additionally, if the season ended today, the Dolphins and Colts would be the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively, in the AFC. With the Houston Texans at 6-1, the Colts may have to score a Wild card spot, while Miami remains breathing down the neck of the division-leading New England Patriots, who currently sit at 5-3.

Meet the Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis rallied late in the fourth quarter to tie the Tennessee Titans and force overtime, where they won on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to Vick Ballard, whose spiraling dive into the pylon got the touchdown and the 19-13 win last week.

The Colts have now won two straight and three of their last four contests. With Luck, their passing game ranks ninth in the NFL with 265.9 average yards per game. Defensively they rank seventh in the league in passing yards allowed, giving up 213 yards per contest.

Meet the Miami Dolphins

Winners of three consecutive contests, the Dolphins are coming off a convincing 30-9 victory over the New York Jets in Week 8. They've done it with defense to this point, as Miami is allowing only 18 points per game, which ranks fifth in the league.

Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill is questionable for Sunday's game after suffering a hyperextended left knee and bruised thigh. Should he not be able to go, the Dolphins could also start backup Matt Moore, who went 11-of-19 passing for 131 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Jets on Sunday.

Local Takes: Colts

Josh Wilson from Stampede Blue says Luck's late-game play has Colts fans excited for a postseason run:

"Basically, all this to say that Andrew Luck has been extremely clutch this year and at his best when the game is on the line. That is not something that a normal rookie quarterback can do, and it has fans in Indianapolis excited. Excited about their quarterback. Excited about their future. Excited for this season. And they have reason to be - the Colts are exceeding expectations and are looking to make a push for the playoffs."

Local Takes: Dolphins

Kevin Nogle from The Phinsider gave his Week 8 game ball to rookie defensive end Olivier Vernon:

"In the first quarter, the Jets lined up to punt the ball back to Miami. The normally dreaded, but in this case glorious, double thump happened as Wilson broke through to block the punt. As the ball bounced back behind punter Robert Malone, Vernon caught the ball and crossed the goal line, giving the Dolphins a 10-0 lead.

"Then in the second quarter, Vernon again made a special teams play ... With Nick Folk looking to hit an nearly automatic 35-yard field goal, Vernon managed to get a hand on the ball, blocking the kick and keeping the Jets scoreless in the first half."

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Stampede Blue and The Phinsider, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@StampedeBlue

@thephinsider

@PhilRichards6 - Richards covers the Colts for the Indianapolis Star.

@AdamHBeasley - Beasley reports on the Dolphins for the Miami Herald.

Prediction

From the Week 9 picks:

"A surprisingly meaningful game. If you're like me, you looked at this game before the season as one that could help decide the No. 1 overall pick. Instead, this game could help solve the AFC Wild Card down the road. I'll side with the Dolphins and a defense that hasn't allowed more than two touchdowns in a game since September.

The pick: 17-13, Dolphins."

Odds

The Dolphins opened the week as 3-point favorites on the road, according to OddsShark, but the line has since dropped, currently favoring Miami by only 1½ points. The over/under point total of 43 hasn't changed to this point.

Next Week

In Week 10, the Colts have a short week as they will square off with the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road in primetime on Thursday night. The Dolphins, on the other hand, will host the Titans in Week 10 Sunday afternoon.


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