The Miami Dolphins seemed to be a reinvigorated bunch under new head coach Dan Campbell last week, and they're expected to carry that momentum into Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.
The Dolphins defeated the Tennessee Titans 38-10 in Week 6, two weeks after Joe Philbin was canned. The offense, which is currently the ninth-worst in the league, woke up in a big way. Ryan Tannehill threw for 266 yards and two touchdown passes, and running back Lamar Miller scored his first rushing touchdown of the season. He gained 113 yards on 19 carries.
But arguably even more impressive was the performance of the Dolphins' defense. Defensive end Cameron Wake recorded his first four sacks of the season and also forced two fumbles. The veteran defensive unit bullied rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota all afternoon long, sacking him six times and picking him off twice.
It seemed as if members of the defense took their cues from Campbell, who said in his introductory press conference he wants players who "toe the line" of being dirty. Defensive lineman Olivier Vernon may have taken those words too closely to heart after he was fined this week for a low hit on Mariota.
But being too aggressive on defense is better than being too passive, which is what the Dolphins were prior to Philbin's firing. This revved up unit should be ready to pounce on a patchwork Texans offensive line.
Houston played well last Sunday, too, ousting the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-20. Brian Hoyer made his first start since Week 1, completing 24 of 36 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins led the way with 148 yards receiving and two touchdown grabs.
It's unlikely that a thin Dolphins secondary will be able to contain Hopkins, so in order to win Sunday, the Dolphins will probably have to wreak havoc in the Houston backfield. That's exactly what the experts think this high-priced defensive line will do. Miami is a huge favorite at ESPN, as well as at CBS Sports, where all but one panelist is picking the home team.
Meanwhile, only Stephen White on our SB Nation panel has any faith in the Texans.
|Ryan Van Bibber||Stephen White||Joel Thorman||David Fucillo||Danny Kelly||Matt Ufford||PFT Commenter||OddsShark Computer|
|HOU @ MIA||MIA||HOU||MIA||MIA||MIA||MIA||MIA||MIA|