The Pittsburgh Steelers are on a roll and don't look to be slowing down any time soon. The Miami Dolphins, on the other hand, are trapped in a downward spiral. These teams face each other in Week 6 with their seasons going in decidedly different directions.
The Steelers have been red-hot since getting Le'Veon Bell back from suspension. They crushed the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 and followed that up with a convincing 31-13 victory over the New York Jets last week. Pittsburgh now sits at 4-1 and has a commanding lead in the AFC North, with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals stumbling in recent weeks. Ben Roethlisberger was nearly flawless, throwing for four touchdowns, 380 yards, and zero interceptions on 34-of-47 passing.
Roethlisberger is having yet another fantastic season, leading the NFL with 15 touchdown passes through five games. In addition, Antonio Brown continues putting in work as one of the best receivers in the league, with 37 catches for 447 yards and five touchdowns. Sammie Coates seems to be finally tapping into his potential, having a season-best game last week with six catches for 139 yards and two scores. He's far from a finished product, though -- Coates committed several bad drops that could've led to even more points for Pittsburgh.
While the Steelers are peaking, the Dolphins are flailing about at 1-4. They suffered yet another humiliating loss in Week 5, getting manhandled 30-17 by a Tennessee Titans team that struggled to find much offense this year. Ryan Tannehill had another dismal game, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns while managing just 191 passing yards.
Tannehill's regression has been alarming this year -- he has seven interceptions to just six touchdown passes, and his pocket awareness has seemingly vanished, taking a number of blindside sacks and not taking care of the football. Head coach Adam Gase was brought in with a reputation for being a quarterback guru, but he's had his work cut out for him trying to get something out of Tannehill.
Miami's lack of a running game hasn't helped manners. Ever since Arian Foster went down in Week 2, the Dolphins have trotted out an uninspired committee of Jay Ajayi, rookie Kenyan Drake, and Damien Williams. Foster is tentatively expected to return this week, although the 30-year-old's health can't be taken for granted.
With the team spinning its wheels at 1-4, Gase has sent a strong message to the locker room, making a number of benchings and cuts over the weeks. The Dolphins made two more cuts after last week's loss, releasing offensive linemen Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas. Barring a quick turnaround, Miami's playoff hopes are just about done, with the New England Patriots on top of the division and the Buffalo Bills surging.
If that turnaround is going to happen, it will have to start by slowing down Pittsburgh's offense. That's going to be a tall order with Miami's defense ranked 28th in yards allowed per game and 16th in pass defense. They also have the league's worst run defense, surrendering more than 150 rushing yards per game. Bell could have a field day, and if the Dolphins fall behind early it will makes things that much tougher for Tannehill to get back on track.
How to watch
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Place: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
Online: Sunday Ticket