The Steelers can consider ‘Mission Accomplished’ in a number of ways, as they were able to get past the Browns in overtime, as well as not suffer any major injuries in the process that should stop their hopeful deep run into the playoffs.
Now that the regular season is over with, the team will turn their attention to the Miami Dolphins, a team that beat them up 30-15 earlier in the season, and a team that could have a big question mark at quarterback entering the postseason.
A couple early in the week things to look for as the Steelers and Dolphins prepare to meet in the postseason for the first time in 32 years.
1. The Dolphins QB Situation
Matt Moore has played the last few games in place of injured Ryan Tannehill, who was having a decent season for Miami until he went down in a win over the Cardinals with injuries to his MCL and ACL.
Here’s the latest on the normal Dolphins starting QB from Pro Football Talk:
Per multiple sources, the Dolphins simply don’t know whether Tannehill will be able to return from a Grade II MCL sprain and a slight tear of the ACL that occurred three weeks ago today.
Whether the Dolphins will play on Saturday or Sunday could be a factor in the final analysis. Coach Adam Gase has said that, ultimately, the decision will be driven by whether Tannehill risks aggravation or re-injury that would impair his ability to be ready for the start of the 2017 season.
Now that we know the game is Sunday, the extra day of prep could help out Tannehill, but again we should know more about that as the week goes on.
2. Miami’s D-Line’s Ability to Pressure Ben
If there’s an area of the Dolphins D the Steelers have to be better prepared for this time around it’s the Miami defensive line. They pressure Ben the first meeting, and Cameron Wake and Andre Branch are two players that have to be accounted for.
Tom Brady, as he normally does, shredded the Dolphins D Sunday and was able to avoid pressure by getting the ball out quickly. That’s not as much Ben’s game, as his strength is to wait for his wide outs and TE’s to get open downfield, which means he has to get ready for a rush from the Miami defensive line.
If the Steelers offensive line holds up as it has the last few games, that bodes well for the black and gold.
This defense has also proven it struggles against quarterbacks who get the ball out quickly. Brady did that 33 times with ease on Sunday and was sacked exactly zero times for his trouble.
3. Can’t Let Jay Ajayi Get Rolling
The Dolphins running back raced though and past the Steelers for over 200 yards in the first meeting, but this time there will be no surprises and those yards need to be a LOT more hard to come by.
It was alarming to see Isaiah Crowell run for over 150 on the Steelers Sunday, but again keep it in perspective that it was against mostly backups in a game that meant little.
Despite that, the Steelers run D has improved greatly since that first meeting in South Florida, but stopping Ajayi who was a driving force as to why the Dolphins won 9 of their last 11 is going to be a huge key Sunday.
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