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A statistical look at Sunday's Ravens-Dolphins game

Here's a closer look at this week's game.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

With the upcoming game against the current playoff bound Miami Dolphins, we must wonder what they have done to be more successful in snagging that final Wild Card slot. Here are the basics on what the Miami Dolphins keys to victory have been.

  1. An unlikely dual-threat QB. Hopefully Miami fans aren't taking offense to this compliment. The times I have watched Tannehill, he has had speed, agility, and enough footwork to get by in whatever you want to call that offensive line. Tannehill has 300 yards rushing this season, while also passing for 3,000 yards. The Dolphins are confident in this one time wide receivers legs to speed past defenders. They have ran the option this season, although it definitely is not the go-to scheme for Miami. Tannehill also has over 70% completion rating over the past five games, and with the next game hosting the painful secondary for Baltimore, he must be salivating over the chance to extend that to six.
  2. Chemistry: Tannehill has been more effective this year with his star wideout Mike Wallace. Last year it was tough to watch as they couldn't synchronize on the afterburner speed of Wallace. Something to take note of last season against Baltimore: Wallace had seven receptions for 105 yards and a noteable three dropped passes. I assume Wallace is also excited to be playing against Anthony Levine and Danny Gorrer.
  3. Balance in the offense. It hasn't been rushing only, and also Tannehill hasn't needed to throw 50 passes a game. Lamar Miller has accepted the starting role with Knowshon Moreno being injured and has put up a consistent effort this season.
  4. Defensive talent. The Dolphins possess the fifth-ranked pass rush in the NFL and also the 10th best pass coverage this season. These men hit quarterbacks. They not only break through quickly, but the defensive coverage allows more time for the defense to outplay pass protectors, and pressure the man with the pigskin.

With the noteable keys to victory for Miami. Baltimore must exploit their weaknesses, and snuff out their biggest strengths. The matchups are as follows, according to Pro Football Focus:

  • Dolphins seventh-ranked pass offense | Ravens 13th-ranked pass coverage
  • Dolphins 16th-ranked pass Block  | Ravens 10th-ranked pass rush
  • Miami 16th-ranked rush offense| Ravens eightth-ranked run defense+6

And the flipside to this.

  • Ravens 23rd-ranked pass offense | Dolphins 10th-ranked pass coverage
  • Ravens 22nd-ranked pass block | Dolphins fifth-ranked pass rush
  • Ravens 27th-ranked run block | Dolphins 20th-ranked run defense

Couple of things to take note of, and I'll start with the first three. I have no idea how the Ravens are 13th in pass coverage. Since Jimmy Smith was put on IR, I fully expected the Ravens to be hanging out near the 25th-ranked pass coverage group. Drew Brees threw 420 yards on the Ravens. Rivers blasted them for 383 yards. Albeit they are better QB's in the league, but seriously, the Ravens are not doing well against passing attacks.

I expected the Dolphins pass protection to be lower. Tannehill unfortunately spends a lot of time as a quarterback lying on the turf. I am very confident in the Ravens' pass rush, and if Elvis Dumervil realizes he needs to be behind the ball before the snap they won't be getting penalized anymore.

Having the 27th-ranked run blocking, I disagree with. We have effectively racked up over 1,000 yards with Justin Forsett, consistently establishing a run game. I also know the Jets ran for 210 yards by halftime against Miami on Monday Night Football, and fully expect the Ravens to have at least 70 yards on the ground by half. Forsett has been effective, and I am excited for the Ravens to exploit the defense's main weakness.

The biggest worry is the offense's passing attack against Miami. They held firm against Denver until the second half, and if they can do the same against the Ravens, I expect a loss. Brent Grimes' play could hold off Steve Smith Sr. or Torrey Smith on one side of the field. If the Ravens do not establish the run game, they do not win the passing game. The Dolphins are aggressive and force turnovers.

The keys to victory for Baltimore will be:

  1. Run the ball. Run it hard. Be explosive, and get Forsett through the trenches. This is the most important aspect of the football game. If the Ravens do not run and become one dimensional, they will falter and collapse.
  2. Attack the quarterback. Get to Tannehill. Pressure him to force throws. Make him uncomfortable. If Terrell Suggs and Dumervil can be effective, it will allow this secondary to hopefully cover long enough and for Ryan to force a few bad passes.
  3. Finish off drives. Last week we stalled in the red zone. If the Ravens can put up touchdowns instead of field goals, they will be in the driver's seat.