With week 1 of the NFL season now in the books, many Dolphins fans have chose to analyze Miami's struggles in a 30-10 loss to Houston last week instead of looking ahead to this Sunday's matchup, the home opener against the Oakland Raiders. While the Texans showed that they are a Super Bowl calibre team, the Dolphins were able to find several positives from the game including the play of Reggie Bush and Randy Starks, the run defense and the special teams unit.
Like Miami, the Raiders begin the year with an 0-1 record after a 22-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. The eight point defeat allowed the game to appear much closer than it actually was seeing as Oakland's touchdown came with seconds remaing in the 4th quarter and they were unable to muster any sort of offense for most of the night.
This week 2 matchup will provide a fair idea of where the Dolphins stand this season and luckily for Miami all the advantages are in their favour. Here's a look at why Miami should come out with a victory and even their record to 1-1 on the season.
1. The Dolphins Have the Raiders Number
Despite the fact that the Dolphins have been in a rebuild for the past several years and have failed to make the playoffs the last three seasons, the Raiders have a habit of making Miami look like one of the elite teams in the NFL. In the past two matches between these teams, the Dolphins won both in convincing fashion including a 33-17 win in 2010 and a 34-14 victory a year ago. For the last Raiders win against Miami you would have to go all they way back to the 2007 season. Since then the 'Phins have come out on top in three straight occasions when taking on the silver and black.
2. Miami's Stout Run Defense
One aspect of the Dolphins game that stood out to many in the loss to Houston was their impressive run defense and ability to contain the league's best running back. Arian Foster was held to a pedestrian 79 yards on 26 carries while averaging only 3 yards per attempt. The Raiders have their own threat out of the backfield in Darren McFadden however he is certainly not on the same level with the likes of Arian Foster. Against the Chargers, McFadden was a better reciever than running back as he caught 13 passes for 86 yards and only managed 32 yards on the ground on 15 carries. If a young Chargers defense was able to shut down McFadden, a talented Dolphins front seven should have no problems doing the same. The challenge is defending him as a reciever where Miami continually struggles to stop the short pass.
3. The Dolphins Pass Rush Will Put Pressure On Carson Palmer
While 297 yards passing and 1 touchdown is certainly not a bad day's work, Carson Palmer was never able to find his groove against the Chargers as he was sacked three times and knocked down twice. Ensuring Palmer remains on his feet will be a tall task for Oakland's offensive line just like it was last season when the Dolphins pass rushers were in the Raiders backfiled on seemingly every play. Similar to nearly every other NFL quarterback, Palmer crumbles when facing a heavy pass rush and his entire game completely falls apart. With Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby and Randy Starks among others, Miami is in prime position to expose the Raiders' largest weakness; the offensive line.
4. Raiders Wearing Black Uniforms Under the Miami Sun
Throughout all of the major North American sports, there are few uniforms that are more iconic than the silver and black of the Oakland Raiders. While the colors are a significant part of the Raiders identity, they are incredibly uncomfortable to be worn in the scorching Miami heat at 1 pm in the middle of September. The reason for this being that darker colors, especially black, trap heat and ultimately effect the performance of the players. Also don't think for a second that the Dolphins didn't have this in mind when choosing to wear their aqua jerseys for this home game.
Altough many aspects of the game are in Miami's favour, the Raiders are current favourites by a 2.5 point spread. These advantages all add up to a Dolphins victory and a great way to cap off the day the 1972 perfect season is honored at Sun Life Stadium.
For coverage and analysis throughout the Raiders vs Dolphins game be sure to follow @Phins_Phocus on twitter.