In arguably the most important preseason game of the year, the Miami Dolphins will host the Atlanta Falcons in their newly renovated stadium in Miami. Both teams are coming off of disappointing seasons last year, where each team had chances to make the playoffs in late season surges.
This year, both teams have made splashes in the offseason. The Falcons have hired new head coach Dan Quinn, and added defensive end Vic Beasley in the draft. The Dolphins have made many personnel changes, none bigger than adding defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who has disrupted passing pockets often and early in his first two preseason games as a Dolphin.
While this game is crucial for those players on the fringe of the roster, I am most eager to see how the new stadium looks with fans. I imagine this game will be close to sold out, as it is the Dolphins’ first home game since the upgrades to the stadium have been put in place.
For me, I will be focusing on the kicker position for the Miami Dolphins. Caleb Sturgis had a much better game against the Carolina Panthers last week, but still has yet to completely separate himself from the rookie Andrew Franks. I suspect we will see the two trade off duties on kickoffs, extra points and field goals in this game. Whoever can be the most consistent across all three aspects of the kicking game should emerge the starter.
Next, I am also eager to see who steps up at running back for the Dolphins. So far Lamar Miller and Damien Williams have made it clear that they are the top two options for the Dolphins. Will it be Jay Ajayi or LaMichael James penciled in as the third starter? If the Dolphins only keep three running backs on the roster, who will get moved to the practice squad or take their talents elsewhere?
Finally, I am praying that nobody gets injured in this game. This is often the game that the starters will play longer than usual, and I am simply hoping that an injury such as the one to Jordy Nelson does not happen to either team. When in doubt, take the starters out!
Saturday’s game against the Falcons should prove to be a good one. Both teams have two of the league’s most talented offensive rosters, and both teams have bolstered their defensive lines this offseason. My prediction? Miami takes this one at home, 24-21.
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