Predicting the outcome

There's only one team having as bad a season as the Dolphins this year, and the Dolphins will get a first-hand look at it on Sunday when they face the San Francisco 49ers. This battle between two 1-9 teams has been dubbed the "Game of the Weak." Can the Dolphins finally get their second victory of the season? Here's how we think the game will unfold.

The one difference between the Dolphins and 49ers this season is that San Francisco was expected to be bad from the start.

San Francisco dumped some key players in the offseason, most notably Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens, because of salary-cap issues and they really haven't been able to replace them.

The 49ers decided that Tim Rattay could get the job done at quarterback, and while his quarterback rating is respectable he has been very inconsistent.

It doesn't help that the 49ers don't have a stud wide receiver on their roster. In fact, their best receiver all season has been tight end Eric Johnson, and the Dolphins will have to play close attention to him on Sunday.

The running game has been a major disappointment for the 49ers, and the Dolphins should be able to contain Kevan Barlow after the way they stopped Shaun Alexander at Seattle.

The Dolphins will start Eddie Moore and Derrick Pope at linebacker, so perhaps that's a concern, but the feeling is that the 49ers won't have that much success offensively.

On the other side of the ball, it's the same issue for the Dolphins. Can they avoid the big mistakes that have haunted them, such as A.J. Feeley's interception in the final minute at Seattle.

The Dolphins will be hurt by Sammy Morris not playing at running back because Travis Minor is better suited as a change-of-pace guy. So the Dolphins might have problems establishing any kind of a running game.

They should be able to throw the ball, however, against a secondary that has been decimated by injuries. The 49ers will be without starting corner Ahmed Plummer (neck injury) and Jimmy Williams is doubtful because of a toe injury.

Just like every other opponent, San Francisco probably will do a lot of blitzing against the Dolphins, so don't be surprised to see Feeley get sacked three or four times.

But the numbers will be there; it's just a question of avoiding the big interception. Unfortunately, the Dolphins haven't done that all year, so why should things be different Sunday.

This is a game the Dolphins really should win, but this is such a weird year. And besides, the toll of being away from home for eight days might become a factor.

The call: 49ers 20, Dolphins 17.


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