NFL Saturday Night Football: Dolphins/Raiders Preview

by Alec McMordie

The Saturday triple-header in the NFL concludes with Miami playing in Las Vegas at 8:15 PM ET on the NFL Network in a game with playoff implications for both teams.

Miami controls its fate to make the playoffs with their current 9-5 record. The Dolphins are tied with Baltimore for the seventh and final spot in the AFC playoff race but own the tie-breaker against the Ravens with a better conference record. They won for the third time in their last four games with their 22-12 win at home against New England last week.

Despite being without running back Myles Gaskin, wide receiver DeVante Parker, and tight end Mike Gesicki, Miami generated 383 yards of offense against the Patriots. Undrafted rookie running back Salvon Ahmed from Washington became the first Dolphins rusher to gain at least 100 yards in 32 games with his 122-yard effort. The offense was missing their top-five receivers in terms of catches as well, but rookie Lynn Bowden has stepped up with 17 receptions from his 20 targets over the last three games for 160 yards.

Rookie Tua Tagovailoa completed 20 of 26 passes for 145 yards with an interception in the victory. In his eight games, including seven starts, he has completed 63.8% of his passes for 1359 yards with nine touchdown passes and just two interceptions. But he is only averaging 6.47 yards-per-attempt.

The Dolphins lead the NFL by allowing 18.4 points-per-game. Their 26 takeaways are tops in the league, and they have generated nine turnovers in their last four games. But their victories against Arizona and the Los Angeles Rams are their only two wins this season against teams that have a winning record going into Week 16.

Las Vegas has lost four of their last five games to spoil their 6-2 start to the season. The Raiders are technically still alive to make the playoffs, but they must win their final two games and get some help from the Dolphins and Ravens losing their remaining games. Las Vegas comes off a crushing 30-27 loss at home in overtime to the Los Angeles Chargers Thursday.

Backup quarterback Marcus Mariota played in relief for an injured Derek Carr to complete 17 of 28 passes for 226 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The former Titans’ quarterback added another 88 yards with a touchdown with his legs. Head coach Jon Gruden has been mum on who his starting quarterback will be in this game. Carr’s groin injury has improved this week, and he is clear to play. He is completing 68.1% of his passes for 3396 yards with 24 touchdown passes. But five of his seven interceptions have taken place in his last five games.

Besides these turnovers, the Raiders’ defense has let them down during their current slide. They have allowed their last five opponents to average 36.0 points-per-game. Las Vegas has only five sacks during that span. Their lone win in these previous five games was against the 1-13 New York Jets in a triumph aided by the all-out blitz from Gregg Williams on their final-play touchdown pass that got the defensive coordinator fired the next day.

The Raiders will be without defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who is out with an injury. Linebacker Nicholas Morrow was added to their COVID list to join linebacker Nick Kwiatoski. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst is questionable with a calf injury.

Miami activated running back Myles Gaskin this week from their COVID list. Guard Solomon Kindley is out with his knee and foot issues. The Dolphins have five players listed as questionable: guard Ereck Flowers; tight end Mike Gesicki; wide receiver Jakeem Grant; defensive end Shaq Lawson; wide receiver DeVante Parker.

BetAnySports lists the Dolphins as a 3-point favorite with the total set at 47.5.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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