NFL 2019 (Week 8): Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 8): Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

A free-falling Miami team with a revolving door at quarterback. A Pittsburgh team that somehow seems worse than its record would indicate, playing to save its coach’s job. A struggle to maintain standing in the wide-open Coastal division, even though all roads lead to a smack down from a ticked-off Clemson squad...wait, sorry. This was about the Miami Hurricanes playing at the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday, an eventual 16-12 Hurricanes victory. Monday night’s match-up of the Dolphins at the Steelers features something totally different: a free-falling Miami team with a revolving door at quarterback and a Pittsburgh team that somehow seems worse than its record would indicate, playing to save its coach’s job. This game hardly has the star power or playoff ramifications of Sunday’s Packers-Chiefs tilt. However, bad teams can sometimes combine for exciting games.

Dolphins: Winless Miami has, to its credit, become more competitive in recent weeks. After losing their first three games by an average score of 44.3-5.3, their three latest results have been 30-10 against the Chargers, 17-16 versus Washington, and 31-21 at Buffalo. So they are improving. And, like their cross-town collegiate counterparts, the Dolphins cannot settle on a starting quarterback. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen have appeared in five games, though neither has firmly established himself as the team’s best option. Completion percentage and yards both favor Fitzpatrick slightly, but the real distinction comes in the form of negative plays. Fitzpatrick’s touchdown to interception ratio is 3:5, and he has been sacked only six times; Rosen’s ratio is 1:5, and he has been taken down 16 times. The question becomes: do the ‘Fins play a proven entity in Fitzpatrick, or do they ride with Rosen to determine his viability as their future franchise player? Even the Dolphins can’t answer that, as they started the season with the veteran journeyman, only to switch to the youngster, then reverse course back to Fitzpatrick. Head coach Brian Flores has denied allegations of tanking, yet Miami’s future (and present) remains as undecided as a Magic Eight Ball. “Ask again later.”

Steelers: Enough with philosophy – let’s talk facts. And the facts are that Pittsburgh is 2-4, which is worse than even the most cynical Steelers fan would have predicted at the beginning of the year. Looking deeper, though, this team has won two of its last three games, and its three most recent losses were by three, four, and two points, respectively. Then why does it feel like they are so abysmal? You only get one chance at a first impression, as they say, and the Patriots dominated Pittsburgh 33-3 on opening night. Offseason drama also saw both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown skip town, leaving only Ben Roethlisberger as the last of the “Killer B’s”...and then Roethlisberger was lost for the year. Or maybe it’s that the team’s two wins came against 0-8 Cincinnati and the 3-5 Chargers. Or maybe it’s all of those reasons. No matter what, though, Pittsburgh currently sits at 11th place in the AFC standings, and they will need a strong second-half push to even contend for a wild card berth.

Prediction: Pittsburgh shows that, even in a down year, it is much better than lowly Miami.

Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Miami Dolphins 17

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.


NFL 2019