Jekyll & Hyde: Which Dolphins Team Will Show Up Against Panthers On Sunday?
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By Danny Cox
Perhaps the biggest win of the season for the Carolina Panthers came on Monday night as they downed the New England Patriots. It allowed them to be seen as a true force in the NFC and pushed their winning streak to six games. Now, they’ve got the up-and-down Miami Dolphins on the road, and it is the perfect set-up for a trap game.
Ever since starting the season a surprising 3-0, the Dolphins have gone 2-5 through the last seven games. Three of those losses were by a combined seven points so it isn’t like they were blown away in any of these contests.
Now the Dolphins have won two of the last three by taking down the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals and the always tough San Diego Chargers.
The Panthers are primed for a trap game, and the Dolphins are the perfect team that could give it to them. Making it hard to prepare is that you never know which Dolphins team is going to show up – the one that went 3-0 to start the season or the team that gave Tampa Bay its first win of the season in Week 10.
Dolphins on Offense
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill isn’t having a great season, but he’s having a decent one. He has 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season, but he has a good number of weapons to throw to. Four Dolphins have over 300 yards receiving on the season and seven have caught touchdowns.
Many expected Mike Wallace to be the primary target for Tannehill this season, but it has once again been Brian Hartline. And anyone that saw the game against the Chargers saw the speed and strength of tight end Charles Clay who can plow over anyone in his way.
Coming out of the backfield, Lamar Miller is the primary back for the Dolphins and he’s having an average season. Daniel Thomas gets in on the act sometimes as well, but Miami is not a big running team and that’s not something Carolina should worry much about.
Dolphins on Defense
Defensively, the Dolphins aren’t great, but they have some key players of which Cam Newton and the Panthers need to be aware. Dannell Ellerbe is Miami’s leading tackler with 70 on the season and he also has one sack and one interception.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon could really bring trouble for Newton. He has speed, strength and agility that allows him to get around offensive lines and into the backfield often. Vernon is second on the Dolphins with 5.5 sacks on the season and he is followed up by Miami’s other defensive end, Jared Odrick who has 4.5.
Carolina’s biggest problem is going to be another defensive end by the name of Cameron Wake. He leads Miami with 6.5 sacks and his presence is always felt on the field, but it is when you least expect it. He’s hard to keep an eye on and will be rushing through the line before anyone knows it.
Coming off of playing one of the best teams in the NFL (New England), the Panthers really can’t fall asleep against the Dolphins. They are not great, but they’ve played well many times this season and have beaten some really good teams.
It has all the makings of a trap game, but Carolina has the skill and ability to win their seventh in a row if they take it seriously.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.