Three reasons why the Dolphins will win:
—From the Redskins’ standpoint it would be a great story if rookie guard Brandon Scherff could battle Ndamukong Suh to a stalemate. But the reality is that, while Scherff may visit many Pro Bowls in the future it is likely that Suh will get the best of him. This will have Kirk Cousins on the run, unable to get rid of the ball quickly and will disrupt the Redskins’ plans to control the game by keeping the ball on the ground.
—Even if Scherff is able to hold his own against Suh the Redskins’ revamped offensive line will have to go up against two other very good defensive linemen in Cameron Wake and Earl Mitchell. Someone is likely to get through frequently.
—Ryan Tannehill has improved every year he’s been in the league. If he takes a step up from last year, when he passed for over 4,000 yards and threw just 12 interceptions in 590 pass attempts, he will be tough to handle. Despite some changes the Redskins’ secondary remains suspect and Tannehill could have a big day
Why the Redskins will win:
—DeSean Jackson can take the top off of a defense. He may play a limited number of snaps as he works his way back into game shape and Kirk Cousins might not always have time to throw deep but it only takes one to change the complexion of a game.
—Matt Jones could be a secret weapon for the Redskins against the Dolphins defensive front. The rookie running back may not do to well slamming into the line. But he is also good catching passes out of the backfield and he has great feet when he’s out in space. A good way to beat the pass rush would be for Kirk Cousins to flip the ball to him about half a dozen times and see what he can do.
—Tannehill cut down on the number of sacks he took, from 58 in 2013 to 46 last year. That’s a solid improvement but it’s still in the bottom third in the league. Ryan Kerrigan, Jason Hatcher, Preston Smith, and Trent Murphy could have their shots at the quarterback. If they hit home it could be a long day for Tannehill.
This is a winnable game for the Redskins even though the Dolphins are probably the better team. In a game where defenses should dominate a deep pass or two to Jackson or a big gain on a swing pass by Jones could tilt the balance.
But the Redskins aren’t ready to win a game like this. The matchup reminds me of the Redskins playing the Texans a year ago. They didn’t play horribly but Houston had a dominant defensive lineman in J.J. Watt who disrupted things just enough and Washington made just enough mistakes (giving up a blocked punt and a block extra point and losing two fumbles in Houston territory) to lose. I am not yet convinced that the Redskins are immune from such gaffes.
Dolphins 24, Redskins 17