Miami Dolphins vs. Las Vegas Raiders: Who has the edge?
Here’s a look at how the Miami Dolphins (6-3) and Las Vegas Raiders (5-5) match up in six key areas ahead of Sunday’s Week 11 game at Hard Rock Stadium (1 p.m., CBS):
When the Dolphins run: This game could mark the return of rookie phenom De’Von Achane, as he’s back practicing following his minimum four-week absence from injured reserve placement, plus a bye week for extra recovery. If he’s back, look out, as the speedy home run threat is averaging 12.1 yards on his 38 carries.
If Achane isn’t in the backfield, the Dolphins still have Raheem Mostert to shoulder the workload, with Jeff Wilson Jr. and Salvon Ahmed sprinkled in, although it was peculiar that Ahmed play more snaps than Wilson in Miami’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany. The Miami offensive line, though, could be without multiple starting guards. Isaiah Wynn is still on injured reserve, and Robert Hunt and Robert Jones are working back from hamstring and knee injuries, respectively. It could mean Lester Cotton and Liam Eichenberg are leaned on at the two guard positions, although the recent returns of left tackle Terron Armstead and center Connor Williams to the lineup provide a boost.
The Raiders are not doing a good job against the run, ranking 29th in rushing defense. They’ve been a little better since Antonio Pierce took over as interim coach for the fired Josh McDaniels, but they still surrendered triple-digit rushing yards in wins over the New York Giants and Jets the past two weeks. Edge: Dolphins
When the Raiders run: Expect a heavy dose of Josh Jacobs. Coming off a 2022 season where he led the NFL with 1,653 rushing yards, the Las Vegas tailback tops the league with 186 carries. He just had 27 totes against the Jets last Sunday night. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re all successful rushing attempts. Jacobs is also averaging a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry behind an offensive line that doesn’t get much of a push or create holes in the run game. As a team, the Raiders are 30th in rushing offense.
The Dolphins are 13th in run defense in a figure that’s still inflated by the 233-yard rushing outburst they allowed to the Los Angeles Chargers in the opener. It’s a tremendous outlier as, since, the most yards they’ve surrendered on the ground is 108. David Long Jr. continues to come into his own as an inside linebacker next to Jerome Baker. The Christian Wilkins-Zach Sieler defensive tackle duo is stout, and versatile safeties Jevon Holland and DeShon Elliott are sound in run support, minimizing long runs. Edge: Dolphins
When the Dolphins pass: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is primed for a bounce-back game after throwing for a season-low 193 yards and getting a bye week to mull it over — all while braiding his hair over the idle week. While getting the ball out quicker than most quarterbacks, it essentially comes down to managing opposing pressure. Tagovailoa has been kept clean in all of Miami’s wins, but he has been sacked three or four times in their three losses, including nine quarterback hits at Buffalo.
The Raiders can get after the quarterback behind All-Pro defensive end Maxx Crosby, so that responsibility will land on right tackle Austin Jackson to contain him and his 9 1/2 sacks this season. Aside from Crosby, though, the Dolphins’ offensive line, even while shuffling at guard, should be able to handle Las Vegas’ pass rush.
Star wide receiver Tyreek Hill could also use a rebound on his quest for 2,000 receiving yards after multiple drops and a critical fumble lost that was returned for a touchdown in the loss to Kansas City. Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Miami’s passing offense that still ranks No.1 look to get going against cornerback Marcus Peters and a solid eighth-ranked Raiders pass defense led by former Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who was under Brian Flores in 2019 before going to the Giants ahead of his current tenure in Vegas. Edge: Dolphins
When the Raiders pass: It’s one thing for Aidan O’Connell to hold his own and manage victories against the Giants and Jets. It’ll be another challenge to hit the road and do it against the Dolphins defense in Miami while trying to keep up with an offense that can put up points. O’Connell will be put to the test as Jimmy Garoppolo remains out with his back injury. The rookie fourth-round pick out of Purdue is old for being a first-year player in the NFL, at 25.
The Dolphins will have to key in on star receiver Davante Adams, who has 57 receptions for 659 yards and three touchdowns. Jakobi Meyers has complemented him nicely (463 yards, five touchdowns), and Jacobs is also a receiving threat out of the backfield. Miami, though, has a second game with Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard together on the outside and Kader Kohou as the nickel cornerback in the slot.
Then, there’s the Dolphins pass rush, which ranks ninth in the NFL with 29 sacks. The edge-rushing combination of Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips is churning, and Wilkins is providing interior pressure. It’s not a good sign for the Raiders that the starting left side of their offensive line, tackle Kolton Miller and guard Dylan Parham, are missing practice early in the week. That could be advantageous for Chubb if he’s seeing Jermaine Eluemunor at left tackle. Edge: Dolphins
Special teams: Raiders punter AJ Cole is one of the league’s best at his position as a two-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro. He’s averaging 51.8 yards on his punts with a net average of 47.1. Kicker Daniel Carlson is 17 of 20 on field goals with his misses from long distance.
Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders is 7 of 9 as he doesn’t get many field goal attempts. Punter Jake Bailey doesn’t usually see much of the field, but he did last time out with seven punts. Braxton Berrios is always solid in the return game, but the Raiders have a top punt unit behind Cole. Edge: Raiders
Intangibles: Sure, the Raiders have come out a bit rejuvenated since Pierce took over, but these aren’t the Giants and Jets that his team will face in Miami Gardens. The Dolphins are fresh off their bye week and looking to kick off the final eight-game run with a bang. Miami enters 4-0 at home, winning those games by a combined 100 points. The Dolphins have beaten the teams they should beat, and this should be another example. Edge: Dolphins
PREDICTION: Dolphins 31, Raiders 16