Dolphins-Colts Preview

What to watch for when the Miami Dolphins face the Indianapolis Colts

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Optimism lives in Dolphin-land

    Don't get carried away, but the 4-3 Miami Dolphins have a chance to reach the halfway point with a winning record for the first time since 2003. All they have to do is beat the Indianapolis Colts, also 4-3 and one year removed from a 1-15 debacle.

    "They've prepared hard, and I think they're a hungry group. They're a bunch of guys that want to win. I don't know that I've really been surprised," head coach Joe Philbin said of his team this week. "I told the players, 'There's nothing better in the National Football League than coming to work in November and December and, like you just mentioned, having meaningful games.' It's a lot of fun. It gets your juices going as it should."

    When Miami has the ball: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill is listed as questionable on the team's injury report this week. Though he was able to practice in a limited capacity during the lead-up to the game, whether he makes the start on Sunday will likely be a game-time decision. If he can't play, backup Matt Moore will start.

    Meanwhile, the Colts will get pass rusher Robert Mathis back. He missed the previous three games with a knee injury. CB Vontae Davis, whom the Dolphins dealt to Indy during the preseason, is out with a left knee injury.

    Getting Mathis back opposite star DE Dwight Freeney makes the Colts' pass rush all the more potent. "They have to have at least two or three sets of eyes on him (Freeney) at all times, and I'd like to feel like I will draw a little bit more attention," Mathis said Thursday. "You can't just single block him, and it helps me just as well as I feel like I help him."

    The Colts have combined for 15 sacks on the year (5 by Mathis), and are giving up the 7th-fewest passing yards in the NFL. Opponents are rushing for 137 yards a game against Indy, though, so expect to see a big dose of RBs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, whether Tannehill plays or not.

    When Indianapolis has the ball: QB Andrew Luck, the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, has mostly lived up to expectations, throwing for 1,971 yards and 8 touchdowns through seven games. His accuracy has not been stellar, though, as evidenced by his 56% completion rate and 8 interceptions.

    Former Miami Hurricane Reggie Wayne is Luck's favorite target, just as he was for Peyton Manning. He could test Miami's bend-but-don't-break pass defense. Indianapolis has more trouble running than passing, gaining just 3.9 yards per carry.

    Though Indy is 9th in the NFL in terms of total offense, it is 24th in scoring thanks to its 13 turnovers and tendency to settle for field goals. Miami can ease the burden on its offense with more of the defense and special teams play that helped them against the Jets last week.

    Who has the edge? Even without Tannehill, the Dolphins have an advantage on offense thanks to its running attack. It will take a strong performance from Luck to counteract that.

    The pick: Dolphins 24-Colts 19

    Details: Miami Dolphins (4-3) at Indianapolis Colts (4-3)
    TV: CBS, 1:00, Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots
    Line: Miami by 2
    Previously: Colts won 27-23 at Miami in 2009