Ah, the holidays: that wonderful time of year when we gather with loved ones and family to eat, watch football, give gifts, and trash the living hell out of Bill Parcells. If ever there was day to do it, it's one on which the Miami Dolphins are favored over the Detroit Lions by a field goal, and you'll find nary a Miami fan who feels confident in that.
At least the weather's nice today.
Keep an eye on: Bess and Brandon Marshall, who are three shy of breaking Mark Duper and Mark Clayton's franchise record for most combined receptions by a wide receiver tandem. The Marks Bros wonder twin'd for 144 in 1984 during a 14-2 Super Bowl season with Dan Marino. Yes, Dolphins fans, it's okay to weep over what might have been this season.
Dolphins on offense: should probably come with a warning label from the Surgeon General's office. Miami would like to see their running game establish momentum today, but managed just 65 yards last week against the Bills' 32nd-ranked rush defense -- a marker that seems near-impossible but for having watched it happen.
There's not much help from the passing game, either. The Dolphins are scoring just 17.1 points per game, the second lowest average in the NFL. And with the very dominant Ndamukong Suh intent on harrassing the already-injured and already-erratic Chad Henne through the Dolphins' underperforming line, it's probably going to take a Christmas miracle to see some points on the board.
Dolphins on defense: Miami's D is playing astoundingly well, besting all but two other teams in the league in terms of fewest yards allowed. No matter if the Lions offer up Drew Stanton or Shaun Hill under center, Miami'll have their hands full today containing receiver Calvin Johnson. They'll also likely take the field without injured inside linebacker Karlos Dansby. Still, there's no reason to think -- unless being eliminated from the playoffs takes its toll -- that the Dolphins D won't hold its own as usual.
Special teams: Oh-uh. The Lion's return game is a highlight, and the Dolphins have continually been humiliated on coverage. Punter Nick Harris isn't going to give Davone Bess much to work with, and kicker Dave Rayner is coming off his best performance filling in for Jason Hanson.
"Expert" picks: Golic and Schlereth are going with Detroit, but Allen, Hoge, Jaworski, Mortensen, and Schefter are wearing aqua and orange goggles.
What will happen: If only because it's hard to believe the Dolphins might actually go 1-7 at home, here's thinking the season ends on a (relatively) high note: Miami 20, Detroit 17.