Broncos - Dolphins Week 7 Preview

The Broncos should see a steady diet of Matt Moore handing off to Daniel Thomas on Sunday. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Following their bye week, the Denver Broncos (1-4) will travel to face the Miami Dolphins (0-5) at Sun Life Stadium for a Week 7 matchup. The Broncos have named Tim Tebow as their starting quarterback and will see if he is the answer to lead the team out of the doldrums. The winless Dolphins are coming off a 24-6 shellacking at the hands of the New York Jets on Monday night. Their head coach Tony Sparano has a vote of "No Confidence" from the fans and Miami principal owner Stephen M. Ross has been reduced to publicity stunts in an attempt to lure fans. In fact, the latest stunt is to honor the Florida Gators’ 2008 national championship team. It is no coincidence that Tim Tebow, who led the Gators to that championship, will be starting. The stars could not have aligned more perfectly. Ross' scheme worked, even though it was planned long ago. Sun Life Stadium will fill up alright, but there are likely to be as many Blue Tebow jerseys than teal Brandon Marshall ones.

Weather and Conditions

The weather forecast for Sunday's game at Sun Life Stadium is expected to be:
Hi_shwrs
Slight Chance Rain Showers
Temperature: 72/82f

You can get up to the minute weather updates here.
 
Sun Life Stadium is an open air venue that seats 76,500 fans. The playing surface is Prescription Athletic Turf (natural grass).

The game will be nationally broadcast by CBS at 11:00 am MDT. CBS announcers Kevin Harlan will call the play-by-play and Solomon Wilcots will provide color commentary for the game.Click here for the regional broadcast map.

 Injuries and external factors


The Dolphins signed Safety Gerald Alexander to replace Wide Receiver Roberto Wallace, who was placed on Injured Reserve on Wednesday. Alexander originally signed with the Dolphins during Training Camp, but was cut by the team on September 3, 2011.


The Broncos are the healthiest they have been all season and that is important coming off their Bye week. Especially if they are to change their fortunes and start winning.

OFFENSE

The chart below lists the Miami Offensive numbers against the Broncos Defensive numbers.

Dolphins Broncos
Offense Rank Category Rank Defense
   15   30th    Points For  31st     28
 343.8   16th    Total Yds  24th  358.8
   228   19th     Pass Yds  22nd  262.4
 115.8   14th    Rush Yds  23rd  123.4
   18 4th Most      Sacks  18th    12
    ----    ----- Forced Fumbles T-16th     4
     7  T-7th   Interceptions T-25th     3
 24.20%  32nd    3rd Downs 28th  44.90%
 -2.4%    23   Overall DVOA   20    9.2% 
   -7 T-29th Turnover Margin T-25th    -5
   38 29th      QB Hits   ----     ---- 

 

DVOA from Football Outsiders explained here.


Since losing starting quarterback Chad Henne 2 weeks ago with an injured left shoulder, Matt Moore has yet to throw a touchdown pass. He has completed 55% of his passes, with 3 interceptions and a 52.8 QB rating. He has also been Sacked 7 times in the last 6 quarters. Rookie RB Daniel Thomas has 249 yards rushing and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. The Dolphins only have 2 rushing touchdowns, one each from Chad Henne and Lex Hilliard. Former Bronco Brandon Marshall has 28 catches for 422 yards, a 15.1 avg. and 1 touchdown. #2 Wideout Davone Bess has 17 catches for 228 yards. Miami's TE is Anthony Fasano, who has 8 catches for 130 yards and a 16.3 average. 3rd down threat Reggie Bush has 190 yards rushing and 15 catches for 93 yards and 1 TD.

The bottom line is, they run better than they pass, their pass protection is suspect and they have the worst 3rd down percentage in the league. In a game between two last place teams though, what do you expect?

DEFENSE

The chart below lists the Miami Defensive numbers against the Broncos Offensive numbers.

Dolphins Broncos
Defense Rank Category Rank Offense
  25.6   27th Points Against  T-19th    21
  390.8   26th    Total Yds  T-26th 303.6
   284   29th    Pass Yds   27th 201.8
  106.8   12th    Rush Yds   22nd 101.8
     8 T-28th     Sacks 29th Most     9
     3 T-23rd Forced Fumbles    -------     ----
     2 T-30th   Interceptions   T-7th     7
 426% T-22nd    3rd Downs   10th 41.70%
 22.3%   31  Overall DVOA     24 -3.2%
25/224 T-28th     Penalties   T-28th 25/238
   ------    -----     QB Hits    1st   17

 

Miami runs a base 3-4 Defensive look. The Line is anchored by NT Paul Soliai (8 TKL), but DE's Randy Starks (13 TKL) and 2nd year Jared Odrick (7 TKL, 1 INT, 1 FF) wreak havoc themselves. At Linebacker, Karlos Dansby (22 TKL, 1 SK, 1 FF) and Kevin Burnett (17 TKL) cover the inside, with Marvin Mitchell (10 TKL, 1 SK) in the rotation. On the Outside, Koa Misi (10 TKL, 1 SK) and Cameron Wake (11 TKL, 3 SK) patrol. Wake is nicked up, so Jason Trusnik (3 TKL) or Jason Taylor (4 TKL, 1 SK) will fill in. The Cornerbacks for the Dolphins are Sean Smith (20 TKL, 3 PD) and Vontae Davis (16 TKL). Nolan Carroll (16 TKL) is their 3rd CB, but he is nursing a sore Hamstring. That leaves Rookie Jimmy Wilson (7 TKL, 2 PD,1 INT, 1 FF), who the Fin's are high on and veteran Will Allen (7 TKL) to fill in. At Strong Safety, Yeremiah Bell (45 TKL. 1 PD) leads the Defense and Tyrone Culver (2 TKL) is his backup. The Dolphins are beat up at Free Safety. Starter Reshad Jones (32 TKL, 2 PD, 1 SK) is nursing a Knee injury and Chris Clemons (2 TKL) has a sore Hamstring. Culver may end up getting snaps, or freshly signed Gerald Alexander will play.

I expect Miami's Defensive Coordinator (and former Broncos coach) Mike Nolan to employ the blitz heavy and often. Tebow's completion rate is 54.4% against a 4-man pass rush. He is a horrid 39.1% when 5 or more rush the passer. Of course the Dolphins use a 3-4 front look, but the OLB's will be rushing Tebow too. Look for  ILB's Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett to "Spy" on Tebow.

SPECIAL TEAMS


Dan Carpenter does the Kicking chores for the Dolphins. He 11/14 (78.6%) on Field Goal Attempts with a long of 51 yards. He is 6/6 on Extra Points. His Kickoffs average landing area is the 4 yard line. He has 10 touchbacks and the other 11 have been returned an average of 24.2 yards.

Brandon Fields is the Punter and Holder. He has a 49.0 average and a Net of 42.1 yards on 22 punts. He has placed 10 Inside the 20 yard line and a long of 70 yards. 4 of his punts have been downed and 2 have been Fair Caught. 16 have been returned for a 9.6 average.

John Denney is a career Special Teamer and has served as the Dolphins Long Snapper for the last 5 seasons. The native from Thornton, CO made the Pro Bowl last year and averages 5 ST's Tackles each year.

Clyde Gates is the Kick Returner. He has returned 19 Kickoffs an average of 22.1 yards. Gates also has 3 Punt Returns at an average of 10.7 yards. Davone Bess has 8 Punt Returns for a 10.5 average, with 4 Fair Catches and Reggie Bush has returned 2 for a 9.0 yard average.

SERIES HISTORY

The Broncos and Dolphins have met 15 times. The Broncos record in the series is 3-11-1 (Home: 3-4-1 / Away: 0-7) As you can see. Denver has not won in Miami during the regular season, though they have won a game in Sun Life Stadium. On January 31, 1999, Denver beat the Atlanta Falcons for their 2nd consecutive Lombardi Trophy. It was called Pro Player Stadium back them, but it's still the same venue.

Miami holds a 2 game winning streak with a 26-17 win at Mile High (11/2/08) and a 34-10 romp at Dolphins Stadium (9/11/05).  You have to go all the way back to 2004 (Week 14) to find the last time Denver beat Miami 20-17 at Mile High.                    

The line in Vegas has the Dolphins favored by 1 point.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Denver is still looking for its 400th regular-season victory, entering Sunday’s contest with a 399-368-10 (.520) all-time record. The Broncos have the league’s 3rd-best record (16-6 / .727) in games after a bye since the bye week was introduced in 1990. The Broncos have never won in Miami (0-7) and are 1-8 in the last nine meetings overall, but the Dolphins have only one touchdown in their past 11 quarters. They also are having trouble converting 3rd downs, Red Zone issues and poor tackling. Sounds familiar doesn't it? Las Vegas says 1 point, but I say the Tebow determination factor is worth more than that. Denver by 7. You heard it here first.

Go Broncos!                    




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