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Miami Dolphins

Three Keys

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Three Keys | John Congemi Previews Dolphins at Raiders

1) Play with Playoff Mentality

It's always important for a team to stick to their weekly routines, and treat each week equally. That is very easy to say, but much more difficult to execute. The reality is the Dolphins have been in playoff mode for the last few weeks, and it's that win-and-advance attitude or mindset that needs to continue this week on the road against the Raiders. Head coach Brian Flores said it best this week when he talked about paying special attention to the little details. He said if you do the little things the big things will show up. That doesn't just pertain to one position or one side of the ball. That includes the entire team, everyday of the week, on or off of the field. Having that mindset is so important throughout the season, but it's magnified in the month of December and January. Finding ways to gain an advantage in penalties, turnovers, and starting field position all directly correlate in building towards wins late in the year.

2) Contain Jacobs and Waller

There's little doubt about the two playmakers the Raiders will rely on to move the football on offense. Running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller both have had sensational seasons. Waller can take over a game, much like Kansas City's Travis Kelce. Last week, Waller didn't miss a beat with back up quarterback Marcus Mariota at the helm. Waller reeled in nine receptions for 150 yards, including a touchdown that kept the Raiders offense in the game versus the Chargers. Miami must find a way to slow down the Pro Bowl tight end, using multiple coverages and possibly double covering the 6'6 difference maker. That task should fall to safety Eric Rowe and rookie safety Brandon Jones, both have played well all season. The Dolphins defense will need to win on third down, where the Raiders are tied for second in the league, converting just under 50 percent of the time. One of the big reasons for their success on third down is the consistent running style of Jacobs. He's very good between the tackles, taking what daylight that's available on first and second down. If the front seven can control the line of scrimmage, it will apply more pressure for Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota to make plays from the pocket.

3) Continue Takeaway Trend

The Dolphins have been stellar at getting their hands on the football and protecting it on offense. Miami sits at plus-10 in the turnover margin, and that trend needs to continue against Las Vegas. The Raiders are on the flip side of this statistic, currently at minus-six, and that's optimistic news for Miami. Ball security on offense and taking the ball away on defense has always been a priority and a focus for this coaching staff. Rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has done an excellent job of taking what's available in the passing game, keeping plays alive with his legs instead of forcing the ball into coverage. That play, along with the aggressive defensive style the Dolphins play with, has allowed this team to win with positive starting field position. Flores said this week that turnovers are the number one reason why teams lose games. Miami's offense has enjoyed and taken advantage of the field position that the defense has provided. Hopefully that trend will continue as games get more difficult to win down the stretch of the season.

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