1) Tackle in Space
If the Dolphins defenders are going to slow down the high-powered offense of the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday, they better execute all the fundamentals of football flawlessly. One of those physical traits include corralling their skilled receiving core, and not allowing big run after catch opportunities. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes can beat you with timing throws as well as improvising behind the line of scrimmage. His ability to extend plays allows players like tight end Travis Kelce and wide out Tyreek Hill the extra time needed to defeat solid coverage and find space for explosive plays. Even when secondaries are in great position to make a tackle on a minimal gain, it seems that Kelce, Hill and others can elude a would-be tackle and move the chains at worst! Kansas City ranks second in the league on third down conversions and the Dolphins defense comes into this game leading the NFL with third down stops. Miami has the talent on defense to slow down this high-powered offense, but only if they can get off of the field in those situations. They cannot allow run after catch plays that extend drives, or worse, turning a minimal reception into an explosive play that drains the defense. The Dolphins defense can win on third down, and I would expect they will try multiple looks and change matchups frequently to achieve success.
2) Score Touchdowns, Not Field Goals
The Chiefs are averaging just over 30 points per game, which ranks second in the NFL. They seem to have an offense that can out dual and overcome any deficit no matter the situation. That's the mindset that permeates throughout their offense and it's starts with Mahomes. Miami's offense hopefully will get to that point with Tua Tagovailoa soon, where he can consistently direct an offense that applies consistent pressure to a defense for sixty minutes. Until that happens, Tua must make the most out of the scoring chances this group creates and find more ways to score touchdowns instead of setting for three points. Against most of the NFL, bringing out place kicker Jason Sanders is a win, because you're guaranteeing points. That builds positive momentum and usually is enough to extend or build upon a two-score lead. It's was the case last week against the Bengals when Sanders extended the lead with two late chip shot field goals in the second half. But the Chiefs are an elite football team that has a championship pedigree, comfortable playing with the lead or executing when things get a tight. That why it's very important this week to cash in for six when those opportunities present themselves. Field goals usually have positive outcomes for Sanders and the Dolphins, but this week, the less we see of Jason, the better chance Miami has for victory.
3) Win Turnover Margin
Miami has a talented team that can dominate their opponents in all three phases of the game. Kansas City can do the same, arguably with more consistency having pushed their record to 11-1 on the season. That's why the Dolphins must find ways to win in all of the categories we fans sometimes take for granted. The hidden yards in the return game or by playing with more discipline when it comes to pre- and post-snap penalties. But one of the stats that is essential to win this week is the turnover margin. Finding ways to get the Chiefs off of their game and shortening the field for Tua and the offense is crucial. Getting to Mahomes in the pocket and separating the football from his grasp. Those emotional plays can really lift the entire team and make it much easier to trade punch for punch with the Chiefs. Those are the types of plays that are needed to win games like this. The plays we've seen this team make for the majority of the year. It gets much more difficult to win games late in the season against quality opponents, and winning the turnover margin is essential on Sunday.