1) Contain Kyler Murray
The Miami Dolphins defense without question had their best performance of the season last week against the Rams. They were able to create points, multiple turnovers, sacks and hits on Rams quarterback Jared Goff. The big question coming into this week is can they replicate, or even come close to that level of efficiency facing arguably the best dual-threat quarterback in the league in Arizona's Kyler Murray. Murray's ability to extend plays that sometimes look impossible, he makes them seem routine because of his quickness and foot speed. He's usually the fastest player on the field and containing his ability to create plays on the perimeter will be a challenge on Sunday. Miami must find a way to create pressure while not creating escape lanes for Murray to scamper through. His ability to run anywhere at anytime presents challenges, rushing for 437 yards and seven touchdowns. The Cardinals are also very efficient on third down, converting 44 percent and have a desire to gamble on fourth down with success going six of seven in that category. Murray's ability to allude pressure helps his offensive line, and as a result, have only allowed nine sacks. They will also use tempo to attack the defense, keeping the pressure on to line up correctly and making communication as difficult as possible. For all of the great qualities that Murray brings to the Arizona offense, he will sometimes be careless with the football. He's thrown seven interceptions and hopefully the Miami secondary will continue to get their hands on the football this week as well.
2) Stars Need to Shine
This contest is filled with some of the best of the best on offense and defense for both teams. Matchups like Arizona's talented wide out DeAndre Hopkins going against Xavien Howard or Byron Jones or DeVante Parker and Preston Williams trying to gain the upper hand against Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. This is a week that Miami's best need to win their one on one matchups to come out with a huge road win. Having the ability to raise your level of performance against talent that is equal to or slightly above is what sports is all about. This week's challenge for the Dolphins' elite is to execute their job to make minimal or zero mistakes. When tight end Mike Gesicki gets his 50/50 chance verses linebacker Hasson Reddick or Isaiah Simmons, he needs to help out his rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and come down with the catch. Same applies to covering Cardinals future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald on third down conversions. Whoever draws that assignment must be prepared to fight through or around his body to contest the catch. The line of scrimmage always plays a major factor in the outcome of a game, and it certainly will on Sunday. But it should be a lot of fun to watch these skill players battle in space and see you can win the majority of these one-on-one's!
3) Create Early Offensive Momentum
It's fun to play the position of quarterback when things are going smooth. No matter what the call is, your guys are executing with consistency and you have the ability to keep the defense guessing. If quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can come close to having a start that resembles what I described, it should be a great day for him and the offense. Last week was such a weird game, with Miami's defense dominating early and playing a major role in rushing to a 28-10 halftime lead. It almost seemed like the offense was invisible. Those types of games probably happen, if you're lucky, once a season. This week the offense needs to find a way to start fast and stay on the field. Stacking positive plays together and totally eliminating negative plays that get you into second or third and long situations. It might also be difficult to depend on the running game with losing Myles Gaskin and (potentially) Matt Breida to injury. That should lead to some rotation with Jordan Howard, Patrick Laird and even Salvon Ahmed. Whoever gets the carries needs to press the line of scrimmage and move the pile forward. I'm also looking for Tagovailoa to be more comfortable after playing in a game last week for the first time in over a year. Not many players at any position, let alone quarterback, can come out and just light it up in their first start as a rookie. Hopefully Tua will be able this week to continue to get the ball out on time and on target early, because he's the catalyst to starting fast and moving the football. Getting everyone involved right from the start and having normal down and distances should keep the Cardinals in more base looks defensively as well.