On November 25, 2018 the Indianapolis Colts will host the Miami Dolphins In this week twelve match-up I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea of how they may look to attack our surging Colts.
The last five matchups between these two teams have resulted in a 4-1 record for the Colts. The last coming in 2015 when Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst led us to an 18-12 victory. This Thanksgiving we should all feel very thankful that we will never see Hasselbeck and Whitehurst in a Colts uniform again, but hopefully the result this Sunday is the same as it was in 2015.
Let’s figure out what we can expect in week twelve.
Jason Sanders was taken with the 229th overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Sanders played his college ball at New Mexico and despite the fact that most places named “New” anything tend to be no better than the original, Sanders has had a good start to his NFL career. Sanders is 20 of 21 on extra point tries and 15 of 16 on field goal attempts.
The only thing we have yet to see from Sanders is how deep he can go. His career long is 50 yards and his lone miss was from 50+. It’s crazy that Adam Vinatieri was playing in the league on the day Sanders was born (fun fact, Sanders and I share a birthday several years apart). Despite that fact I would absolutely take Vini over Sanders if I needed a game winner from 55 yards.
Matt Haack punts a lot. His 51 punts are the fourth most of any punter in the league. Haack, to go along with his tremendous volume, is sporting a 16th ranked yards per punt at 45.2. Our own Rigoberto Sanchez has the sixth fewest attempts (33) with the twelfth best average of 46.1 yards per attempt.
Haack is no Sanchez but it’s hard to say how two extra punts per game would impact Sanchez's average. Haack isn’t a bad punter but I don't expect him to consistently flip the field or pin Indy deep.
These Dolphins are something else. Jakeem Grant started the season as a phenomenal returner of both punts and kicks. However in week 10 he injured his Achilles and has been placed on injured reserve, along with the other half of their receiving corps.
The only other players to log a return this season are Danny Amendola and Senorise Perry so one would assume that these are the players who are tasked with replacing Grant’s production. Though, Amendola is nursing a hamstring injury while also being 33 years old and is officially questionable for Sunday. If I’m Adam Gase I’m not letting Amendola anywhere near special teams, especially with how banged up these Dolphins are.
I look for Perry to get the bulk of the return attempts this week and while anything could happen, I don't expect the Dolphins returners to heavily impact the game.
Final Thoughts for The Week:
The Colts, if they play at the level we now know they’re capable of playing at, will walk away with another big win. If for some reason the defense has an emotional letdown of sorts, the Dolphins just don’t have the firepower to keep up with the Colts offense.
The Dolphins defense just isn’t good enough to stop the Colts offensive unit, with that said they’re in good company, the offense is firing on all cylinders.
I am wary of my prediction, however. The last time I was this sure on the outcome of a game was against the Oakland Raiders and even though the good guys came out on top, it didn’t look good for most of that game.
As of right now the Indianapolis Colts are tied with 7 other teams with a 5-5 record. Tankathon currently lists the Colts as having the 15th overall selection of the 2019 NFL draft, but all of that could change drastically this weekend. If the following teams win their games the Colts draft position could drop all the way in to a six-way tie for the 18-24th overall pick in the first round.
Teams That Need To Win:
Now I realize some people might look at this and think that having a lower draft position is a bad thing. It isn’t. Even if the team isn’t ready to contend for a Super Bowl title this year, winning games in the back half of the season is a great sign for the season to come. Further we get to see what Chris Ballard does when his team finds a little bit of success. Does he continue to build with great drafting or will he struggle to find talent later in the first round of the draft? Time will tell but even if this team isn’t on the same level as the Rams or Chiefs as of right now, that doesn’t mean a worse draft position (aka wins), should be viewed poorly.
I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving, no matter what you're doing or where you are or who you're with today, no matter what else you do or don't have to be thankful for in your life, just remember that Thanksgiving is one of the best days of the year for professional football and we can all be thankful for that.