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Sunday Night Football: Steelers at Dolphins Preview

Tua Tagovailoa

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW

  • Matchup: Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) at Miami Dolphins (3-3)
  • Line: Dolphins (-7) | O/U 44.5

The Pittsburgh Steelers visit Hard Rock Stadium for an intriguing intraconference matchup against the Miami Dolphins. The Steelers knocked off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week to snap a four-game losing skid. The Dolphins suffered their third consecutive setback in Week 6 with a narrow loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Team Breakdowns

Miami’s high-octane offense will be at full strength for the first time since Week 4 with the return of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Pittsburgh has struggled against the pass this season and has allowed the third-most passing yards per game. The Steelers overcame an early two-touchdown deficit to capture a 27-14 win over the Dolphins the last time these two squads clashed in 2019. Mason Rudolph tossed a pair of touchdown passes, and Pittsburgh used four sacks and two interceptions to shut out Miami over the final three quarters.

The Steelers:

Pittsburgh notched a much-needed victory against the Buccaneers a week ago but has serious issues at the quarterback position. Rookie Kenny Pickett went into concussion protocol in the third quarter, and backup Mitch Trubisky came off the bench to lead the banged-up Steelers to the improbable win. The two signal-callers have combined to throw four touchdowns and six interceptions for the league’s 30th-ranked offense.

The Steelers’ ground attack is ranked 28th with 86.7 yards an outing. Second-year running back Najee Harris is averaging a woeful 3.2 yards per carry and has eclipsed 60 rushing yards just once in six games. The former first-round pick has struck paydirt three times, including a pair of touchdown receptions. Rookie Jaylen Warren has tallied 96 yards on 21 rushes in limited action.

Diontae Johnson headlines a receiving corps that boasts four pass-catchers with 20-plus receptions and over 200 receiving yards. Johnson leads Pittsburgh’s 24th-ranked passing offense with 33 catches and 295 yards, while Chase Claypool (23/225/1), George Pickens (20/277), and Pat Freiermuth (20/235/1) are also enjoying productive campaigns.

Pittsburgh knocked off Tampa Bay despite missing four of its top five players, including safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, from its secondary. Fitzpatrick has a team-high three picks for a Steelers pass defense ranked third in the NFL with eight interceptions. However, only two teams have surrendered more passing yards than Pittsburgh heading into Week 7.

Linebacker Myles Jack is the leading tackler for a defensive unit allowing the 18th-most rushing yards. Jack has racked up 58 combined tackles in six games, including 34 solo tackles. Devin Bush has posted 35 tackles while Fitzpatrick has added 33.

Third-year linebacker Alex Highsmith has a league-high 6.5 sacks for a defensive unit that is ranked 19th with 12 sacks. Highsmith logged a trio of sacks in the season-opening game, and has tallied a pair of quarterback takedowns over his last three games. The Steelers have struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks since T.J. Watt went on injured reserve with a left pectoral injury in Week 1.

The Dolphins:

Miami dropped its third straight game against the Vikings last week with backup quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson under center. Bridgewater threw a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Mike Gesicki, but the Dolphins’ late rally fell short. However, Tagovailoa returns this week to direct the league’s second-ranked passing offense.

Tagovailoa led the Dolphins to three consecutive wins before suffering an ugly concussion in Week 4. The third-year quarterback tallied 1,035 yards, eight touchdowns, and three interceptions in a little more than three games.

The Dolphins feature two of the NFL’s top receiving threats. Speedsters Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle torched the Vikings for 18 catches and 306 yards. Hill has a league-high 701 receiving yards and two scores on 50 catches, while Waddle has caught 30 passes for 533 yards and three touchdowns.

Raheem Mostert is the leading rusher for a rushing attack ranked 30th. Mostert has rushed for 309 yards and a touchdown on 71 carries, while Chase Edmonds is averaging 2.9 yards on 31 carries. Miami posted 73 yards on the ground last week and averaged just 3.7 yards per rush.

Defensively, the Dolphins have faced a bevy of elite quarterbacks, including Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow. Only five teams have allowed more than the 25.8 points per game Miami has surrendered this season, and the secondary has intercepted just one pass in 24 quarters.

Safety Brandon Jones has tallied a team-high 42 combined tackles for the league’s 11th-ranked run defense. Linebacker Elandon Roberts has collected 34 total tackles, and Miami limited Minnesota to just 78 rushing yards in Week 6.

Steelers vs. Dolphins Prediction

The Dolphins’ offense averaged an underwhelming 16 points over the last three games but should enjoy a boost with Tagovailoa back at the helm this week. Miami’s lack of a running game remains a concern, and with Mostert nursing several minor injuries, Edmonds might see an increased workload against the Steelers.

Pittsburgh has a lackluster rushing attack and an average passing offense at best. The projected game script has the Steelers in catch-up mode and either Pickett or Trubisky throwing upwards of 45 passes.

With a healthy Tagovailoa, the Dolphins’ offense will revert back into an offensive juggernaut that is too much for the Steelers to overcome. Miami’s defense is vulnerable to big plays, and Pittsburgh will need a handful to keep this game close.

Prediction: Miami 34, Pittsburgh 20

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