Monday Night Football features an AFC North versus East matchup as the winless Miami Dolphins (0-6) travel to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4). In what may be a game of futility as neither side has been very good early on, both teams have conflicting goals. On the one hand, both teams are looking for positives and for wins to ease the concerns of their fan bases and of their own players; however, the incentive of high draft picks already has to be on both organizations’ minds knowing that this year is likely a wash.
Regardless, the players will play to win, especially as they are featured in prime time on national television. Kickoff is scheduled for this one at 8:15 pm ET.
For the Miami Dolphins, it has certainly been a trying season thus far. At 0-6, they have been embarrassed on numerous occasions and really have struggled for any type of inconsistency on either end. Despite the struggles and the record, they have not played horrifically over the last couple weeks. Two weeks ago they lost by 1 point to the Washington Redskins. While the Redskins are not exactly intimidating themselves, it at least showed Miami was willing to compete. Last week, though, they played relatively well against a tough Buffalo Bills team. Despite a vaunted defense for the Bills, Miami actually held the lead at halftime and ended up losing 31-21 overall.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, there have been a lot of changes in just a couple years. Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season with an injury. Antonio Brown is currently out of the league and Le’Veon Bell is on the Jets. With all the changes to the offense, they still have playmakers. James Conner has shown he is a capable back (although he has played a bit more inconsistently this season) and JuJu Smith-Schuster is certainly a capable wide receiver. They are just hoping Mason Rudolph can lead the offense in the right direction.
The Pittsburgh Steelers come into this as overwhelming 14-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for points scored is set at 43.5.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, both of these teams are in the bottom third of the league in terms of scoring. For the Steelers, they rank 21st overall averaging 20.5 points per game (25.3 points at home). For the Dolphins, they come in ranked dead last averaging just 10.5 points per game (13.5 points on the road).
On the defensive side, Pittsburgh is a little better. They come in 14th overall allowing an average of 21.8 points per game (19 points per game at home). Once again, though, Miami comes in dead last as they are allowing 35.2 points per game (31 on the road).
Miami Still Looking For Win Number One
As previously mentioned, the Miami Dolphins really struggle on both sides of the ball. Still, with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, they will at least try to compete on a weekly basis. Fitzpatrick is currently 62 for 105 for 717 yards. He also has 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and has been sacked 6 times. His leading receiver to this point has been Preston Williams. On the season, Williams has 23 catches for 314 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, Kenyan Drake leads the way. Thus far, he has 47 carries for 174 yards. He also has 22 catches for 174 yards. Unfortunately for Drake, though, he has yet to reach the end zone.
Defensively, the stat leaders for the Dolphins are Jerome Baker (39 tackles), Taco Charlton (3 sacks) and Bobby McCain (1 interception).
Steelers Looking To Take Steps In Right Direction
After coming out with a 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in week 6, the Steelers were able to come into their bye this last week with a positive on their end. Now, trying to build on it, they are going to try to make it two in a row over the winless Dolphins. Under center for the Steelers is Mason Rudolph. This season, since taking over for Roethlisberger, he is 63 for 94 for 646 yards, 7 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and has been sacked 3 times. It will be interesting to see how Rudolph plays throughout the season given he suffered from a significant concussion just a few weeks ago.
James Conner is the leader for the Steelers both on the ground and through the air. On the ground, Conner has rushed 74 times for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns. Through the air, he has 26 receptions for 231 yards and 2 more touchdowns. While he has been productive, he has taken a step back from last year, although the absence of Ben Roethlisberger could be at least partially to blame for that.
Defensively, the leaders for the team are Devin Bush (52 tackles, 2 interceptions) and T.J. Watt (4 sacks).
Steelers Win, Dolphins Cover
It is always difficult betting on a winless team, but it makes it a little easier when they are going against a 2-4 team. I really don’t think that there is anyway that the Steelers lose this game; however, I think Ryan Fitzpatrick can do enough to keep this game relatively close. Especially with the inconsistencies of the Steelers’ offense, it is hard to pick them to win by over two touchdowns. For my money, I am taking the Dolphins and the 14 points.