Game Preview: Green Bay Packers At Miami Dolphins

The stage is set, and the sense of anticipation taking over Dolphin fans has ceased to be abstract and is slowly becoming dense and heavy, almost tangible. The tension building up in the days leading to the game is so thick it can be cut with a knife. Thankfully, the talk across South Florida sports radio airwaves, isn't about some drama gossip coming out of the sports world, but about actual football. This is the game that is supposed to answer some nagging questions for the fans of the aqua and orange. Has Miami finally turned it around coming off the bye week after the resounding beating of the Raiders in London? Has quarterback Ryan Tannehill finally found his rhythm and is now on his way to become the franchise player he was drafted to be? Was it, in the Raiders case, just an example instead, of just an average team beating down on one of the NFL's worst teams?

More than 1,500 miles North by Northwest of Miami in Wisconsin, there is hope that the team with the elite quarterback, has also turned it around. The Packers started out this season by allowing 398 yards against Seattle and less than stellar performances by running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy finally broke the 100 yard barrier against the Vikings last week, and that along with a masterful performance by Aaron Rodgers has the Packer fans dreaming of yet another playoff appearance. But there is still a certain degree of reservation remaining in Green Bay, and just like in Miami's case, the beat down came at the expense of a struggling Vikings team. Fans are wondering if Lacy can run as effectively against a somewhat better defense in Miami as he did against Minnesota?

Miami will have, for the first time in a while, their entire defense on the field. Injuries have plagued the Dolphins week after week so far this year. Miami's offense remains hobbled but expects to get pro bowl center Mike Pouncey back this week after he underwent hip surgery just before the start of the season. Wide receiver Brandon Gibson remains a question as does running back Knowshon Moreno, who has been out since week 2 with a dislocated elbow. Moreno was able to work out on Wednesday, but was limited in practice and the Dolphins have not made any official announcement as to his status.

Running backs Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno, should the latter be ready to play, can be the difference makers for Miami, since they would exploit weaknesses in the Packers defensive line with a relentless ground and pound game. If they are effective in combination with in Miami's weather, can do a good job of sapping all energy out of the fittest non-Floridian athlete and drive them to dehydration. Green Bay's defense meanwhile, in spite of the fact of having two tacklers in the top 10 leading tacklers in the NFL, remains a question mark and outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have also been under whelming so far this season. The Packer's secondary is loaded with potential play makers, led by veteran corner Sam Shields and 1st round draft pick safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who are well capable of turning it around if Tannehill is off target. The key to the game for the Packers will be to try to turn this contest into a shoot out and light up the scoreboard, while for Miami, it lies on grinding it on the ground and turn it into a time of possession type of game with Tannehill being on target and executing the read option and play action pass well.

Now all that remains is for these gladiators of the gridiron to step onto the stage and prove to their fans whether or not they are for real. This writer thinks Miami will prevail behind the running game and good mid-range passing by Ryan Tannehill. Final score prediction: Green Bay 24, Miami 30. 

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