The Ravens and Dolphins will battle for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs when they meet at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 17.
Here’s a breakdown from Alain Poupart, the publisher of AllDolphins.com for the Sports Illustrated Fan Nation network.
1. The Dolphins have the most dominant offense in the NFL. How will they attack the Ravens?
Poupart: While the stats suggest the Dolphins have had success passing (1st in the NFL) and rushing (5th) this season, it always starts with the passing game as much as they’d like to have balance offensively. The Dolphins almost invariably turn to the pass in key situations. There will be a good amount of short and quick throws, but the Dolphins will take a shot down the field, like they did when these teams met last season.
2. There is a lot of talk about Miami’s stunning comeback last year in Baltimore. How much stock are the Dolphins players putting on that performance?
Poupart: Very little. New year, new players. Head coach Mike McDaniel has been steadfast in preaching to his players to stay in the moment, so they’re not about to allow themselves to think about that game. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa kind of said the same thing during his weekly media session Wednesday. It’s all about the game Sunday, not what happened in Week 2 last year.
3. What is wide receiver Jaylen Waddle’s status for the game?
Poupart: McDaniel described the injury as a high ankle sprain, but one that wasn’t “too severe” and he wouldn’t rule him out for the game Sunday. That said, it is a high ankle sprain and it’s not often you see a skill position player being able to play a week after it happens, and it didn’t make the outlook any better that Waddle didn’t practice Wednesday.
4. How do you think will Tagovailoa handle the Ravens’ pass rush?
Poupart: Very carefully. The Dolphins have countered opposing pass rushes this season a lot through their quick passing, which is the result of a combination of a lot of screens but also Tua making quick decisions and his receivers (mostly Hill) getting open very quickly. When he’s been faced with heavy pressure, Tua often this season has quickly gotten down to avoid taking the kind of big hit that led to his concussion issues of 2022.
5. The Ravens were irked about being 5-point underdogs to the 49ers. Are the Dolphins angry about being 4-point underdogs in this game?
Poupart: We’ll find out for sure on next week’s episode of “Hard Knocks,” right? But based on what he’s done this year, I’m sure McDaniel will point out to his players the underdog role, just like he pointed out to them before playing Dallas the “narrative” that the Dolphins had yet to beat a good team (which was more fact than narrative because they had yet to beat a team with a winning record). So, yeah, regardless of what players tell the media, internally I’m sure there will be chatter about being disrespected.
— Poupart has covered the Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989 for various publications and media outlets, including Dolphin Digest, The Associated Press, and the Dolphins team website. He has covered three Super Bowls for NFL.com, Football News, and the Montreal Gazette, the annual NFL draft, the Senior Bowl, and the NFL Scouting Combine.