On paper, across the board, we do have a better team than Pittsburgh.
Too bad we are not playing them on paper.
Nope! Gonna be on a cold damp Heinz Field instead.
With that in mind, here is how I see this playing out:
Look for both teams to try to run North-South in between the tackles. Trying to get outside and then cut it up will be very difficult. Miami doesn't have to rush for 130 yards to win this game. 85 yards on 22 carries will suffice. Being balanced and staying in front of the chains will be enough.
Short passing game will prevail. With windy cold conditions and some snow look for Tannehill to stay hot with the quick slants and crossing routes.
The sloppy footing will make it difficult on both defenses to pressure the QBs. Pitt will look to zone blitz with defensive linemen falling back into the passing lanes. If Tannehill stays out of trouble without any picks he can pass for 250 yards and 2 TDs which will be enough to win this game.
Defensively, stopping Pitt running game from getting to the second level is the key. If we tackle well, Big Ben will need 7-8 yards for first downs. Our secondary is playing well and has been very opportunistic. Pitt has cut back on their turnover issues. If we contain Big Ben, keep him in the pocket and drop 7 into coverage, we can slow them down.
This game will be determined by field position. Both teams know this is virtually a playoff game and will look to throw it away and punt rather than attempt to force an issue.
Whoever wins this battle and tackles best wins the game.
I like Pittsburgh's kick return units much better than our kick coverage units and they can swing momentum and field position.
My heart says Miami big but my gut says the better team finds a way to pull this out by a hair by playing better in the red zone on both sides of the ball, which is all that is needed: Miami 20-Pitt 19
Dolfan since 12/25/1971