The Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens both got off to strong starts in Week 1. Miami kept the division rival New England Patriots in check, defeating them by a final score of 20-7. Baltimore took care of business on the road last week against the New York Jets, beating them soundly 24-9. The Ravens open up their schedule with four straight games against AFC East opponents, with their tilt against Miami being the second of those contests. There will be a few things for fans to keep an eye on in this one.
Will History Repeat Itself?
These two teams met last season in a Thursday night game that did not go the way many people expected. Baltimore was predicted to upend Miami, but the Dolphins pulled off the upset, winning 22-10 at home. Miami consistently brought pressure against Baltimore, containing quarterback Lamar Jackson in the pocket and forcing him to make quick decisions throwing the football. It proved to be an effective strategy, as the Ravens did not score their first touchdown until late in the fourth quarter.
Although Brian Flores is no longer the head coach in Miami, defensive coordinator Josh Boyer remains a holdover from that staff, and likely recalls that game plan well. It will be noteworthy to observe whether Miami deploys the same scheme on Sunday, or mixes it up.
How Will Baltimore’s Backfield Shake Out?
One of the biggest questions heading into the season for the Ravens was the health and productivity of their backfield. Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards both tore their ACL before the start of the 2021 NFL season, and are still working their way back. Edwards will miss the first four games of the year after the team put him on the PUP(physically unable to perform) list, but Dobbins appears to be close to a return. The former Ohio State Buckeyes bellcow had a solid rookie season in 2020, rushing for 805 yards while scoring nine touchdowns on the ground. His re-introduction into the lineup will be encouraging for Baltimore, and it might happen Sunday.
In the meantime, veterans Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake will handle carries. Against the Jets, Drake ran for 31 yards on 11 totes, while Davis had two carries for 11 yards.
Coaching Matchup: Young Versus Seasoned
With a revamped offense, the NFL world is watching Dolphins first-year head coach Mike McDaniel to see what he can do with his new weapons. He passed his first test last week impressively, defeating Bill Belichick while showing confidence in his young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Before halftime, Miami faced a fourth down and seven yards, and McDaniel kept his offense on the field. Tagovailoa found speedy wide receiver Jaylen Waddle on a slant, who took it in for a momentum changing touchdown.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh has been one of the superior leaders in the NFL for a long time, and is rarely overmatched on the sidelines. It will be interesting to see whether McDaniel can outlast another opposite number who has an impressive NFL resume on Sunday.