BY SEAN DONOVAN
The Miami Dolphins have lost six consecutive home-openers, giving up an average of 28.2 points per game in the process. They hope to snap that cold streak when they host quarterback Carson Palmer and the Oakland Raiders Sunday.
It will be a rematch of Week 13 of last season, which was also in Miami. The Dolphins had their most dominant performance of 2011 in that game, jumping out to a 34-0 third quarter lead. But much has changed in Miami, as well as in Oakland. This will be a battle between two teams still trying to establish their identities and see what 2012 will have in store. (Photo: photo-gator, Flickr)
Turnovers. Just like last week, Miami will need to focus on protecting the ball on offense and generating a big play or two on defense. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins will need a marked improvement in this area, as they kicked off the season with four giveaways and no takeaways in Houston. The Dolphins' defense should have some opportunities going up against the notoriously turnover-prone Palmer.
Containing the star running backs. Without question, the centerpiece for each of these offenses is their tailbacks. For Oakland, their offense will go only as far as Darren McFadden will take them. Likewise for Miami and Reggie Bush. It will need to be the prime objective of each defense to contain these dynamic talents, as the team that gets better production from its tailback will likely win.
Receivers vs. Cornerbacks. The Dolphins' secondary held up reasonably well against a powerful Houston passing attack, though they weren't heavily tested due to the Texans jumping out to a big lead. Denarius Moore, Oakland's most dynamic pass catcher, returns from injury and will help Oakland stretch the field, something it was unable to do in Week 1. Palmer was just 1-of-5 for 21 yards on throws that traveled 20 or more yards in the air in the opener against San Diego, per Pro Football Focus.
Conditioning. In the early afternoon on a September day in South Florida, heat and humidity will be a factor. If the game is close, conditioning and hydration will be instrumental in either team taking the victory. For two teams that lack depth at multiple positions, players missing time due to cramps or exhaustion could be costly. For what it's worth, Miami will be wearing all white uniforms and Oakland will be wearing its black tops.
Week 2 AFC East Daily Dolphins posts:
Week 2 AFC East Picks: Raiders at Dolphins
Raiders' QB Palmer on Miami heat: 'It will be a factor'
Film Review: Tannehill's momentum-shifting 1st INT
Philbin says Dolphins still gained confidence in loss
Tannehill's low release point equals batted passes, INTs
Fins' turnovers, short fields translate to Texan points