Miami Dolphins Week 18
To put a bow on the 2022-23 NFL regular season, the Miami Dolphins (8-8) host the New York Jets (7-9) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The Miami Dolphins Week 18 game is a must-win!
With a win and a Patriots loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins will be heading to the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season. The last time the Dolphins made the playoffs, they got crushed 30-12 by Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium.
Are the Miami Dolphins Playoff Bound with a Week 18 Win?
It’s been over 23 years since the Dolphins won a playoff game. In a win over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, Lamar Smith set an NFL playoff record by carrying the ball 40 times in a Dolphins 23-17 overtime win. Smith would generate 209 yards on the ground along with two touchdowns, including the game-winning score in overtime. Miami would go on to lose 27-0 the next week in the AFC Divisional round to the Raiders in Oakland. A game that Dolphins fans and quarterback Jay Fiedler don’t like to be reminded of.
Sunday presents an opportunity to turn a page and offer hope for the future. When the Dolphins poached first-year head coach Mike McDaniel from Kyle Shanahan’s staff in San Francisco, feelings were mixed about the hire. Described by peers as quirky and an out-of-the-box character, the 37-year-old McDaniel was relatively unknown to the public personality-wise. What was known of McDaniel was his football mind and vision for how to run offenses.
Coming to San Francisco from Atlanta when Kyle Shanahan became head coach of the 49ers, McDaniel worked as the run game coordinator from 2017-2020. His finest moment came in the 2019 NFC Championship game when the Niners ran for 285 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-20 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Before the 2021-22 season, McDaniel was promoted to offensive coordinator. He would help lead the 49ers to a 10-7 record that saw them come close to reaching the Super Bowl before ultimately losing to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game.
Mike McDaniel has been a part of a lot of important games. He’s paid his dues, quietly worked behind the scenes, and learned from his mentors along the way. Not everything has gone smoothly in his first year as head coach, no one has it easy in this league. What McDaniel has heading into week 18 is an opportunity. An opportunity to show the fans and organization where they could be heading. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is not playing and that changes things big time, but it is still up to McDaniel to put together a game plan and motivate his team to beat the AFC East rival Jets and keep the playoff hopes alive.
QB for Week 18 Miami Dolphins
Coach McDaniel’s Miami tenure started magnificently. A 3-0 record with wins over the Patriots, Ravens, and Bills had fans salivating about what this offense could look like for a full season. After being knocked out of the week three win against the Bills, Tua was cleared to play in Thursday night primetime in Cincinnati versus the Bengals. He made it till just under six minutes in the second quarter before a scary concussion injury took him out for the remainder of the game. Teddy Bridgewater would step in for the Dolphins in the 27-15 loss.
Tagovailoa’s injuries and health have been the story of the Miami Dolphins 2022-23 season. When Tua plays, the Dolphins look like a playoff-bound team. The Dolphins have an 8-4 record when Tua finishes a game this season. They fall to 0-4 in games he’s either sat out or couldn’t complete. With the combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson, the Dolphins average 18 points per game. Conversely, Miami averages just under 26 points per game with number one under center. The numbers highlight just how much the offense suffers without Tua playing. Bridgewater or Thompson unfortunately don’t offer the skillset and big play ability that Tagovailoa possesses.
Teddy Bridgewater would most likely be in line to start on Sunday if he can comfortably throw a football. Bridgewater left Miami’s 23-21 loss to the Patriots with a finger injury that has now been reported as a dislocated pinky on his throwing hand. If progress is not made before Sunday, seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson is in line to make his second professional start. Thompson started against this Jets team back in week five, a 40-17 loss in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The quarterback position is critical to the Dolphin’s success, but they have a way to pivot in week 18. This will fall on the dynamic offensive weapons Miami has on offense.
Calling all playmakers
Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle must come to play in this game. Having debatably the best WR duo in the NFL, whoever plays quarterback for the Dolphins has to find a way to get it to them. Hill has had a dazzling season, sitting second in receptions and receiving yards behind Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. He is also tied for first in 40+ yard receptions, displaying his big play ability throughout the season that made him so dynamic in Kansas City for all those years. Against the Jets in week five, Hill managed seven catches for a quiet 47 yards. He will need to be a lot louder in this game with the season on the line.
Hill’s wide receiving compadre Jaylen Waddle will also play a factor in this game. Waddle’s 1,312 receiving yards rank sixth in the NFL this season. Waddle was also quiet last time out against the Jets, catching three passes for 23 yards.
Hill and Waddle join the Eagles’ A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith as the only two duos to go over 1,000 receiving yards this season on the same team.
Balanced Attack! Miami Dolphins Week 18
The run game features the duo of Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. McDaniel knows Mostert well and knows what he is capable of. In the 2019 NFC Championship game, Mostert carried the ball 29 times for 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns to secure the 49ers’ win and a trip to the Super Bowl. Wilson offers a change of pace and should expect to see double-digit carries even as the second back. Mostert can also play a critical role in the short passing game, helping the Dolphins inch closer to first downs. This is an offense that ranks 24th in third down conversion rate. Therefore, everyone will need to play a part to avoid Thompson or Bridgewater staring at long third downs all game.
This will prove a tough matchup against a Jets defense that gives up the fourth-fewest points per game (19.1) and second-fewest passing yards per game. Miami will need to find ways to complete passes, forcing McDaniel to get creative with routes and options to his two big-name wide receivers.
A solid defense effort is needed
This Miami Dolphins defense is not what you would call an elite group. They give up the 27th most points per game and passing yards, and 20th most yards per game. Struggling in stopping teams on third down, a 41.5 percent rate places them 24th in the NFL.
Going up against Mike White and the New York Jets offense is not the worst matchup this Dolphins team could have in a must-win game. White and the Jets’ offense have struggled the last two weeks. Scoring 20 points combined and coming off an awful six-point performance against the Seattle Seahawks that ended the Jets’ postseason hopes.
The Dolphins will need key linebackers Bradley Chubb and Elandon Roberts to get pressure on Mike White and make him feel uncomfortable in the pocket. In addition, cornerback Xavien Howard will play a critical role matched up against Jets dynamo rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
It will take a team effort on defense to come together and close out the season strong.
Spread: New York Jets +1, Miami Dolphins -1.5
Total: Over/Under 38.5
Money line: New York Jets -120, Miami Dolphins +100
Game Prediction for Miami Dolphins Week 18!
Despite both teams having issues at Quarterback, there is still enough talent on the field for both offenses to hit the over 38.5 points bet here. Week 18 for the Miami Dolphins is a needed victory! I feel that might be the added motivation against the Jets who are simply playing the last game of their season.
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are far too explosive to keep quiet in a must-win scenario like this. Miami will look to get the ball in their hands at every given opportunity. Coach Mike McDaniel has also shown the ability to get tricky with plays, especially without Tua on the field. It wouldn’t be shocking if we see a position player throwing a touchdown pass or long gain to another position player in this game.
Breaking News: Joe Flacco set to start
Mike White did not play his best game in Week 17 but he knows eyeballs will be on him here to perform. Getting the ball to Garrett Wilson will be key to any success White and the Jets have on offense. Fellow receivers Elijah Moore and Corey Davis will also be looking to end the season on a high as both their careers are uncertain beyond this game. This article was written prior to the news of Mike White being ruled out. Joe Flacco is now set to star at QB for the Jets.
The Jets have nothing left to play for here whereas the Dolphins require a positive result to boost their playoff chances subject to results elsewhere. Therefore, look for points in what should be a high-scoring, surprisingly fun, and unpredictable season finale on Sunday afternoon.
Do you think the Miami Dolphins will win in Week 18?
Game Pick: Over 38.5
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