NFL Wild Card Weekend
Miami Dolphins vs Pittsburgh Steelers Preview
The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak. They tied for the most postseason victories (34) in league history. They are not focused on their string of successes though. Instead, the Steelers will be looking to atone for one of their worst performances of the season when they host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in an AFC wild card weekend matchup (Enter contest).
Pittsburgh secured the AFC North title and the No. 3 seed in the conference with its strong finishing run, which partly was necessitated by a four-game losing streak that started with a 30-15 drubbing in Miami on October 15. The Steelers will be at home in the rematch and temperatures are expected to peak at a frosty 20 degrees on Sunday.
The Dolphins won nine of 10 prior to a loss to New England in the regular-season finale to nail down their first postseason berth since 2008, but they lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to injury in Week 14 and will be forced to go with veteran Matt Moore versus Pittsburgh. Moore will be making his first career postseason start.
ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (10-6)
No matter who is under center, Miami’s game plan figures to follow the blueprint of the mid-October matchup. Running back Jay Ajayi tore through Pittsburgh’s defense for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. It was the first of three 200-yard rushing performances this season by Ajayi. Quarterback Matt Moore, who had just 30 pass attempts in his previous four seasons with the Dolphins, put up solid numbers in his three starts (674 yards, eight TDs, three interceptions). He has a trio of talented wide receivers in Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. Miami’s defense ranked 30th against the run (140.4 yards per game). They did limit the Steelers rushers to 53 yards in the first matchup.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (11-5)
Le’Veon Bell ran a season-low 10 times against Miami, but he recorded at least 20 carries in each of his last six games before sitting out Week 17. He was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month for December/January after rushing for 569 yards and four touchdowns while catching 18 passes in four games. Bell is one of two elite weapons for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The quarteback has two Super Bowl championships on his resume. He also has one of the league’s top wideouts in Antonio Brown. Brown is the conference leader with 12 touchdown receptions. He surpassed 100 catches for the fourth straight season and totaled 481 receptions during that time. It’s the highest reception total in any four-year span in NFL history. Roethlisberger is 11-6 in the playoffs, tied for the seventh-best all-time winning percentage. Pittsburgh’s defense led the league with 21 sacks from Weeks 11-16.