Game Predictions & Player Projections - MIA vs. PIT

David Dorey, @DMDorey
WILDCARD WEEK DET at SEA (SAT-8:15 PM ET) MIA at PIT (SUN-1:05 PM ET)
UPDATED NYG at GB (SUN-4:40 PM ET) OAK at HOU (SAT 4:35 PM ET)

Prediction: MIA 17, PIT 31 (Line: PIT by 10, O/U = 47)

UPDATE: Sammie Coates is expected to play and did not appear on the final injury report. Ladarius Green is still not through the concussion protocol or practicing and no longer is likely to play.

The 10-6 Dolphins snatched the final wild card despite ending the year with a beatdown by the visiting Patriots. The Fins are only 4-4 on the road and that was with Ryan Tannehill still playing. The 11-5 Steelers are 6-2 at home this year and this is a replay of Week 6 when the Dolphins won 30-15 in Miami.

This will be a cold game with only 23 degrees but the wind is minimal and there is no precipitation.

Miami Dolphins

1 @SEA 10-12 10 @SD 31-24
2 @NE 24-31 11 @LA 14-10
3 CLE 30-24 12 SF 31-24
4 @CIN 7-22 13 @BAL 6-38
5 TEN 17-30 14 ARI 26-23
6 PIT 30-15 15 @NYJ 34-13
7 BUF 28-25 16 @BUF 34-31
8 BYE --- 17 NE 14-35
9 NYJ 27-23      
News | Statistics | Roster
MIA @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Moore 250,1
RB Jay Ajayi 90,1 1-10
RB Kenyan Drake 20 1-10
WR Jarvis Landry 5-70
WR DeVante Parker 5-50
WR Kenny Stills 3-40,1
TE Dion Sims 2-20
PK Andrew Franks 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Last week getting steam rolled by the visiting Patriots was a reminder that the Fins are not likely to get very far in the playoffs. Matt Moore was an obvious step down but there is at least a glimmer of hope surrounding Ryan Tannehill. The Fins took that first meeting because it was the breakout game by Jay Ajayi but the Fins are on the road this time and there are no surprises about what Ajayi can do.

QUARTERBACK : Ryan Tannehill passed for 252 yards and no scores in the first meeting with the Steelers. Tannehill sprained his MCL a few weeks ago and had his cast removed. There is optimism that he could return in the playoffs but they have to get past this week for it to matter. An assessment of his availability will be made later in the week and I will assume that Matt Moore gets his fourth start. Moore has thrown for at least two scores in each of his starts though he's never had more than 236 passing yards.

RUNNING BACK : Jay Ajayi had his break out game back in Week 6 when he rushed 25 times for 204 yards and two touchdowns against the visiting Steelers. Even Damien Williams scored once in that game. Ajayi had cooled off significantly but then posted 206 yards and a score in Week 16 for his second 200 yard game against the Bills this year. Ajayi has been much less effective in the second half of the season and never had more than 79 rushing yards other than the repeat bombing of the Bills.

WIDE RECEIVER : The passing stats were already in decline before Tannehill was knocked out of the game in Week 14. DeVante Parker caught five passes for 28 yards in the first meeting with the Steelers but has just four scores on the year and only two efforts with more than 80 yards since the season opener. Jarvis Landry was the top receiver in Week 6 when he caught seven passes for 91 yards. Landry already caught scores in two of the three starts by Moore and gained more than 75 yards in the games that did not include a 200 yard rushing effort by Ajayi.

Kenny Stills only caught two passes for 12 yards in that first meeting But he caught seven touchdowns over the next ten games including each of the last four weeks. His yardage rarely breaks 50 yards but his nine touchdowns on the year dwarf everyone else and he's scored in every game with Moore.

TIGHT END : No fantasy value. Dion Sims caught three scores over two weeks but only had two catches for 10 yards combined from the last two weeks.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: If Tannehill can play it would be a boost but less so if he is not fully healthy and has no mobility. The Dolphins win last time was because it was at home and no one had any idea that Ajayi could run for 200 yards. He had never rushed for more than 48 yards in any game before that. The Steelers are definitely weaker against the rush and have given up nine scores to visiting running backs this season and three have broken 100 yards there including Isaiah Crowell's 152 yards last week (though the Steelers were resting players).

Ajayi is a good start here and should at least gain moderate yardage and potentially score but it depends on how well (or badly) that Moore passes and if the Steelers get an early lead and force the Fins to pass more and earlier.

The Steelers have been good against the pass and no team threw for more than two touchdowns on them all year. Assuming that Moore plays, the best that can be hoped for is slop time yards and maybe an extra score. Landry and Stills are worth considering here for at least their average showing and likely a bit better. I'll update later if Tannehill ends up playing but it wouldn't change a lot.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIA 21 15 16 27 28 11
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 3 25 5 19 11 3

Pittsburgh Steelers

1 @WAS 38-16 10 DAL 30-35
2 CIN 24-16 11 @CLE 24-9
3 @PHI 3-34 12 @IND 28-7
4 KC 43-14 13 NYG 24-14
5 NYJ 31-13 14 @BUF 27-20
6 @MIA 15-30 15 @CIN 24-20
7 NE 16-27 16 BAL 31-27
8 BYE --- 17 CLE 27-24
9 @BAL 14-21      
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 300,3
RB Le'Veon Bell 90,1 5-40
WR Cobi Hamilton 2-30
WR Antonio Brown 8-90,1
WR Sammie Coates 3-40
WR Eli Rogers 5-50,1 -
TE Jesse James 4-10,1
TE Ladarius Green 5-70,1
PK Chris Boswell 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Steelers are on a seven game winning streak and rested all their key players last week. They wanted this rematch after being beaten in Miami and the team is as healthy as they have been in a while. Playing at home in the cold should be another advantage over the fair weather Dolphins.

QUARTERBACK : The first meeting with the Dolphins was a surprise in many ways. Ben Roethlisberger was held to only 189 yards and one score but he tore his meniscus in that game and was out for a a few weeks. Roethlisberger threw for at least two scores in every home game this year and totaled 20 over the six times he played there.

RUNNING BACK : Le'Veon Bell ran for only 53 yards on ten carries and caught six passes for 55 yards in Miami in Week 6. It was one of his worst performances of the year. Bell has since scored nine times over the last seven games and ran for at least 93 yards in each of the last six games that he played.

WIDE RECEIVER : The passing stats were down in Week 6 and Antonio Brown had one of his worst performances with just four catches for 39 yards. Brown has not broken 100 yards since Week 10 though he's scored 12 times on the year. He's always been good for a touchdown if not 100 yards when at home. Cobi Hamilton scored last week with three catches for 54 yards but that was with Brown sitting out. Eli Rogers only gained 35 yards on four catches in Miami but has since become busier in recent weeks with at least 61 yards in each of the last three games.

TIGHT END : Ladarius Green was held out last week because of a concussion but is expected to return for this game. Green was not yet playing yet when these teams initially met. Green has only seen limited play because of injuries but his best game of the year was in the most recent home game when the posted six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown against the Giants.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Steelers just had "one of those games" in the first meeting and lost Ben Roethlisberger in the process. Back at home this should be a much different outcome and adding in the quarterback problems for the Fins only makes this even more appealing.

The Fins are better against the run than the pass. They have allowed five scores to road running backs and both LeGarrette Blount and LeSean McCoy broke 100 yards against them. Le'Veon Bell is a must start and should turn in his normal big yardage game with at least one score.

The Dolphins are weaker against the pass though. Their last six games had them giving up 16 passing scores with four of them being at least three touchdowns. Green is a nice start here since the Fins have been destroyed by two recent road tight ends that they faced. Dennis Pitta (9-90, 2 TD) and Charles Clay (8-85, 2 TD) had their best performances on the year versus the visiting Dolphins.

Antonio Brown will have a nice bounce back in this game but none of the other wideouts are reliable enough to merit any consideration.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 7 7 5 15 20 14
Preventing Fantasy Points MIA 29 19 24 25 16 13
WILDCARD WEEK DET at SEA (SAT-8:15 PM ET) MIA at PIT (SUN-1:05 PM ET)
UPDATED NYG at GB (SUN-4:40 PM ET) OAK at HOU (SAT 4:35 PM ET)

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