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Game Date/Time : Sunday, October 27, 2019, Time : 1:00 PM ET
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NFL London Schedule 2019: Where to Watch Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams, TV Channel, Live Stream. The NFL returns to London for the third time this season as the Cincinnati Bengals take on the Los Angeles Rams at Wembley Stadium.
It’s the fourth time the Rams visit the British capital, but their first chance to play in Britain’s biggest stadium since relocating to Los Angeles.
CINCINNATI — The last time Zac Taylor and Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay were on the same field, they were trying to win a Super Bowl together.
A lot has changed when they meet again on Sunday. McVay’s Rams are still a formidable threat in the NFC. Taylor, who is now with the Cincinnati Bengals after two years under McVay, is still looking for his first win as a head coach.
Despite his friend’s rocky start, McVay believes the adversity will show why the 0-7 Bengals should be optimistic about Taylor.
“I think all of this time has really demonstrated what makes Zac Taylor special,” McVay said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “To stay consistent, to be resilient, and I have no doubt the future is really bright for the Bengals under his guidance and leadership.”
Taylor came to Cincinnati after serving as one of McVay’s offensive assistants. Taylor was an assistant wide receivers coach in 2017 and then moved to the quarterbacks room in 2018 during the Rams’ run to Super Bowl 53. One day after the loss to the Patriots, Taylor was named the Bengals’ 10th head coach.
McVay said Taylor played an instrumental role in establishing the culture McVay wanted when he arrived in Los Angeles in 2017 as the youngest coach in modern NFL history at age 30. One of the reasons he got along so well with Taylor was his passion for people and treating them the right way.
As Taylor adjusts to life with the Bengals, McVay said the conversations between them are less about fixing things and more about friendly banter, especially ahead of Sunday’s game in England.
Zac Taylor is still looking for his first win as an NFL head coach going into his matchup against former boss Sean McVay and the Rams. Frank Victores/AP Photo
“It’s not necessarily any advice,” McVay said. “It’s more (that) we kind of call and keep in touch. It will be a lot better after this game where I think we can speak a little bit more openly.”
Taylor said the conversation between the two halted three or four weeks ago in preparation for Sunday’s game in which the Bengals will be heavy underdogs. Cincinnati is at risk of matching its worst start to a season since 2008, when the Bengals lost eight straight games during the middle of Marvin Lewis’ coaching tenure.
As Taylor tries to do what his former boss did and turn a struggling franchise into a championship contender, he said McVay has been someone to rely on, even if they haven’t talked in awhile.
“This coaching fraternity, just because a team’s on your schedule five games down the road doesn’t mean you shut off contact,” Taylor said. “You still help each other in certain ways. He’s always been encouraging, especially during this tough stretch. He knows the culture we’re working to build and the approach that we’re taking.”
Sunday’s meeting will be the first time McVay will face one of his former assistants. A lot has changed in Los Angeles over the past eight months, including the schemes Taylor was familiar with during his two-year stint.
But the sentiment from his former colleagues has remained consistent, even though he’ll be on the opposite sideline on Sunday.
“I wish Zac the best,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff told reporters on Wednesday. “Still want to beat him this week, but I wish him the best, and I think he will do a great job moving forward.”
The franchise’s only visit to Wembley dates all the way back to 2012 when the then-St. Louis Rams were on the receiving end of a 45-7 shellacking from the New England Patriots.
In 2016, the Rams lost 17-10 to the New York Giants and a year later they thrashed the Arizona Cardinals 33-0, but both games were played at Twickenham—the home of England’s rugby team.
Bar a major surprise, the Rams’ record in London will read 2-2 after this weekend as the defending NFC champions take on what is statistically the worst team in the NFL.
The Bengals, whose only game in London ended in a 27-27 draw against the Washington Redskins three years ago, fell to 0-7 after a 27-17 home defeat against Jacksonville last week.
Andy Dalton threw three interceptions in just over four minutes in the fourth quarter, as the Bengals offense imploded in spectacular fashion.
Dalton led Cincinnati with 33 rushing yards and aside from Joe Mixon’s two-yard run, no other player contributed.
With the trade deadline looming large on October 29, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bengals go in full-tank mode in a bid to accumulate picks and ensure they will hold the first overall selection in next year’s draft.
The Rams, on the other hand, have already got their business done ahead of the trade deadline, after signing Jalen Ramsey.
Los Angeles went all-in for the cornerback, sending two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder to Jacksonville for Ramsey, who had missed the last three games with a mysterious back injury.
To nobody’s surprise, the 24-year-old enjoyed a miraculous recovery in time to make his debut in the Rams’ 37-10 win over the Falcons in Atlanta.
The Rams held the Falcons to 224 yards as they snapped a three-game losing streak to improve to 4-3 for the season.
Ramsey looked slightly rusty but contributed to an excellent defensive performance from the Rams, who recorded five sacks, an interception and a fumble return.
While it is still too early to determine how big an impact the All-Pro cornerback will have on the Rams’ Super Bowl chances, the prospect of Ramsey and Aaron Donald playing together has fans salivating in Los Angeles.
The game against the Bengals should help the Rams restore even more confidence, but upcoming matchups against Pittsburgh, Chicago and Baltimore will paint a better picture of where the Rams are at.
Here’s all you need to know ahead of Sunday.The Cincinnati Bengals take on the Los Angeles Rams at Wembley Stadium in London, England, on Sunday, October 27.
Kick-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET).
The game will be nationally broadcast by CBS.
A live stream will be available via CBS’s digital plaftorms as well as via fuboTV.
The Rams snapped a three-game losing streak in Week 7, defeating the Falcons 37-10 in Atlanta to improve to 4-3 but remain third in the NFC West.
The Bengals, meanwhile, are statically the worst team in the nation after plunging to 0-7 on the back of a 27-17 at home against Jacksonville.
The Bengals lead the all-time series 8-5 and have won the last three meetings against the Rams, with the most recent win coming in November 2015.
According to Oddschecker, the Rams are 13-point favorite and are 19/20 to cover the spread, while the Bengals are 24/5 underdogs.
WATFORD, England —
The Rams conducted a walk-through Friday on a soft, rain-soaked field at their bucolic hotel just west of London. With its sprawling grounds, meandering gardens and grass tennis courts, the place has the feel of a stately English manor — Touchdownton Abbey, if you will.
The Rams stayed in Atlanta this week after beating the Falcons there Sunday. They left Thursday night and arrived in London on Friday morning.
Clearly, the Rams feel at home even when they’re far from Los Angeles. With Sean McVay as coach, they are 6-0 in games in the Eastern time zone, and 1-0 in London.
“I think the guys just handle it really well,” said McVay, whose team plays the winless Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. “We’re kind of used to traveling, even going back to a couple of years ago. Being on the road, last week when the lights went out on our hotel [in Atlanta] on Saturday night, you kind of say, ‘Hey, this feels like something we’re used to handling.’
“The guys just seamlessly adjust and adapt, and it’s about getting ready for a football game. Doesn’t really matter where.”
In 2017, McVay’s first season, the Rams rolled over the Arizona Cardinals, 33-0, at Twickenham Stadium.
Los Angeles Rams v Atlanta Falcons
Rams’ Todd Gurley looking forward to this London trip for a change
Oct. 24, 2019
“That was certainly a positive experience for us,” said McVay, whose team had stayed over in Jacksonville, Fla., in the days following a victory over the Jaguars. “We used a very similar format. We stayed in Jacksonville before; we stayed in Atlanta this past time. Came out the same time, kind of kept a very similar schedule. We’re hopeful for a very similar result.”
Ramsey up to speed
A little more than a week after he was acquired in a trade with the Jaguars, All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey continues to make strides. Safety Eric Weddle said Ramsey likely will be even better than he was in his debut, when he did a solid job of putting the clamps on Falcons star receiver Julio Jones.
“He’s just getting more comfortable in different coverages and different techniques,” Weddle said. “A guy that’s played a certain defense and certain techniques his entire career, and then he comes here and is asked to do some different things, it takes a little bit of time. But he’s so fluid, he’s so explosive, and he works on it.
“Certain techniques that we’re teaching here that complement how good of a press corner he is, it’s only going to make him better. He’s doing a great job. Just an unbelievable teammate.”
Los Angeles Rams v Atlanta Falcons
Rams jet-setter Jalen Ramsey heading to London
Oct. 23, 2019
The Rams had five sacks in their 37-10 victory over the Falcons, and Ramsey played a significant role because his blanketing coverage denied quarterback Matt Ryan chances to get rid of the ball as quickly.
“He was the same guy as the last couple of years, you know, dominate, lock guys down, give an opportunity for the defensive line to rush the passer,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “To have him on defense on the back end, with the guys we’ve already got, is a big plus for us up front. Quarterbacks second-guess themselves and give us more opportunities to get to the passer.”
Cornerback Troy Hill, who has started the last two games in place of injured Aqib Talib, did not practice early in the week because of a hamstring injury. McVay said Thursday that he expected Hill would play, but on Friday Hill was limited and is listed as questionable for Sunday. If Hill sits out, Darious Williams would start in his place.
It would be the second consecutive start for Williams, an undrafted free agent the Rams claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens last October.
Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens
Former Rams assistant Zac Taylor still is trying to win over the Bengals as coach
Oct. 23, 2019
With Ramsey coming off the bench last week, Williams played 19 snaps on defense and 22 on special teams. He scored the Rams’ final touchdown when Troy Reeder forced a fumble on a punt return and Williams recovered the ball in the end zone.
Linebacker Bryce Hager did not practice because of a lingering shoulder injury and will not play Sunday. Reeder will continue to start at inside linebacker. McVay said the Rams were “hopeful” that linebacker Clay Matthews (broken jaw) would return after next week’s open date. After the Rams play the Bengals, they will be off for a week and then return to prepare for a Nov. 10 game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
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Honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his “long and distinguished reporting in the field of pro football,” Sam Farmer has covered the NFL for 25 seasons. He’s a winner of California Sportswriter of the Year and first place for beat writing by Associated Press Sports Editors, and has had unique assignments such as climbing Mount Rainier with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, traveling with an officiating crew, spending a week behind the scenes with Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks, sitting in the “Monday Night Football” booth, piloting the Goodyear blimp and watching games on Sunday alongside John Madden. Farmer, a 1988 graduate of Occidental College, began his career at small papers in the Pacific Northwest before moving on to the San Jose Mercury News, where he was an Oakland Raiders beat writer for five seasons. At various times, he has also been a beat writer covering the NBA, PGA Tour, and college football and basketball.
Gary Klein covers the Los Angeles Rams for the Los Angeles Times. Before that, he covered USC’s football program and athletic department. He began working for The Times in the San Fernando Valley edition and has reported on high school, college and pro sports. He grew up in Southern California and graduated from Cal State Northridge.
NFL picks: Predictions for Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers | Monday Night Football.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin chose his words carefully. Partly out of habit. Partly out of respect.
Asked why the winless Miami Dolphins (0-6) have taken steps toward competency after a horrific start heading into Monday night’s visit to Pittsburgh (2-4) — their last two losses have come by a combined 11 points — the Steelers coach played it down the middle.
“They are a professional football outfit,” Tomlin said.
One that is starting to look like one — at least just a little — on defense. So forgive Tomlin if he views Miami as something more than a mere speed bump for his own banged-up team, which has a very slim window to resurrect its season. Yes, the Dolphins are rebuilding under first-year coach Brian Flores. Yes, they haven’t won a game in over 300 days. Yet there’s a freedom amid the misery. With no expectations, Flores can experiment as he pleases. He can order a fake field goal or an onside kick, as he’s done in each of the last two games, and if it doesn’t work, so what?
“What do you have to lose, right? What do we have to lose at this point?” Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “I think that’s part of the mentality and part of the mentality is just trying to get that to trickle down and rub off on everyone else, that aggression.”
Tomlin said that aggressive approach could be “troublesome” for an “inexperienced quarterback.”
He’s talking about Mason Rudolph, whose last appearance at Heinz Field ended when he slowly — very slowly — made his way to the sideline following a hit to the head by Baltimore’s Earl Thomas that briefly left him unconscious. Given three weeks to recover, Rudolph said he’s not concerned about any long-term effects of the harrowing collision that Thomas literally wiped from Rudolph’s memory.
“I’m going to go play the game I’ve always played and play with the aggressiveness and if I need to extend the play, that’s what’s going to happen,” Rudolph said. “I’m not going to think twice about worrying about getting hit in the right spot. That’s just the luck of the draw.”
Pittsburgh’s path forward in 2019 without injured franchise cornerstone Ben Roethlisberger will rely heavily on how quickly the offense can create a distinctive identity behind Rudolph and whether the defense can continue its hot start even with defensive end Stephon Tuitt out for the season with a pectoral injury .
The Steelers are tied for second in the NFL in takeaways (15) and rank fifth in sacks (20). Yet they remain wary despite being 6-0 all-time against Fitzpatrick, who threw for 411 yards and three touchdowns against Pittsburgh last season while playing for Tampa Bay.
“We have everything to lose,” Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds said. “We can’t really worry about what they’ve got going on. We’ve just got to come in and play our game because we’ve got to win. That’s just our whole mindset. We don’t want to lose any more games. That’s how we’re approaching each week. Regardless of their team record, if they’re coming in undefeated, if they come in here with all losses, we’ve still got to go out there and play our game.”
The Dolphins’ offensive line became a revolving door this year with personnel turnover that extended past the end of training camp. As coaches sort out their options and deal with injuries, Miami has had the same five starters for two games in a row only once.
But there are signs the group is beginning to mesh. Fitzpatrick wasn’t sacked in last week’s loss at Buffalo , and Miami topped 100 yards rushing for the first time.
“There’s been so much improvement from Week 1 to now,” Fitzpatrick said. “A lot of that is just working together, whether it’s at practice or just sitting at a lunch table. I think we all know each other a little bit now. Everybody knows each other’s names, and that’s something we didn’t have in the first few weeks.”
OUTSIDE THE LINE(BACKERS)
The Steelers will be without backup outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, who is on the commissioner’s exempt list following his Oct. 20 arrest on misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident with his girlfriend at a resort during the team’s bye week. Chickillo was a fixture in the linebacker rotation alongside Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt. Now it will be up to Ola Adeniyi and perhaps recently re-signed Jayrone Elliott to help pick up some of the slack.
“I think all of our guys that aren’t front-line starters better have big-time versatility,” Tomlin said. “Playing right or left should not be significant in terms of their ability to put their hand in the pile and aid us, particularly at the outside linebacker positions.”
The Dolphins rank last in the NFL in passer rating, but their wideouts are a bright spot in the sputtering offense.
DeVante Parker has caught a touchdown pass in the past three games, the longest streak of his five-year career. Undrafted Preston Williams ranks second among all NFL rookies with 23 catches, which leads the Dolphins, and he also leads team with 314 yards receiving.
“I take pride in it, but it’s nothing without wins,” Williams said. “Winning is No. 1 on my list.”
After enjoying their bye-week, the Pittsburgh Steelers look to begin their first winning streak of 2019 when the Miami Dolphins stroll into town. Miami, currently winless and the favorite to land the first overall pick in 2020 NFL Draft, would be more than happy to play the role of spoiler to Pittsburgh’s hopes of making a run to postseason contention once more.
It’s an important match-up for one player specifically: Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, traded to the Steelers after things went sour in Miami, made it very clear that the Dolphins weren’t the team for him.
“The falling out between the Miami Dolphins and Minkah Fitzpatrick has been bitter sweet” said Josh Houtz, Miami Dolphins writer for Dolphins Maven/Sports Illustrated. “On one hand, Miami misses Minkah. After all, the secondary is a huge concern and Fitzpatrick did a lot of great things. However, he didn’t want to be here, which was obvious. Fitzpatrick wasn’t used to losing and he and his mother didn’t like that he was playing a variety of roles-which ironically enough, he continues to say he love to do. I would rather have minkah than the first-round pick the Steelers gave up, but the relationship was NOT repairable.
The Steelers aren’t alone in their quarterback troubles, as the Dolphins are currently in the midst of dancing between Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick appears as if he’ll get the start, although many fans in Miami want to see Rosen get more opportunity. Let’s get an insider’s perspective on the quarterback situation in Miami:
“Moving on from Rosen after investing a second-round pick would be a huge mistake IMO. After all, Rosen is 22-years old and continues to be put in a no-win situation. Id rather keep him on the roster to compete or be a viable back-up down the road” said Houtz. “As for Fitzpatrick, the offense seems light years better with him at the helm and he seems like a guy the team can rally behind. He’s under contract through next season so there’s a very good chance whoever the QB is, will have a 17-year veteran to learn behind.”
When asked to look into his magical crystal ball, Houtz sees the same outcome as nearly everybody else.
“As for the crystal ball, this historically bad season has one light at the end of the tunnel, and that is Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. Sure, there are several QBs in the draft with the potential to alter a franchise, but he’s the guy. #TankForTua”
Shifting from an offensive focus to defensive, the Dolphins are currently surrendering 35 points per game. While no singular party is to blame for Miami’s defensive woes, does Josh believe coaching or lack of exceptional play from the players hold responsibility?
“I believe it’s a little of both, although several months ago we were ready to call Brian Flores a defensive genius. Truth is, the Dolphins have played some tough games early on in 2019: Baltimore, New England, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington and Buffalo. The only team on that list that isn’t really a good football team is Washington” said Houtz.
“It also doesn’t help that some of Miami’s best players continue to miss games. Xavien Howard has been out the last two weeks, and Reshad Jones was vs Buffalo. There’s also not much depth in the secondary and with a lack of pass-rush, opposing QBs have all day to throw. So yes, it’s a little of both.”
But things aren’t all bad in Miami, and Josh was quick to point to the emerging bright spots on a team that’s yet to bring home a victory.
“Some of the low-risk, high-reward signings the Dolphins made this season look promising. Vince Biegel, a guy that looked like a throw in from New Orleans for Kiko Alonso, leads the team in pressures. Taco Charlton, claimed off waivers, leads the team in sacks. Robert Nkemdiche is back, UDFA Preston Williams looks like a true #1, Parker emerges, Mark Walton, the list goes on and on” said Houtz.
So although it seems like everything is doom and gloom, there are some potential superstars being born.”
In terms of game-planning, the Dolphins may be licking their chops to get to quarterback Mason Rudolph, who will be making his first start since suffering a concussion nearly three weeks ago. How will Miami be able to win? Stopping the run and making the back-up quarterback uncomfortable.
“The QB position is the first thing that stands out. With Big Ben out, defenses should focus on stopping the run and force Mason Rudolph/Devlin Hodges to make plays and beat you. Easier said than done, but I like those odds” says Houtz.
Yet football is as much of a match-up based game as the individual players playing it. So what match-ups (positional or grop) does Houtz believe can determine the game?
“As cliche as it sounds, the trenches-most notably the Dolphins offensive line. Miami has played musical chairs on the offensive line and although they improve each week, they still remain one of the biggest weaknesses on the roster. On the other side, Pittsburgh’s defense -from what I can tell- looks to be among the best in the NFL. I don’t know how the Dolphins will be able to win this game if they can’t find a way to protect the QB”.
Getting after the quarterback is something Pittsburgh has excelled in, amassing 20 sacks on the season thus far. Miami is tied for fourth in the league for sacks given up, with 24 allowed through six weeks played.
The Steelers come out of the bye week as heavy favorites despite sitting at 2-4 on the season. Will Pittsburgh right the ship with a bounce back win at home? The Steelers have walked away victorious the previous 17 home games on Monday Night Football, with number 18 being just as important as ever.
The Miami Dolphins do not operate in a hermetically sealed vacuum. They operate, for the most part, in the open and so every other NFL team understands what Miami is doing this 2019 season.
So everyone saw Miami’s offseason moves. And the trading away of veterans. And the trading away of good young talent in exchange for future draft picks. And the signing of mostly unproven younger players.
And everyone saw the results of that approach in the regular-season opener — a 59-10 loss to Baltimore.
After that? That’s when it happened. That’s when I believe I started to see something of a pattern among some Miami opponents.
I saw it from the New England Patriots in Week 2. Yes, the Patriots showed up and actually led 13-0 at halftime. But there’s no one who can convince me that group was fully charged in the first half. And the Dolphins, who had fallen behind 42-10 by halftime in the opener, looked better as a result.
Unfortunately for Miami, at halftime someone in the New England locker room must have decided their first half performance was unacceptable and the Patriots scored 30 points in the second half while shutting out the Miami offense.
The following week, I saw it again in Dallas. Facing a winless Miami team on Sept. 22 and with big games against New Orleans and Green Bay on their schedule in the ensuing weeks, the Cowboys didn’t come out six-shooters blazing that game.
They led only 10-6 at halftime.
And by sheer coincidence, I’m sure, something must have been said or done in that halftime locker room and Dallas scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to roll to a 31-6 victory.
The next week? Happened again. The Los Angeles Chargers, who came to Hard Rock Stadium believing themselves a playoff contender, were not sharp in the first half. Maybe it was the fact the game began at 10 a.m. on the west coast and the team’s collective body clock was off. Or maybe the Chargers underestimated the Dolphins.
The game was tight at halftime, as the Chargers led only 17-10.
And then, following the pattern of previous weeks, the Chargers defense shut down the Miami offense in the second half. Their offense put together a couple of scoring drives. And the Chargers walked away with an apparently easy, 30-10 win.
This is a clear pattern, folks.
The pattern took a week off against Washington on Oct. 13. And I don’t wonder why.
The Redskins stink. They stink every bit as much as Miami, except they have more talent and they’re not operating under the philosophy of tanking the season.
So the Redskins cannot take anyone for granted. And they played like that for three quarters, as they built a 17-3 lead.
But what makes this game interesting is that after taking the measure of the Dolphins the first three periods, it seemed the Redskins sort of relaxed. They went into lead protection mode.
The Dolphins changed quarterbacks to Ryan Fitzpatrick. And he rallied the team.
Miami barely lost, 17-16.
Last week, the familiar early game malaise returned. The Buffalo Bills, coming off a bye and with big games after Miami on the horizon, trailed the Dolphins 14-9 at halftime. In Buffalo!
: I think we just came out a little slow,” defensive end Trent Murphy said. “We talked about wanting to come out fast, we knew they were going to be ready to play. It just wasn’t there and it took us a second to wake up. We just need to do our jobs with a little more sense of urgency.”
Buffalo middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said the game was something of a lesson for the Bills to not look at an opponent’s record and too feel comfortable.
“You can never relax, man,” he said. “It’s the NFL so we have to bring our A-game each week and no game is going to be easy. You can’t look at anybody’s record, bring it every week and come ready to work.”
Yeah, no kidding. The Bills seemed almost surprised the Dolphins were competing in the first half. The problem is it’s a 60-minute game and the Bills showed up for the second half. They outscored Miami, 22-7 and went away with a 31-21 victory.
That brings me to the Monday night game at Pittsburgh.
I suppose the Steelers, a storied franchise with ongoing designs of competing for a playoff spot this year, could take the Dolphins for granted like others seemingly have. Miami is, after all, 0-6.
But there’s a small problem with that thinking. The Steelers are kind of stinky in their own right. They come to the game with a 2-4 record that impresses no one and entitles them to nothing. So this is not exactly a David vs. Goliath match.
“Are you familiar with our record and journey to this point?” coach Mike Tomlin asked incredulously when the subject of under-estimating Miami was raised. “You know, we’re not in position to overlook anybody. We’re a fragile group. We’re dealing with similar circumstances. From that standpoint, it’ll be a level playing field on Monday night.”
The Dolphins’ perspective is that it’s a level playing field all the time. They don’t believe anyone has underestimated them all year long.
“I can’t speak to whether or not another team underestimates us or didn’t underestimate. There’s no way for me to actually know that,” Miami coach Brian Flores said. “My opinion is that they’re not.
“I think every team, every coach, they’re trying to go out there and move the ball offensively and stop them defensively and win the field position battle in the kicking game. I don’t think anyone is not trying to do that or thinks that the other team is going to not go out there and play. I don’t think that’s the case. That’s my thought process there.”
Fitzpatrick is not exactly on the same page with his coach on this. But he’s on the same chapter. Because while he believes other teams must speak for themselves about underestimating an opponent, he realizes factors affect how they play, like they did at Buffalo for example.
“I think at this point, everybody that’s been in the NFL for a while, you understand that this is a competitive league and you’ve got to bring it every week,” Fitzpatrick said. “Sometimes – they were coming off a bye and whatever else, and sometimes some of that stuff plays into it.
“[The Bills] stepped up and we didn’t at the end of the game in the fourth quarter there.”
“Monday Night Football” features the Steelers hosting the Dolphins in a game that, let’s be honest, the NFL probably would have flexed out if it had the option. These two teams played in an AFC Wild Card game in 2017 that the Steelers easily won, 30-12, but most key players are gone. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown accounted for nearly 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns in the victory, and neither left Pittsburgh on good terms. Miami’s quarterback was Matt Moore, and he’s now in Kansas City, while Ben Roethlisberger currently patrols the Steelers’ sideline after suffering a season-ending elbow injury in Week 2.
The Dolphins are 0-6 already this season and have given up 30 points or more in all but one game against fellow bottom-dweller Washington. The storylines write themselves with this team, as they continue to tank… err try really, really hard to win this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick is back under center after Josh Rosen failed to produce. Miami’s defense has only one interception, courtesy of Bobby McCain, and seven sacks from five different players. Their one bright spot has been former first-rounder Taco Charlton, who was claimed off of waivers after being released by Dallas.
The Steelers are 2-4 and are coming off their bye week and begin a stretch of three straight at home. They have used three quarterbacks this season but it looks like Mason Rudolph will be back under center after missing Week 6 against the Chargers. This is a very good defense that should be able to put pressure on Miami from every level. First-rounder Devin Bush leads Pittsburg with 52 tackles and has added a sack and two interceptions. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick also is making an impact after being traded by the Dolphins to the Steelers in mid-September.
As mentioned above, Pittsburgh is coming off a bye week with two wins in their last three contests. The Steelers have to be feeling good about themselves and should be about as fresh as possible for this one. If this game gets out of hand, head coach Mike Tomlin may try and give some guys a breather as they get ready for a tough stretch of games (vs. Colts, vs. Rams, at Browns). For Miami, everyone is well aware of what the team is trying to accomplish even if the Dolphins have a “winnable” game up next at home against the Jets. This also is Miami’s third straight road game since its Week 5 bye.
2. Taking care of business
Miami has trailed at halftime by the following scores: 42-10, 13-0, 10-6, 17-10 and 7-3. Only once have the Dolphins led at the half, last week when they were up 14-9 at Buffalo (went on to lose 31-21). This shows that the team tries hard out of the gate before letting down in the second half. It’s a fascinating study to see this team pull off what they are doing. The Steelers need to use this game to get James Conner going since he has yet to run for more than 60 yards in a game this season. They also need to get Mason Rudolph going and build chemistry with JuJu Smith-Schuster. If top Miami cornerback Xavien Howard is out once again, then that should happen.
3. Trade deadline auditions
If I were a member of the Dolphins, I’d be playing hard so I could join a contender as the team continues to sell off assets. Running back Kenyan Drake was a name being thrown around quite a bit, but he’s averaging 3.7 yards per carry with two fumbles and no rushing touchdowns. Ryan Fitzpatrick should be garnering more interest as a backup somewhere or potentially a starter. He’s completed 59 percent of his passes but has three touchdowns to five interceptions. The FitzMagic version can help teams win games, but the FitzTragic version will make sure you have no shot. There are some decent veterans on defense who could be on the move too. Play hard and a reward could be a trade to a playoff contender.
I mean, the Steelers are going to win. I could write a flowery paragraph here about the advantages and edges they have, but let’s be honest, you’ve got one team trying and one not trying. It may be close early since Miami has shown the propensity to keep things competitive, but the lack of talent will catch up to them in the end. Pittsburgh gets this one in the win column as they make the push for a playoff berth.