NFL Preview: Dolphins vs Raiders
The NFL day after Christmas slate ends with one of the most important games of the week for the AFC playoff picture. The Miami Dolphins, that right now sit in the final AFC wild card spot, must win out to guarantee a playoff position. The Dolphins have won 3 of the last 4 games and rookie quarterback, Tua Tagovialoa, has started playing like a first round pick since returning from injury three weeks ago. Since week 13, Tagovialoa has scored 6 touchdowns and has a quarterback rating over 85.5. The Miami defense has also helped the young quarterback by leading the league in points scored against coming into week 16 and sitting second with a +10 turnover differential.
The Raiders are also in the hunt in the AFC playoff picture, but they need to win out and get a lot of help. Las Vegas should get some of that help with veteran QB Derek Carr returning from injury this week. Before his injury, Carr has had an up and down season but has posted his best quarterback rating of his 7 year career. The Raiders will have to get the struggling running game going in order to allow Carr to move out of the pocket and look downfield. RB Josh Jacobs has had a great season, but hasn't rushed for more than 75 yards in each of the last five game while only having 2 rushing touchdowns during the same stretch.
Two things will determine the outcome of this game Saturday night, 3rd down conversions and turnovers. The Dolphins have the best defense in the league on 3rd down while the Raiders have the best 3rd down offense in the league. The Raiders will need a strong running performance to avoid facing many 3rd and long situations that the Dolphins thrive in. Miami not only stops teams on third down, they force turnovers better than anyone else in the league on 3rd down. I think Josh Jacobs in the reason the Raiders win this game. I think he goes for over 100 yards and scores a couple touchdowns while Carr avoids turning the ball over and finds receivers over the top of the vulnerable Miami secondary. Expect a shootout in Vegas. Raiders 31-24