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Gameday – Playoffs on the line in Dolphins-Chiefs matchup

Roy Cummings

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Allen Eyestone/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

What: Miami Dolphins (6-8) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

When: 1 p.m.

Latest line/Over-under: Dolphins +10.5/43.5

 

Why you should watch

 Isn’t obvious? This game has playoff implications. And not just for the Chiefs either. It’s hard to imagine but despite their 6-8 record, the Dolphins are still alive in the playoff race. In fact, there are still several different scenarios in which the Dolphins can make the playoffs. The common denominator in all of them: The Dolphins have to win out. There’s no more losing and staying alive, which they managed to do a week ago when they lost on the road at Buffalo. It really is do or die then for Miami. As for the Chiefs, they have a little more room for error, but the fact of the matter are this: They can clinch the AFC West with a win over the Dolphins today. Many thought that title would go to the Raiders this year, so the Chiefs will be looking to seize their opportunity to stay on top.

 

Key on: Dolphins WR DeVante Parker

 Dolphins quarterbacks have had a devil of a time throwing the ball to  DeVante Parker this year. They have thrown at least six interceptions, including one last week, when targeting Parker and currently have a passer rating of 52.5 when throwing his way. According to Pro Football Focus, only one wide receiver has produced a worse passer rating for his quarterback than Parker, who continues to be featured heavily in the Dolphins attack. A week ago, for example, the Dolphins targeted Parker 12 times. The result, though, was minimal as he caught just six passes for 89 yards and no touchdowns. They might have better luck this week. Parker is expected to draw cornerback Terrance Mitchell in coverage and if he does, Parker just might have the edge. Mitchell has had a pretty rough go of it himself this year, allowing an average of 1.87 yards per coverage snap, which is tied for 117th out of 120 qualified corners, per PFF.

 

Statistically speaking

 For a couple of reasons, this game figures to be a close, low-scoring affair. For starters, the Dolphins have one of the worst scoring offenses in the NFL. They’re averaging 18 points per game, which ranks 26th overall. Not only that, but the Chiefs are pretty stingy at home. They have yet to allow a team to score more than 20 points on them at Arrowhead Stadium, where they held the Eagles (31.3 points per game, second overall) to 20 points and Pittsburgh (24.6 ppg, 9th) to 19. And then there’s this: The Chiefs have an average margin of defeat this year of 5.67, which is the lowest in the league. Of their six losses this year, five have been by less than a touchdown. The only team to win handily against them so far has been the Cowboys, who beat them 28-17.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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