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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Miami Dolphins @ Carolina Panthers (-3)

In Week 11's Thursday night matchup, the NFL has scheduled the Dolphins against the Panthers. Prior to the season this game appeared to be quite the matchup on paper. With Miami's Wildcat offense featuring Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, and their spirited defense led by wild-man Joey Porter, the Dolphins looked to be a scary team to play all season. The home team, coming off their worst loss in franchise history (you know the one where Delhomme through 5 interceptions in the NFC Divisional game against Arizona), the Panthers still had a lot going for them on paper as well. Steve Smith is a sensational receiver that many thought would have a huge 2009 season. Well, the Panthers started off putrid, the Dolphins started off losing to better teams. Now, entering Week 11, this game is completely different than what we had expected. The Panthers are hot, one of the hottest teams in the NFL, as Jake Delhomme has not thrown an interception in 3 games and their running game has caught fire thanks to the emergence of a some-what healthy Jonathan Stewart.
The Dolphins lost Chad Pennington early in the season and put in Chad Henne who started out nicely against the Jets, however, Henne has been fortunate in his performances due in large part to Ronnie Brown running the ball. Well Brown is done for the season with a Lisfranc fracture and Ricky Williams will be the go to guy. Williams has looked great so far this season, but Brown and Williams countered each other perfectly and now the Dolphins do not have that. I expect Pat White to get more snaps in the Wildcat formation this week in order to keep the game plan similar for this offense. But with the way the Panthers have been running the ball, the way Delhomme has showed consistency over the past 3 games, and with a defense that has been more aggressive and made more plays over the past 3 games, how can I not take the Panthers? The Panthers are the better team, because the Dolphins no longer have their play maker. Ronnie Brown's absence will significantly hurt this Miami offense, but it does allow Miami to see more of Pat White and to show the Dolphin's faithful what a bright future this kid has in the Wildcat formation. All in all, the Panthers win this game for 3 reasons: 1- Their running game is too explosive to shutdown all game. 2- Jake Delhomme's arm has been consistent and I expect the play action pass to work nicely this week against the Dolphins young secondary. And 3- This defense plays much better when they are in Carolina (#1 home pass defense in the NFL, 10-3 SU in their last 13 home games).

Interesting stats to know for this game:
-In Jake Delhomme's 92 career games, he plays at an 89 QB Rating during the final 8 weeks of the regular season compared to a career 81 QB Rating during the first 8 weeks.
-Delhomme has 1 career start against Miami, and he had a 97 QB Rating throwing for 285 yards and 3 TDs.
-Miami Dolphins are 7-15 in their last 22 games straight up.

CAROLINA over MIAMI 24 - 10.

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