Who has the edge? Dolphins (4-7) vs. Panthers (5-6)

Here’s a look at how the Miami Dolphins (4-7) and Carolina Panthers (5-6) match up in six key areas ahead of Sunday’s Week 12 game at Hard Rock Stadium (1 p.m., FOX):

When the Dolphins run: The Dolphins went back to committing to the run game against the Jets. While it only got them 3.5 yards per carry versus a run defense that ranks toward the bottom of the league, it was respectable enough to help open play-action and run-pass-option passes as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed better than 80 percent of passes in the win at New York.

Miami seeks a secondary contributor to Myles Gaskin in the backfield. With Malcolm Brown still on injured reserve and Salvon Ahmed ineffective, Duke Johnson was elevated from the practice squad last week. On Wednesday, the Dolphins claimed former Broncos and Texans running back Phillip Lindsay off waivers, so maybe his speed can help improve the NFL’s No. 31-ranked rushing attack that averages 77.4 yards per game on the ground.

The Panthers’ run defense is 19th in the NFL, allowing 114.5 yards per game. It starts with defensive tackles Derrick Brown and DaQuan Jones on the interior of the defensive line. Safety Jeremy Chinn leads the Carolina defense in tackles (71), and linebackers Shaq Thompson, Haason Reddick and Jermain Carter are also very active. Edge: Panthers

When the Panthers run: All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey missed time earlier this season, but he’s back and the Dolphins will have their hands full defending him. After also getting hurt last season, the Panthers have eased him into his workload in his three games since coming back. He is yet to have 15 carries in any of the three games since his return, but he’s averaging 5.5 yards per attempt in those games and has also been active in the passing game.

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The Dolphins also have to now account for quarterback Cam Newton and his running abilities. He has 60 yards and two touchdowns on 13 attempts in his two games, one start since returning to Carolina. The Dolphins faced him twice last season when he was in New England, so they shouldn’t have to dig too deep into their old game-plan files. They were better off in the second matchup against Newton that season, so they can build off that and also effectively stopping electric Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson two weeks ago.

The most rushing yards the Dolphins have given up since Week 5 is 102, twice. Miami has held opponents to double digits in the other four games since. So, although, Carolina is very talented in the run game, I’m going to call this matchup even, especially after seeing the Dolphins stop the run against Baltimore two weeks ago. Edge: Even

When the Dolphins pass: The Panthers have the NFL’s top-ranked passing defense, and a look at their secondary and pass rushers makes it very clear why. Carolina has elite Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore since acquiring him from the Patriots on Oct. 6, but the Panthers have eased him into …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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