Ravens vs Dolphins Game Preview
It’s the preseason but this one has the makings of a grudge match. Last season, Dolphins’ linebacker Kiko Alonso took out Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco with a late headshot. Flacco was concussed though Baltimore would smoke Miami 40-0.
The hatchet has been buried but either team would love a little payback. Both are currently on the outside looking in but are hopeful to return to the playoffs. This is a litmus test for each.
Flacco may not be a good quarterback anymore but he’s still all the Ravens have. The former Super Bowl MVP was once the richest NFL quarterback but has seen his play regress over the past three seasons. If Baltimore is to return to prominence, he’ll have to step it up.
If Flacco is just a shot player, the Ravens have Lamar Jackson. He is as raw of a quarterback prospect as you can get but he’ll have to learn fast if Baltimore wants to contend.
On paper, the Dolphins are the worst team in the NFL. Their exodus of players included their best defender in Ndamukong Suh and their top wideout in Jarvis Landry. But at least quarterback Ryan Tannehill returns.
Miami made a few additions to keep them competitive and they play in the weak AFC East. So even though they look hopeless, they could be better than the sum of their parts.
Continuity is the theme of this game. The Ravens have had less turnover on their team, especially on defence. Their offence will struggle with the new players but same can be said for the Dolphins who have a new offensive coordinator and a readjusting quarterback. Baltimore wins thanks to the strength of the defence and better coaching.
Ravens vs Dolphins Head-to-Head Records
Miami started off controlling this rivalry. They won the first four regular season games and five of the first six in what was mostly low-scoring affairs. The Ravens, however, defeated them in the 2002 wild card round. Following a 9-6 Dolphins victory in 2003, the series would take a different turn.
The Ravens would start to dominate winning the next five games and seven of the next eight including another playoff victory in 2009. The scoring would also start to increase with the teams usually combining to score 40 points or more.
Baltimore’s winning has been a testament to the disparity between the franchises. The Ravens have maintained being a powerhouse thanks to their elite defence while the Dolphins have floundered with inconsistency.
Currently, the Ravens are still the better team and still have a high-calibre defence as evidenced by their last meeting, a 40-0 shellacking of the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. Miami appears to be rebuilding again and their next few meetings will go the way of the Ravens who will build on their 9-6 series advantage.
Baltimore Ravens Recent History
The Ravens were the original Cleveland Browns and were led by Bill Bellichick, who famously helped build the ultimate Giants defence in the 1980’s. Art Modell would move the Browns to Baltimore in 1996 and although they would lose Bellichick, the foundations for their juggernaut defence were in place.
Baltimore would win their first Super Bowl just five seasons after their relocation led by all-time great linebacker Ray Lewis. They would fall into inconsistency in the following years prompting a coaching with John Harbaugh in 2008. The Ravens would instantly return to being a Super Bowl contender.
Their rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers would intensify and they would finish in the top two in the division for five straight years, all playoff appearances and culminate in a second Super Bowl title in 2012. But despite maintaining their elite defence, the Ravens have yet to return to their championship form.
Miami Dolphins Recent History
It has been a slow painful demise for the once-proud Dolphins franchise. Yet they still remain one of the NFL’s most popular teams. The height of their existence came in the ’70s where legendary coach Don Shula led them to three straight Super Bowls, winning two.
They would again return to the Super Bowl twice more in the early ’80s albeit in losing efforts. Dan Marino turned out to be one of the all-time great quarterbacks but couldn’t win one for the franchise. Shula and Marino would retire following the 1995 and 1999 seasons, respectively, and the franchise was never the same since.
Miami would only make two playoff appearances, both wild card round losses, and go through nine head coaches. The most recent season saw them do another cleanse as their best players exited leaving them with yet another rebuilding year. Dolphins fans can only reminisce about better times.
Baltimore Ravens Outlook
It’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde when it comes to this current Ravens team. Their defence is still elite especially their back-seven led by linebackers Terrell Suggs and CJ Mosley and safety Eric Weddle, all 2017 Pro Bowlers. They also added Anthony Averett to fill some much-needed cornerback depth.
But on offence, the Ravens need a major overhaul beginning at quarterback. Flacco has been a major liability in terms of his on-field play and his albatross of a contract. Baltimore needs upgrades on nearly every position from their offensive line to running back to wide receivers.
Until they find a way to get rid of Flacco, they will be limited in what they can do. Long-time general manager Ozzie Newsome stepping down isn’t ideal either. The Ravens will still be well-coached and have a stalwart defence but until they fix their offence, their chances of a third Super Bowl are slim.
Miami Dolphins Outlook
Among the Dolphins’ exiles during the 2017 offseason include their best receiver, their top tight end, and their best defender. The Dolphins did add a combination of veteran pieces and rookies but they are undoubtedly a worse team on paper and look like one of the AFC’s weakest teams.
Miami added ageless running back Frank Gore, slot receiver Danny Amendola, and leading edge rusher Robert Quinn. During the draft, they used their first-round pick to take Minkah Fitzpatrick to bolster their secondary and added Mike Gesicki at tight end.
Most notably, Tannehill is coming back to bring back stability at quarterback but without his best receiver and a patchwork offensive line, he’ll be handicapped for the season. Miami is fortunate to play in the league’s worst division so they won’t go winless.
This is going to be a tight affair and it’s almost a coin toss but the edge goes to Baltimore thanks to a significantly better defence. The game is most likely to be low-scoring given the challenges both offences face and the defence they have to go against.
Baltimore will likely give Flacco some reps although either Jackson or Robert Griffin III (if he isn’t cut yet) will get the lion’s share. The Ravens have little in terms of depth on offence, especially in terms of their receivers or running backs. The battle between Alex Collins, Javorious Allen, and Kenneth Dixon lingers.
Brock Osweiler will be playing most of the game for Miami although Tannehill is sure to get some reps in. Miami will get several of their draft picks plenty of snaps as they line the second teams. Both second units should cancel each other out. But the vast disparity with the first team can’t be ignored.
Baltimore will smash the Dolphins’ first team and the second teamers are solid enough to outduel the Dolphins. The Ravens have little reason to lose this outside being a significantly worse team on defence. But this is their game to lose.