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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins preview

Miami’s season is threatening to unravel after three-straight defeats but the Dolphins will hope a fit-again Tua Tagovailoa can help them stop the rot when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ever since first-choice quarterback Tua suffered a concussion in the Week Four clash at the Cincinnati Bengals, the Fins have been floundering. Miami lost that game to the Bengals and suffered subsequent defeats to the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings to drop them to 3-3. 

Having opened the season with three straight wins, Miami are desperate to get their campaign back on track and are expected to do just that at the Steelers expense. 

The Dolphins are 7.5-point favourites at 10/11 on the spread to beat a Pittsburgh team with a 2-4 record. However, the Steelers showed they aren’t to be underestimated last time out when stunning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and are 11/4 to complete a Florida double.

WhatPittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins
WhereHard Rock Stadium, Miami
When01:00, Monday 24th October 2022
How to watchSky Sports Main Event, NFL Game Pass &  bet365's sports live streaming
OddsPIT Steelers 11/4, MIA Dolphins 2/7

Steelers out to show their mettle 

Pittsburgh’s 20-18 win over the Bucs came out of the blue with Mike Tomlin’s men having lost four on the bounce before then, including a crushing loss to the Buffalo Bills. 

The Steelers' win was made all the more impressive given they lost starting quarterback Kenny Pickett to a concussion late in the third quarter. In stepped Mitchell Trubisky, who was benched for Pickett earlier in the year, to play the role of the unlikely hero, throwing for 144 yards and the game-winning touchdown to Chase Claypool. 

It was a remarkable performance by a team missing a host of starters and ranked in the bottom four on both offence and defence, but the big question now is whether they can back up that victory? Pittsburgh have at least received some good news on the injury front with Pickett practicing and cleared to play, while former Dolphin Minkah Fitzpatrick could lead a host of defensive backs out of the treatment room and back to the field. 

The Steelers could also have the inside track on the majority of the Miami roster with former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, now a senior defensive assistant for Pittsburgh, on their staff. 

Fins just fine against one-dimensional Steelers offence 

Flores will be desperate to get one over on the team that fired him last off-season but that won’t prove easy with some fundamental flaws yet to be addressed by the Steelers. The first is an inability to run the football with Pittsburgh’s rushing attack ranked 28th in the league. 

A bad offensive line is struggling to open holes and against an above-average Miami run defence, they’ll find it tough to move the ball on the ground with running back Najee Harris 10/11 to have under 45.5 yards. 

Pittsburgh’s inability to run the ball puts a lot of emphasis on the passing game, which will be orchestrated by rookie Pickett, who is making his third NFL start. 

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Cheetah could burn through Steelers secondary 

On the other side of the ball, a Pittsburgh defence ranked 30th against the pass faces a huge challenge trying to contain Dolphins wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Both men have had three 100-plus yard receiving games this season with ‘The Cheetah’ Hill putting up 177 yards against the Dolphins last week. 

These two have still been performing, despite the revolving door at quarterback for the Dolphins with Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson having both spent time under centre in Tua’s absence. Despite opinions still being split on Tua, the Fins have missed him the last two weeks. 

With the former Alabama signal caller in the line-up, the Dolphins were averaging 27.6 points per game, while in the last fortnight they’ve averaged 16 points. Tua was enjoying an excellent start before his injury and Miami were reaping the benefits, ranking top-10 for points and yards per game through the first three weeks as part of a 3-0 opening. 

Miami ready to restart playoff push 

Despite dropping back to 3-3, the Dolphins are still 5/8 to make the playoffs this year. However, if they want to be playing relevant football in January, these are the types of games they need to be winning.  

Whether Tua can pick up from where he left off will be key to Mike McDaniel’s men getting back to winning ways, but it may take a little time to jump-start their season. The potential for a little ring rust from Tua, coupled with a Steelers offence averaging 16.2 points per game, brings the total into play with under 45.5 points at 10/11

A Miami win and the game going under the total is 6/4 and that would appear the most likely outcome given the Dolphins’ need to win is greater than a Pittsburgh side not considered playoff material.  

Defeating an out-of-sorts Buccaneers side at home is one thing but going to a desperate Dolphins team and claiming a victory could prove just out of reach for a limited Steelers side.

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