The Ravens open the season in Miami. They are nearly favored by a touchdown despite being on the road. Here’s why.
The Dolphins have had an eventful offseason. They replaced head coach Adam Gase with Brian Flores, replaced quarterback Ryan Tannehill with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen, and have siphoned offensive talent at an alarming rate. Kenny Stills and Laremy Tunsil were shipped off to Houston for a haul of future draft picks. The Dolphins have taken a nosedive in terms of talent, but they still have an assortment of talented defensive players led by Xavien Howard and Reshad Jones on the backend. Miami will look to be opportunistic with turnovers on defense and explosive plays on offense. On offense, the Dolphins have a pair of quality backs in Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage who will look to gash the Ravens’ run defense.
As optimistically as one can view the Dolphins’ situation, they seem to lack the talent to be able to compete this season. While the season has yet to start, many experts are predicting the Dolphins to finish with as many as 14 or 15 losses.
For the Ravens to hope to make the playoffs, they must take care of business against the Dolphins. In the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens are a resounding 7-1 against the Dolphins, including the last two wins coming by scores of 38-6 and 40-0. While the Ravens would be lucky to replicate those blowouts, the Dolphins will be looking to reverse history. The last time that the Ravens came to Miami, the Dolphins won 15-13 with a Justin Tucker missed field goal and failed Hail Mary in the final minutes.
Kickoff: 1pm ET on September 8
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
Spread: Ravens -7
Things to Watch:
Jackson was understandably limited in the preseason as he only played a handful of drives and was confined to the pocket on nearly every drop back. Sunday will be the first chance to see Jackson’s development in a real situation. Jackson must improve for the Ravens to make the playoffs again.
Sunday will be Ingram’s first set of snaps in a meaningful game situation. Ingram is the best running back to wear the purple and black since Ray Rice. Ingram offers upside as a runner and receiver out of the backfield, something the Ravens have lacked since the departure of Rice. Circling back to Jackson, it would be a fascinating development if Jackson was effective at hitting Ingram out of the backfield as he rarely looked for running backs in 2018.
Similar to Ingram, Thomas is the best defensive player that the Ravens have had since the Super Bowl 47 team. After dominating in Seattle for the better part of a decade, No. 29 comes to Baltimore to replace Eric Weddle. Thomas is unquestionably one of the best safeties in the history of the sport, but it has been well-documented that he has had a long time learning the terminology in Wink Martindale’s defense. Thomas may start slowly, but he should use Sunday as a tuneup for later in the season.
Prediction: Ravens win
While this is by no means a bold prediction, the Ravens will likely prevail over the Dolphins for the third consecutive time. The Ravens offense will have its ups and downs, but it is finally time for Greg Roman to unveil the offense he has been crafting over the last seven months.