Miami Dolphins vs Pittsburgh Steelers: prediction, preview, pick to win - Kogonuso


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Jan 7, 2017

Miami Dolphins vs Pittsburgh Steelers: prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  
A young fan reacts after receiving the football from Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Cobi Hamilton at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on January 1, 2017. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
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KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET, Heinz Field. TV: CBS.
SERIES HISTORY: 27th meeting. The series is tied, 13-13. The Dolphins won the last two meetings, including a 30-15 victory at Hard Rock Stadium in October. The Steelers are 7-4 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers and Dolphins have met three times in the postseason, with the Dolphins owning a 2-1 edge. The Dolphins beat the Steelers in the 1972 and 1984 AFC championship games to advance to the Super Bowl. The Steelers beat the Dolphins in the divisional round in 1979.
GAMEDATE: 1/8/17
For the first time in their four seasons together, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Bell and running/receiving back Le'Veon Bell will play in the same playoff game.
The Steelers narrowly missed the playoffs in Bell's rookie season in 2013. The Steelers made the playoffs in 2014 and 2015 but had to play without Bell, who had season-ending knee injuries both seasons. They also had to play without Brown in the divisional round in Denver last year after he was concussed in a wild-card game in Cincinnati.
But the Miami defense gets the Steeler's triplets, ready to go, especially after the Dolphins won during the season.
Bell is the biggest threat: He rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns and also caught 75 passes for 626 yards and two scores. The Dolphins kept Bell under control in October (108 yards from scrimmage). He will be a load for Miami's 30th-ranked run defense.
The Steelers' run defense will have its hands full with Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi. He is one of four players (joining O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, Tiki Barber) in NFL history with three games of 200 rushing yards in a season. He ran for 204 yards and two TDs against the Steelers.
There was a chance that QB Ryan Tannehill might return for this game (strained right knee), but Matt Moore (eight TDs, three interceptions) remains the stand-in starter.
-- Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry vs. Steelers CB Artie Burns. The rookie cornerback is going to have his hands full against Landry, who finished the season with 94 catches for 1,136 yards. The Steelers' pass defense has been susceptible at times this season, and Burns has been beaten for some big plays. With the Steelers focusing on stopping Jay Ajayi and the Dolphins' running game, this matchup on the outside will be a big key.
-- Steelers OL David DeCastro vs. Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh. The Steelers have to establish the running game, and this matchup of former All-Pros in the trenches will be important. The Dolphins have sunk a lot of money into their defensive front seven, including more than $100 million on Suh, but it hasn't produced results. The Dolphins enter the playoffs 30th in the NFL against the run. DeCastro will look to exploit that weakness by winning his matchup against Suh.
Steelers LB Ryan Shazier. The third-year inside linebacker missed the regular-season meeting against the Dolphins because of a knee injury. The Dolphins took advantage as running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards. With Shazier's ability to run sideline to sideline and fill gaps in the middle of the defense, the Steelers stand a better chance to keep Ajayi in check in the rematch.
-- Dolphins QB Matt Moore has eight TD passes and three interceptions in his past three starts and is averaging 234.5 yards, with six TDs, in two road starts.
-- Miami KR/WR Jarvis Landry led the team with 94 catches for 1,136 yards. Since entering the league in 2014, he has 288 catches, tied for the most by a player in his first three seasons.
-- Miami DE Cameron Wake has 10.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception in the past 11 games.
-- Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is the 10th QB in NFL history with 300 TD passes (301) and is 11-6 in the postseason.
-- Steelers WR Antonio Brown ranked second in the with 106 catches and tied for second with 12 TD catches. His 481 receptions in 2013-16 are the most of any four-year span in NFL history.
-- LB James Harrison is the Steelers' leader with 81.5 sacks and has six sacks in his past eight playoff games.
There is no justifying a pick against the Steelers in the playoffs in Pittsburgh with all three of their key offensive weapons set to start.
OUR PICK: Steelers, 32-24.
--Frank Cooney

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