NFL Game of the Week: Dolphins vs. 49ers
Week 13 of the NFL season is upon us and it might be the craziest week yet.
All across the league, there are matchups with playoff implications, rivalries and revenge games, but one game hits on two of these three storylines.
In what’s possibly the best game of the 4 p.m. ET window since the Bills’ rematch against the Chiefs in Week 6, the Miami Dolphins will travel to the west coast to face the San Francisco 49ers.
Sitting at 8-3 and leading the stacked AFC East, the Dolphins have been one of the league’s most pleasant surprises so far this season.
Their potent offense has been borderline unstoppable when healthy.
Former top-five pick Tua Tagovailoa has firmly put himself in the MVP conversation, touting an undefeated record in games he starts and finishes while throwing for 2,564 yards and 19 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
Tagovailoa isn’t alone however, as he’s surrounded by arguably the best receiving duo in the league.
Tyreek Hill is on pace to top Cooper Kupp’s historic season from last year, and Jaylen Waddle has fully blossomed into a star.
This talented group will be facing their biggest challenge this week however, as the 49ers have been shutting down opponents for pretty much the entire season.
Aside from a two-week span where they were riddled by injuries and allowed 28 and 44 points to the Falcons and Chiefs respectively, they have held all other opponents to under 20 points this season.
In the last four weeks, the group, led by defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, has allowed a total of just 40 points and are coming off a victory over the New Orleans Saints in which they posted a shutout.
While the Niners’ identity has been their dominant defense, their offense has been no slouch either.
In an offseason filled with uncertainty regarding where he might play that ended with him resorting to a backup role, Jimmy Garoppolo was thrust back into the starting job in Week 2 when Trey Lance went down with a season-ending injury and he has been playing maybe the best football of his career since.
Garoppolo has a 16-4 touchdown to interception ratio with 2,381 yards passing, and he recently completed four touchdown passes against the Cardinals just two weeks ago.
The Dolphins’ defense has had its fair share of struggles this season, so San Francisco could benefit from just how well-rounded its team has been.
However, if anyone in the league can figure out this 49ers defense, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel might have the best shot.
This will be a revenge game of sorts for McDaniel, who served as the offensive coordinator under Kyle Shanahan with the Niners last season.
His history with Shanahan goes way farther back than just last season however, as they had been working together on the offensive side of the ball for a decade with Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta and eventually San Francisco.
This matchup has generated a lot of excitement this week, not only because of the connections between the two rosters and coaching staff, but also because many believe that this may be an early preview of the Super Bowl.
Jakob Schnur is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Second-Year / Broadcast Journalism