One year ago, the Miami Dolphins took to the road to play a playoff game in an icy cold city against an arguably better opponent. Sound familiar? The Dolphins lost that first-round playoff game and in fact, they have not won a playoff game since December 30, 2000, when they beat the Indianapolis Colts 23-17 in overtime. Can they break the 23-year-old drought?
If you had asked me that question a month or two ago, I would have definitively said yes. But the Dolphins have fallen upon hard times having gone from an AFC East division-leading 9-3 record to a runner-up 11-6. As a result, they head to frigid Kansas City to play the defending Super Bowl champs where the weather is forecasted to hover around zero degrees.
Neither team’s offense has been particularly effective in recent weeks. Surprisingly, The Chiefs scored over 30 points in only three games this year. Miami’s offense has also sputtered putting up over 20 points only once in the final three games.
It has been the defenses that have carried both teams to the playoff march. Steve Spagnoulo’s hard-nosed Chiefs defense has been ranked in the top five for most of the year while Vic Fangio’s Dolphin D had been a top-three defense during a healthy seven-game stretch before injuries derailed it.
The game is a week nine rematch played in Frankfort, Germany where KC hung on for a 21-14 win after dominating the first half 21-0. Miami was a lot healthier then and could still only score 14 points, all in the second half. I don’t see it getting any better for the Fins. They were only 1-5 vs. teams with winning records and 0-3 on the road. Statistically, the two teams match up this way:
Dolphins vs. Chiefs odds, spread, and total
Tale of the Tape: Dolphins vs. Chiefs Team Stats
Yards per game
Points per game
Passing yards per game
Rushing yards per game
Defense - yards allowed per game
Points allowed per game
Passing yards allowed per game
Rushing yards allowed per game
Dolphins vs. Chiefs Head-to-Head Breakdown
Fins offense vs. Chiefs defense
The Chiefs offense gets the most attention, but how about some love for that KC defense? As the tale of the tape shows, it is statistically ranked in the top five in every category except rush yards allowed.
On paper, the Fins would seem to have an advantage running the ball with the second-ranked rushing attack vs. the 18th-ranked rush defense. Miami’s backs are well-balanced as both Raheem Mostert and rookie De’Von Achane have speed, power, and the threat to take it to the house on any carry. Mostert ran 12 times for 85 yards in the week nine game. Achane was injured and did not play.
Passing-wise, it is strength against strength. One vs. Six. The Chiefs held Tua Tagovailoa to under 200 yards and held speedsters Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle to a combined 11 catches and 104 yards and no touchdowns. Miami has struggled on the road with numerous false start penalties and wasted time-outs. Look for more of the same.
Advantage: Slight Edge Chiefs
Dolphins defense vs. Chiefs offense
In the earlier match-up, the Chiefs had two long drives and moved the ball well; however, in the second half, they were held to a mere 56 yards of offense. Travis Kelce was held to only three catches for a harmless 14 yards. Patrick Mahomes was held to under 200 yards, and the Chiefs ran the ball for only 93 yards.
Unfortunately for the Dolphins, this is NOT the same defense that faced the Chiefs in week nine. Since that game, they have lost leading sackers Jaelen Phillips and Bradley Chubb, starting cornerback Xavien Howard, starting linebackers Jerome Baker and Andrew Van Ginkel and safety Jevon Holland may miss the game with a knee injury. That’s six of 11 starters missing. That spells trouble.
Look for the Chiefs to utilize running back Isiah Pacheco in the passing game via wheel routes and checkdowns in the flat. Travis Kelce should certainly get more than the four targets he got in the last match-up. Without its key pass rushers, Mahomes should have time to pick apart the injury-riddled Miami defense.
Dolphins’ kick Jason Sanders’ recent hot streak saves this match-up from being a run-away. Sanders has made 17 of 19 (89%) field goals since the bye week and has made his last 12. Overall, he is 24-28 (86%) which is a season high 20th best in the league.
KC kicker Harrison Butker is Mr. Reliable is 33-35 (94%) which is fourth best in the league. Weather could be a factor for both kickers. Chiefs’ punter Tommy Townsend is an All-Pro although having a bit of an off year finished 17th in both gross and net average. Fins’ punter Jake Bailey ranked 29th and 23rd.
Miami's only chance is to win the turnover battle. The Chiefs are a lousy -11 on the season, so there is that possibility. However, for Miami, there are simply too many injuries on defense. Throw in the cold weather and the raucous Arrowhead Stadium fans, and you should have a comfortable win for the Chiefs. Last week on my BetSided preview, I gave you the Bills winning and covering. I see the same result here.
The Pick: 2-way parlay. CHIEFS -2.5 and UNDER 44 (+200). Score: KC 27 Mia 10
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.