On Saturday, the Miami Dolphins visit the frozen tundra of Arrowhead Stadium. They’ve generally not played good football when temperatures fail to reach forty degrees. With single-digit temperatures at kick-off, will Miami freeze under the cold?
It’s well documented the Miami Dolphins have lost their last ten games with temperatures below forty degrees. That’s very telling, but it’s a moot point if they are 1-10 after Saturday’s AFC Wild Card game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The cold will be a factor for both teams, and yes, the Chiefs have the advantage. However, more concerning for Dolphins fans might be the wrath of injuries. Those expected not to suit up Saturday night include Linebackers Bradley Chubb, Andrew Van Ginkel, Jaelen Phillips, Jerome Baker, Cameron Goode, and Cornerback Xavier Howard.
On Tuesday, the Dolphins signed former Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Justin Houston. A few weeks ago, they signed another former Chiefs defender, Melvin Ingram. Both are long in the tooth and will be forced to play most of the game. Houston is already listed as a starter on the Dolphin’s depth chart.
Miami could have secured a home playoff game on Sunday, but their second-half meltdown handed the Buffalo Bills their fourth consecutive AFC East title. It was a perplexing loss for Miami, who had so much to prove they could be that team, but it’s hard to climb over expectations, especially after their hot start.
At one point, they were the darlings of the NFL, with their high-powered offense dominating the NFL. Tua Tagovailoa was lighting the NFL on fire, but down the stretch, he struggled. He’s always had a below-average arm, but his decision-making has created doubt about his abilities to be a playoff-winning quarterback.
Missing out on the AFC East was disappointing. Still, losing so many defenders, it’s hard to imagine; even with Raheem Mostert back from injury and De’Von Achane available along with Jaylen Waddle, the offense can score enough points against the Chief’s highly-rated defense.
The oddsmakers, primarily because of the weather, have the Chiefs as a 3.5-point favorite. With the injury news, the final spread might be higher closer to kick-off.
The Chiefs are virtually healthy heading into this game. Left Tackle Donovan Smith should play Saturday Night. Wanya Morris is still in the concussion protocol, and Justyn Ross, though making progress on his strained hamstring, were the only two players that didn’t practice Tuesday.
Patrick Mahomes said earlier today that he likes playing in cold conditions and appreciates doing so at Arrowhead. Being at home in the first round of the playoffs certainly gives Kansas City the edge. However, with the offense still a work in progress, getting off to a hot start against Miami would be huge for Mahomes.
Even though he stated today the playoffs are a clean slate, he has pressure to prove he can deliver the goods in less-than-ideal situations. He’s struggled at times for the first time in his career, but he’s still the best quarterback in the NFL.
The Chiefs defeated the Dolphins once this season, 21-14, in Germany, so they are familiar with their playoff opponent. Now, I admit beating a non-divisional team twice in the same season is very difficult.
However, based on the weather and the Dolphin’s defensive injuries, it’s reasonable to assume this will be a game the Chiefs should win. Yet, the NFL is unpredictable, and if Kansas City comes out flat and gives momentum to Miami, like the Dolphins did to the Bills, it could be a long night in Kansas City.
Let’s hope that’s not the case.