After two straight wins to open his tenure as interim head coach, Dan Campbell and the Miami Dolphins (3-5) have lost their last two games -- both winin the division. They will look to stop the bleeding in Week 10 against a Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) team that might have found their offensive groove in Week 9.
The game has major implications for both teams. The Dolphins can't afford to drop to six losses in an AFC that has several competitive teams vying for two wild-card spots. With a win in Week 10 and a New York Giants loss to the undefeated New England Patriots, the Eagles can take sole possesion of first place in the NFC East.
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Here are three keys to the game for both the Dolphins and Eagles.
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1. Run the ball 25-plus times
The Dolphins rushing attack hasn't been what it was expected to be this season, but it's not for a lack of effectiveness --- it's because of a lack of attempts. The Dolphins are 31st in the league in rushing attempts per game, yet they're second in yards per carry (4.9). Lamar Miller is averaging a career-best 5.3 yards per attempt and certainly deserves to get the ball more often than he has. To open up the passing game, the Dolphins will need to run the ball with Miller and rookie Jay Ajayi at least 25 times combined against the Eagles.
2. Get Jordan Cameron more involved
Earlier in the week, Cameron said that he wants the ball more, but he won't go to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to demand a larger role. He hasn't had a huge impact on offense in his first season with the Dolphins, but his previous seasons in Cleveland show he can be a difference maker at tight end. The Eagles have two outstanding safeties in Walter Thurmond and Malcolm Jenkins, but Miami needs Cameron to have success against the two in the middle of the field.
3. Contain Jordan Matthews out of the slot
Matthews has struggled with drops this season, but he had a great game against the Cowboys on Sunday, catching nine passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. Brent Grimes primarily plays as a boundary cornerback but Matthews is such a dynamic receiver that he may need to move inside and cover him in the slot. At the very least, it's worth testing early in the game to see how the matchup goes, seeing as Matthews is Philadelphia's best playmaker at wide receiver.
1. Lean on the running game
As first noted by CSN Philly's Rueben Frank, the Eagles are the second-best rushing team in the NFL since Week 3. The Dolphins have seen their run defense collpase in 2015. In Week 9, the Dolphins allowed the Bills to rush for 266 yards and three touchdowns on just 36 carries. In the past three games, Murray has 260 rushing yards on 57 carries for a 4.56 yards per carry overall. Backup running back Ryan Mathews has average 6.1 yards per carry on the season. The Eagles need to use the running game to open up things for quarterback Sam Bradford, control the tempo of the game and ultimately get the win.
2. Scheme to take Lamar Miller out of the game
Philadelphia's run defense has been stingy at times this season, but in Week 9 they allowed Cowboys running back Darren McFadden to rack up 117 yards on the ground. In Miami's three wins this season, Miller has rushed for 341 total yards. It's no coincidence that those three games were Miller's three highest carry totals on the season. The Eagles need to use run blitzes and bring the safeties down into the box -- whatever they can to make sure Miller is not a factor in this game.
3. Keep Jordan Matthews involved
After a breakout rookie season, it has been a disappointing follow up season for Matthews. Entering Week 9, he had dropped a team-high seven passes and he had not topped 80 yards receiving since Week 1. In Week 9, however, he broke out with 133 yards receiving and a touchdown on nine receptions. Matthews is riding an emotional high after catching the game-winning 41-yard touchdown pass, and the Eagles would be wise to feed him early and often in Week 10 so they can keep his confidence sky high.