Both the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins enter this one at 5-7, but their playoff odds are significantly different. The Giants are tied for first in the NFC East, while the Dolphins are five games back of the New England Patriots in the AFC East and are a long shot to make the postseason. However, there is still plenty on the line for each team as the Giants pay the Dolphins a visit in Miami.
Former LSU teammates Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. square off for the first time since coming into the league last season and plan to put on a show. They've each caught 78 passes this year and could find themselves in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. For now, Monday night's game looms large in this cross-conference game.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Giants and the Dolphins.
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1. Commit to stop the run first
In his first game as offensive coordinator for the Dolphins, Zac Taylor wasted no time establishing his run-first offense. The Dolphins ran the ball 26 times and only attempted 19 passes. Lead back Lamar Miller racked up 113 yards rushing on just 20 carries. The Giants can expect much of the same from Taylor and the Dolphins offense in Week 14, so they need to strategize to defend against Miller and the run game. One option is to use rookie safety Landon Collins up in the box more often to cut off the cutback lane and make plays in the run game. Collins is coming off of arguably his best game as a pro in Week 13, and he will need to be a big factor again in stopping Miller.
2. Get Shane Vereen involved in the passing game again
The Giants have gone away from Vereen in recent weeks, and their passing game has suffered. Vereen has just six receptions for 28 yards over the past two weeks. He is not seeing the field very often in the Giants' four-man running back rotation, but that has to change. The Giants haven't found anyone to step up in the passing game with any kind of consistency outside of Odell Beckham Jr., and Vereen when he actually gets a chance to do so. Instead of relying on guys like Rueben Randle to make plays on the outside, Vereen needs to become the second option in the passing game after Beckham.
3. Make Tannehill beat you deep
Since first entering the NFL, Tannehill has struggled with his deep pass accuracy, and the 2015 season has been no different. Despite attempting 53 passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air, Tannehill has only completed 18 of them. The Giants have struggled to defend deep passing plays over the top, in large part due to their struggling safeties, but that won't be the case in Week 14. This will allow the Giants to use their safeties as freelance defenders who can be counted on to make plays against the run and in the passing game over the middle.
1. Keep Odell Beckham Jr. in check with safety help
Odell Beckham has been on a ridiculous tear of late, averaging 126 yards per game over his past five contests. He's also caught six touchdowns in that span and has looked like he did as a breakout rookie. With his ability to break the big play on a slant and short crossing route, the Dolphins have to make sure they wrap him up and not let him break tackles. Additionally, safety help over the top on deep routes is a must and can help greatly.
2. Continue to balance the offense
Last week, the Dolphins were extremely balanced on offense, one of the few times that has happened this season. Lamar Miller carried it 20 times for 113 yards and helped the Dolphins knock off the Baltimore Ravens. Ryan Tannehill struggled mightily, completing 9-of-19 passes for 86 yards, giving the coaching staff another reason to continue running the ball. They'll need to control the clock and time of possession by running the ball and giving Miller 20-plus carries again.
3. Get Jarvis Landry involved early
After catching 13 passes for 165 yards two weeks ago, Jarvis Landry was limited to just two catches and five yards against the Ravens on Sunday. He expressed his frustration on the sideline in a reported outburst, something that can quickly get a wideout off track. Getting him involved and in the flow of the game early can help the aerial attack get back on track against the Giants' putrid pass defense.