The 4-3 Miami Dolphins are coming off a 21-32 loss to the Detroit Lions in a game where the Dolphins never led and the Lions had nearly doubled the Phins’ score by the fourth quarter. It’s the team’s third loss in four games, disappointing fans excited and surprised by their 3-0 start.
The Dolphins are now playing without their franchise quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, who left the game against the Chicago Bears in Week 6 due to a shoulder injury. Head coach Adam Gase was snippy with the media about it, saying vaguely that Tannehill, “just can’t throw.” Backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, a free agent offseason pick up from the Broncos, has taken over as starter but couldn’t get the win against the Lions. He’ll likely get a chance to play in Week 8 against the Texans.
The Houston Texans are also 4-3 after handing the Jacksonville Jaguars their fourth loss in five games by a score of 20-7. Quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t have a flashy game, or even a good one, connecting on only 50% of his passes (12/24) and throwing for only 139 yards and a touchdown.
Actually, the Texans defense beat the Jags by sacking their quarterbacks no less than four times during the game and holding starter Blake Bortles to 6/12 and 61 yards. Eventually he’d be benched for his backup, Cody Kessler, who the Texans picked of once and held to 156 passing yards and a single touchdown. They’ll be looking to shut down the Dolphins’ struggling offense in the same way.
If the Dolphins win this matchup, they’ll move to 5-3 and continue to put pressure on the only team ahead of them in the AFC East, the 5-2 New England Patriots. But if the Texans come out on top, they’ll be 5-3 and stay atop the AFC South by at least a game over the 3-4 Tennessee Titans.
Who’s favored to win this Week 8 Dolphins-Texans matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Dolphins and the Texans and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Dolphins offense struggling
The Dolphins’ 27th offense is only averaging 329.1 total yards per game with a rushing attack ranked 18th and a passing attack that’s only 25th best in the league. Not helping offensive matters are the injuries - besides Tannehill’s bum shoulder, wide receiver DeVante Parker (quad) is unlikely for Week 8, as is tight end A.J. Derby (foot).
Despite losing the Lions game, Osweiler put up respectable numbers, throwing for 22/31 and 239 yards with 2 touchdowns and zero picks, relying on slot receiver Danny Amendola (6 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown) and rookie tight end Mike Gesicki (3 catches for 44 yards) as targets.
The Dolphins running game has been led by backs Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore. The rushing squad has gained a total of 106.9 yards per game. Against the Lions, Drake carried the ball 6 times for 72 yards and a touchdown, while Gore ran the ball 10 times but for only 29 total yards, averaging 2.9 yards per carry. They’ll face a Texans defense ranked 8th against the run who allow opponents only 92.1 rushing yards per game.
The 2018 Texans offense middle of the road
Out of 32 NFL offenses, the Texans are ranked 16th after averaging 372.1 total yards per game. Quarterback Watson is ranked 10th among NFL quarterbacks for total yards with 1,937, but only tied for 18th in touchdowns (10) and tied 7th for interceptions (7). Watson would most probably have better numbers if he wasn’t the most sacked quarterback in the NFL with 26.
All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins and receiver Will Fuller andare Watson’s main targets - against the Jags Fuller caught 6 for 68 yards while Hopkins caught 3 for 50 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Ryan Griffin sat out the Week 7 game due to an ‘illness’ but will most likely play against the Dolphins in Week 8.
Running back Lamar Miller is ranked 18th among backs for averaging 61.8 yards per game. He’ll face a Dolphins’ defense that allows opponents to rush for 136.7 yards per game - only three teams are worse against the run.
Dolphins Defense ranks 27th in the league, Texans D ranks 9th
The Dolphins defense allows opponents to score an average of 25.3 points per game, 18th most in the league. They’ve only sacked opponents 11 times (only four teams have less) and have intercepted opponents 11 times, which puts them tied with the Bears and the Browns for first in that category.
Injuries have not helped the Dolphins defense - end Charles Harris (calf) and Jonathan Woodward (concussion) were both out for Week 7 and will most probably be questionable right up until Thursday night’s matchup with the Texans.
The Texans defense is normally solid, but they’re suffering from the injury bug, as well. Linebacker Brian Peters didn’t play in Week 7 (ankle), nor did cornerback Shareece Wright (shoulder). Cornerback Aaron Colvin will be out through at least Week 10 (ankle) and cornerback Kayvon Webster was place on injured reserve in Week 6 (quad).
Houston’s defense is ranked 13th against the pass and 8th against the run, so they’ll give the Dolphins’ offense a lot of trouble, especially given they’re being led by their backup. The Texans have only intercepted 6 passes (tied for 14th) but have sacked opposing quarterbacks 19 times (tied of 8th). Considering the Dolphins have allowed their quarterbacks to be sacked a total of 15 times this season (and four just last week), the Texans should be putting a lot of pressure on backup Osweiler.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Miami’s punter, Matt Haack, an undrafted free agent last season, has punted 36 times for a net average of 39.3 yards per punt, tied for 17th in the NFL.
Houston’s punter, Trevor Daniel, an undrafted free agent this offseason, has punted 32 times for a net average of 39.3 yards per punt, tied 17th in the NFL.
Miami’s rookie placekicker, Jason Sanders, drafted in the seventh-round, is 6-for-7, his longest was a 50-yarder. He he’s missed one extra point attempt (17/18).
Houston’s placekicker, Ka’imi Fairbairn, in his third season with the Texans, has gone 17-for-20, his longest was a 54-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (14/14).
Miami’s punt returner, wide receiver Jakeem Grant, is ranked 3rd in the league in return average. He’s returned 9 punts for 162 yards and a touchdown, averaging 18.0 yards per return, his longest for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Houston’s punt returner, running back Tyler Ervin, is ranked 25th in the league. He’s returned 18 punts for 146 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 8.1 yards per return, his longest for 27 yards.
Dolphins–Texans prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Texans favored over the Dolphins by 7 with an over/under of 45.5.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the under and has it Texans 27, Dolphins 14
John Breech takes the under and predicts it Texans 23, Dolphins 13