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21-9 Miami at the end of three quarters…and it wasn’t that close. We live in a world where Miami is the more physically tough, better team than Arizona. And then it happened…at the end of the third quarter – Ryan Tannehill got hit low and there was a strong feeling he tore his ACL and would be done (we now find out it’s a bad sprain and he’ll miss at least week, but probably 2-3 weeks). Matt Moore came in relief and the momentum shifted to Arizona. With three minutes left in the game, Arizona had come roaring back to tie the game 23-23. You had to love Arizona’s chances at this point.
You especially had to love the Cardinals’ chances when they held Miami right after tying the game. Arizona got the ball back with 2+ minutes to operate. The Cards did nothing and were forced to punt. Jarvis Landry returned the punt to midfield with 1:30 left, and then the unthinkable happened – Matt Moore led a game-winning drive. Took the Dolphins right down to the goal line setting up an easy field goal…and the win.
Arizona’s season of disappointment crashes to an end…they’ll just be playing out the string. Miami took a major step forward in the playoff race with this win but has a dark cloud hanging over because of the loss of Ryan Tannehill. As bad, they have lost starting center Mike Pouncey. You’d think Miami is toast with all these injuries, but they have the Jets this week…so a possible win despite all the injuries. If Miami can win this week, and Denver loses to the Patriots, then Miami leaps into the final wild card spot going to Buffalo Week 16. What’s crazy about this scenario (DEN loses this week and MIA wins) is that Buffalo then springs back to playoff life again.
If all the favored teams win this week the final wild card spot would look like this (after Week 15):
9-5 Miami (Week 16 at Buffalo)
8-6 Denver (Week 16 at KC)
8-6 Baltimore (Week 16 at Pitt)
7-7 Buffalo (Week 16 hosting Miami)
If the home teams/likely favored teams win their Week 16 games, then going into Week 17…
What if Miami loses to the Jets this week? Then this whole group could be 8-7 heading into Week 17. Looking at the schedule, it’s possible all five of these teams (or Houston instead of Tennessee) are 9-7 to end the season and I have no idea who would win that tie-breaker. I’ll worry about it later. Miami is in the driver’s seat…except Matt Moore is driving the car. AND the Buffalo Bills are not totally dead yet but are on major life support. Those with the Buffalo DST – you want the Bills alive for their great schedule stretch to finish 2016.
— Matt Moore (3-5 for 47 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) last played a meaningful game in 2011 when he was a quasi-starter for a stretch. Moore’s career has gone as follows…
Undrafted rookie who saw some time in 2007 for Carolina, and wasn’t good – 56.8% Comp. Pct. and 3 TD/5 INT.
After not playing in 2008, Moore made his career in 2009…filling in for Carolina late in the season he had a 4-1 record over five games to end 2009. He threw for 8 TD/0 INT in that stretch. He was the ‘it’ QB for Carolina going into 2010. The hopeful franchise QB. I remember scouting his 2009 season and thinking he was the luckiest QB in the NFL. He threw no picks in his five game hot streak but should have had like 10 of them.
On cue, he went 1-5 as a starter to begin the following season (2010). Completing 55.2% of his passes with 5 TD/10 INT.
In 2011, he wound up with Miami and took over as a starter in October. He posted a 7-7 record with 16 TD/9 INT. Miami thought so much of Moore after 2011 that they drafted Ryan Tannehill, and Moore has been a ghost ever since.
Now, Moore tries to win at least one game the next two weeks – his Florida-based team heads to cold New York to face the Jets and Bills in back-to-back weeks. I’d bet against him. He’s an experienced version of Matt Barkley. He has to get the win versus the Jets this week because the Bills will probably take his head off Week 16.
Moore throws simple passes, so plenty of quick slants to Landry and Parker. They’ll probably see stat lines like 4-6 catches for 50 yards and no TDs the next couple of weeks with Moore. Parker is probably going to get the better targets because of his size, but he’s still not 100% healthy.
Teams will stack the run, and I suspect Miami will still run into the stack to take the ball out of Moore’s hands as much as possible. Take the ‘under’ of 38.0 points this week with the Dolphins-Jets in the cold…the vaunted Moore-Petty matchup. Jay Ajayi (20-48-0, 1-15-0/3 targets) will have another 20+ touch day for not much yardage. I’ve been pro-Ajayi to the finish, but with Tannehill-Pouncey gone – I tap out. No more Ajayi for me.
— Here’s how stupid Arizona is…
Seven minutes into the game, Arizona runs an end-around with the speedy J.J. Nelson (1-56-1, 1-8-1/2 targets). Nelson turns the corner and outruns everybody for a 56-yard TD. He never runs the ball again the rest of the game. Over the next 53 minutes of play, Nelson sees only two targets and one catch…a TD catch to tie the game with 3 minutes left. In other news, DUI-laden, drops-laden Michael Floyd (2-18-0/3 targets) led all Cardinals WRs in snaps with 69. Nelson had 22.
How much would you like to bet Arizona re-signs Floyd? Bruce Arians needs to be needed and needs players who are bought and paid to be needy for him.
— Anyone who uses the Arizona DST this week is out of their minds. The Cardinals defense is awful, and just lost Deone Bucannon and Tyvon Branch for the rest of the season. The Cardinals have allowed 23 or more points to five of their last 6 opponents. 26 or more points in four of their last 6. 30+ in three of those 6 games. This team is done. This DST is done against the Saints and Seahawks the next two weeks.
— Thanks, Isa Abdul-Quddus (1 tackle). We recognized your recent trend of rising tackle counts and gave you a projection boost for Week 14…and you respond with one tackle. He played every snap in this game on defense. He made a tackle on the second play of the game and got zip the rest of the way.