Of course, we’re all fully aware of what transpired the last time Pittsburgh and Miami met up. But this time around, the Steelers have added firepower with the return of injured players, while the Phins are quite beat up, Also, the venue has changed from humid Miami to a frigid and windy Pittsburgh. But don't be fooled—Miami will still be ready to go full-tilt. Here are the Dolphins that you most likely will need to be aware of on Sunday:
Adam Gase gets my vote for Coach of the Year. Peyton Manning absolutely swore by him in Denver and he's done an amazing job in Miami. The week of the Steeler game in October, Gase gathered his team for a tirade of epic proportions and fired two offensive linemen who held starting posts in 2016. Message received. The Dolphins walloped Pittsburgh and went 9-2 to finish the season at 10-6. The 38-year-old head coach can lead and game-plan very well. Offenses coached by him have put up 29, 30 and 31 points respectively in the last three games against the Steelers.
Some Other Dolphins Coaches to know: OC Clyde Christenson, DC Vance Joseph
QB-No. 8 Matt Moore
Moore is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the National Football League and has helped lead the Dolphins into the playoffs. With 100% certainty that Moore is going to start on Sunday, Miami can focus on the game at hand. Tannehill definitely came alive in the Steeler win, but Moore's QB rating (105.6) was better than Tannehill's (93.5) this season. Tannehill is more of a running threat, but the 32-year-old Moore airs it out well. With a completion rate of 63.2%, Moore has connected for eight scores to only three picks and has thrown for 721 yards since Tannehill's knee injury.
Some Other Dolphins Quarterbacks to know:
No. 10 T.J. Yates, No. 17 Ryan Tannehill
RB-No. 23 Jay Ajayi
Here's how dangerous Ajayi is — the 204 yards that the Steelers gave up to the second-year man from Boise State was merely his third-best rushing performance of the year. He put 214 on the Bills the following week and 206 on them on Christmas Eve. But he's not the most consistent back, with only one other game in which he eclipsed 100 yards. In the other twelve games, Ajayi averaged only 44.75 rushing yards. But he had that big one against Pittsburgh and has run for 1,272 yards and eight scores on the season. Ajayi also leads the league in making defenders miss tackles (58 times) and is second with 901 yards gained after contact. Thus, Ajayi becomes the one to neutralize and tackle to win the game.
Some Other Dolphins Running Backs to know: No. 26 Damien Williams, No. 32 Kenyan Drake
WR-No. 14 Jarvis Landry
Landry is the workhorse of the Dolphins. The Miami slot-guy lives across the middle and is never afraid to get his hands dirty. The 5'11" receiver is not necessarily a deep threat, but Jarvis finished tied for seventh in the NFL with 94 receptions and tenth in yardage with 1,136. Landry scored four touchdowns and averaged 12.2 yards per catch. Against the Steelers in October, Landry was busy with seven catches for 91 yards. He’ll be busy again on Sunday.
Some Other Dolphins Recievers to know: No. 10 Kenny Stills, No. 11 DeVante Parker, No. 19 Jakeem Grant, No. 87 Rashawn Scott, No. 88 Leonte Carroo
TE-No. 80 Dion Sims
Not primarily a huge pass-catching threat, Sims has been a valuable goal-line option for Miami with four touchdowns in 2016. On the year, Sims has 26 grabs for 256 yards. He's not Gronk, Eifert or Kelce, but he can move the chains.
Some Other Dolphins Tight Ends to know: No. 48 MarQueis Gray, No. 83 Thomas Duarte, No. 85 Dominique Jones
LT-No. 76 Branden Albert
At 6'6", Albert is a long-armed load at the Left Tackle position. When the Dolphins started out 1-4, they had given up 17 sacks in five games. In the final eleven contests, the offensive line has become more wall-like and only given up 13. The last four games, only a mere two. With a depleted defensive line on the opposite side of the ball, the Dolphins could give Matt Moore a whole lot of time.
Some Other Dolphins Offensive Linemen to know: No. 60 C Kraig Urbik, No. 64 C/G Jake Brendel, No. 65 C Anthony Steen, No. 67 LG Laremy Tunsil, No. 70 RT Ja'Waun James, No. 74 RG Jermon Bushrod, No. 79 RT Sam Young
DE-No. 91 Cameron Wake
Wake is having another very impressive season. At 34, he’s dominant and forceful coming off of the edge. His 11 1/2 sacks rank him No. 4 in the entire NFL, and he boasts 44 QB hurries for the year. Wake had a great game against Chris Hubbard in Week 6, but this time around he faces a much tougher task in the form of Marcus Gilbert. Wake is a 5-time Pro Bowler.
Some Other Dolphins Defensive Ends to know: No. 50 Andre Branch, No. 75 Nicholas Williams, No. 78 Terrence Fede, No. 94 Mario Williams, No. 98 Jason Jones
DT-No. 93 Ndamuong Suh
Suh is the kind of impact player that doesn't have to blitz to get pressure. This year, Suh has 2.5 sacks and 28 tackles, plus the same nasty streak as always. When I say nasty, I mean dirty. The difference between Suh and a guy like Vontaze Burfict is that Suh is a lot more cerebral and sneakier than Burfict. The 29-year-old will command double-teams and lots of attention. If the Steelers aren't careful, Suh will try to rip off the head of Le'Veon Bell or leg-whip Ben again. The Steelers need to be on red alert when facing the Phins’ other 5-time Pro Bowler up front.
Some Other Dolphins Defensive Tackles to know: No. 90 Earl Mitchell, No. 97 Jordan Phillips
LB-No. 46 Kiko Alonso
Now, I just compared Suh to Burfict. Alonso has also been compared to the infamous LB from Cincy, but in a completely different manner. He plays the run and the pass well and can be found anywhere and everywhere. The Oregon product and veteran of three teams is like a Swiss Army knife. With 115 total tackles, Alonso leads the team and ranks 18th overall. He will most likely shadow Le’Veon Bell at many a juncture.
Some Other Dolphins Linebackers to know: No. 42 Spencer Paysinger, No. 45 Mike Hull, No. 46 Neville Hewitt, No. 53 Jelani Jenkins, No. 56 Donald Butler, No. 57 Trevor Reilly
CB-No, 25 Xavien Howard
Wow, the playoffs are the absolute worst time for a team to realize how thin they are in the secondary. In the first matchup, Miami lost Reshad Jones, their fantastic safety, for the year with an injury. CB Tony Lippett and S Bacarri Rambo have been banged up, but still practiced with full and limited participation respectively on Thursday. Both are expected to play. However, CB Byron Mitchell was unable to participate in this week’s practices due to a bad ankle and his absence could be debilitating. Howard, the rookie from Baylor, has six pass defenses on the year and no interceptions. Miami’s depleted secondary might have a hard time keeping up with AB and company.
Some Other Dolphins Defensive Backs to know: No. 21 Jordan Lucas, No. 28 Bobby McCain, No. 30 Bacarri Rambo, No. 31 Michael Thomas, No. 35 Walt Aikens, No. 36 Tony Lippett, No. 37 AJ Hendry, No. 40 Lafayette Pitts, No. 41 Byrom Maxwell
K-No. 3 Andrew Franks
Franks, age 24, is 16 of 21 for the year in field goal tries for a percentage of 74.2. Against Pittsburgh in October, the Rensselaer Tech alum was 3 of 5, with his longest being 30 yards. But Franks hit a 55-yarder in a snowy and windy Buffalo on Christmas Eve. So Heinz Field won't necessarily be a problem for the Phins kicker.
Some Other Dolphins Recievers to know: No. 4 P/H Matt Darr, No. 14 PR Jarvis Landry, No. 19 KR/PR Jakeem Grant, No. 32 KR Kenyan Drake, No. 92 LS John Denney
C-No. 51 Mike Pouncey
The Dolphins have some big names on their injury list that won't be available this time around. One of the biggest names on that list is Mike Pouncey, the twin of the Steelers’ Maurkice. His absence will be paramount and somewhat narrows the impact of the absences on the Steelers’ defensive line.
Some Other Dolphins Injured personnel to know: No. 20 S Reshad Jones, No. 24 S Isa Abdul-Quddus, No. 33 CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, No. 55 LB Koa Misi, No. 84 TE Jordan Cameron