Friday, December 1, 2023

Dolphins at Eagles: Top stats to know in potential Super Bowl preview with fireworks expected on Sunday night

There will be shortage of storylines and stats when it comes to talking Dolphins-Eagles on “Sunday Night Football.” Super Bowl preview, game of the year, first NFL matchup between Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, track meet between the hottest two wideouts in the league. This game has all the potential so hop on the hype train and check out the stats you need to know for this affair:

Miami’s lightning-strike offense on historic pace

The Dolphins have the second-most total yards (2,992) by any team through six games in NFL history, behind the 2000 “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams (3,056). 

They have the fastest offense in the league. Need proof? They have the five fastest plays by ball-carriers this season. Miami also has 10 TD drives or three plays or fewer this year, already more than any team had all of last season. 

Both teams can beat you on ground or through air

Miami had stretches of excellence last year, but nothing quite like this, and unlike last season, they looked poised to keep it going thanks to incredible balance on the ground and through the air. 

  • The Dolphins are the first team to lead the league in both passing and rushing yards per game through Week 6 since the 1964 Bills. The last team to do this for a full season was the 1941 Bears.
  • They are the first team since the 1958 Colts with 15 touchdown passes and 15 touchdown runs in any six-game span. 

The Eagles know a thing or two about balance, too. Both teams are currently on pace to be the fifth and sixth teams since 1970 to average at least 240 pass yards and 150 rush yards per game in a season. The 1984 49ers, 1986 Bengals, 1998 49ers and 2013 Eagles also did it. 

Roll Tide: Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jalen Hurts for the first time in the NFL

We’ve seen Tagovailoa replace Hurts at halftime and lead Alabama to a national championship. We also witnessed Hurts replace Tagovailoa in the following SEC Championship Game to lead the Tide to another victory over Georgia. Now the journey intersects for the first time in the NFL.

Both have been MVP contenders in the last two years by doing it in different ways..

Tagovailoa has the quickest average time to throw in the NFL, but still leads the league in yards per pass attempt thanks to McDaniel’s scheme, fast playmakers and Tua’s precision accuracy. 

Hurts has a case for the best dual-threat QB in the league, but is looking to bounce back from a three-interception performance in last week’s loss to the Jets. He has forced a few throws and already has more interceptions this year (seven) than all of last year (six). He can ill-afford to give Miami’s offensive more opportunities and better field position on Sunday night. 

Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown can lead track meet

I wrote earlier this week about how Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown can steal the spotlight after both were acquired in blockbuster deals last offseason. They rank one-two in receiving yards this year and have more history on the line Sunday night. 

  • Hill has the second-most receiving yards (814) through six games in NFL history behind Don Hutson (819) for the 1942 Packers. With 186 yards on Sunday, Hill would match Charley Hennigan (1961 Oilers) as the fastest player to 1,000 receiving yards in a season (seven games). Hill is on pace for 2,306 receiving yards this year!
  • A.J. Brown has four straight games of 125 receiving yards, one shy of matching Calvin Johnson (2012) for the longest streak since 1970. 

Dolphins and Eagles at forefront of motion and QB sneak movements

Expect plenty of head shaking from defensive coaches. These teams are doing things on offense that nobody can stop, and everyone is trying to replicate. 

Dolphins “cheat motion”: Mike McDaniel and Miami are leaders of the motion movement in the NFL. The league uses motion on nearly 50% of plays and nobody uses it more than the Dolphins, who are at 77%. It’s not just window dressing. They average 8.5 yards per play with motion and 6.5 without it. 

McDaniel’s newest wrinkle, “cheat motion” gets speedsters like Tyreek Hill moving toward the line of scrimmage as the ball is being snapped, essentially giving the fastest player in the NFL a head start. He leads the NFL in scrimmage yards as the player in motion (222) this season, nearly matching his total on these plays from all of last year (267).

Eagles “Brotherly Shove”: The Eagles don’t have “cheat motion,” but they do have a cheat code of their own. The Eagles have been successful on the “Tush Push” 13 of 16 times (81%) this season, compared with 28 of 39 (72%) for the rest of the NFL. They are leading a QB sneak mania! There have been 115 QB sneaks this season, up from 80 through Week 6 last season, and 31 from back in 2017.

Eagles health in the trenches

We can talk blazing speed and innovative offense all day, but this one (like many) may be decided in the trenches. The Eagles have a few injuries up front that can swing this game:

Eagles’ rookie DT Jalen Carter averages 4.6 pressures per game this year, second among interior linemen behind Aaron Donald (5.0). He’s a game-wrecker who is looking to return from a one-game absence (ankle).

Eagles’ RT Lane Johnson could play after hurting his ankle in Week 6. If history is any indication they will need him. The Eagles are 13-23 without him since he entered the league. 

He and Jason Kelce are looking to continue their ironman streak without allowing a sack. It’s been over two years since either Johnson or Kelce was credited with a sack allowed by Pro Football Focus. Johnson has gone 1,249 straight pass block snaps without allowing a sack, the third-longest active streak in the NFL. The second-longest streak belongs to Jason Kelce (1,285), who trails only Corey Linsley (1,572). 

Eagles gauntlet coming up

If there’s such a thing as a slow 5-1 start, the Eagles have it. They’ve outscored teams by 31 points in six games and are coming off a loss to the Jets. They will certainly be put to the test in the next two months. Six of their next seven opponents rank top-six in the NFL in Super Bowl odds (Dolphins, Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, Cowboys twice). If the Eagles aren’t the same team as last year after losing both coordinators and some talent on both sides of the ball, they will be exposed coming up. 

— Contributions from CBS Sports Research

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