The Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins do not face each other on a regular basis. The last time the two teams battled was a low-scoring win by the Dolphins at the Metrodome. This time it will be the final regular season road game for the Vikings.
2013 Record: 8-8 (tied for second in the AFC East)
2013 Offensive Statistics: 19.8 points per game, 312.9 total offensive yards per game, 90.0 rushing yards per game, 222.9 passing yards per game, 26 turnovers
2013 Defensive Statistics: 20.9 points allowed per game, 359.4 total offensive yards allowed per game, 124.9 rushing yards allowed per game, 234.5 passing yards allowed per game, 23 turnovers forced, 58 sacks
Head Coach: Joe Philbin (third season in Miami)
Key Returning Offensive Players: TE Charles Clay, G Nate Garner, WR Brian Hartline, WR Rishard Matthews, RB Lamar Miller, QB Matt Moore, C Mike Pouncey, C Samson Satele, TE Dion Sims, QB Ryan Tannehill, RB/WR Marcus Thigpen, G Dallas Thomas, RB Daniel Thomas, WR Mike Wallace
Key Returning Defensive Players: LB Dannell Ellerbe, CB Brent Grimes, LB Jelani Jenkins, S Reshad Jones, DE Dion Jordan, LB Koa Misi, DT Jared Odrick, DT Randy Starks, DE Olivier Vernon, DE Cameron Wake, LB Phillip Wheeler
Free Agent Additions: OT Branden Albert, G Daryn Colledge, WR Kevin Cone, S Louis Delmas, CB Cortland Finnegan, OT Jason Fox, DT Earl Mitchell, RB Knowshon Moreno, QB Brady Quinn, G Shelley Smith, WR Damian Williams
Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 19 - Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee; Round 2, Pick 63 - Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU; Round 3, Pick, 67 - Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State; Round 4, Pick 125 - Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty; Round 5, Pick 155 - Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia; Round 5, Pick 171 - Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana; Round 6, Pick 190 - Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina; Round 7, Pick 234 - Terrence Fede, DE, Marist
Outlook: Some experts consider the Dolphins a sleeper to challenge the New England Patriots for the division crown. Others consider them a middle of the pack team.
No matter where they finish, it will likely be because of the development of second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He is a dual-threat passer that was a polarizing draft prospect in 2013. Scouts either thought he would become a Pro Bowler or a quality backup.
The former first round draft pick needs help from his offensive line. For that reason, the Dolphins signed four offensive linemen with starting experience in free agency and selected two in the first three rounds of the draft in May.
The Dolphins have a few weapons on offense. Charles Clay can extend the middle of the field and Mike Wallace is a very good deep threat on the outside. Running back Knowshon Moreno is coming off a career year with the Denver Broncos last season. He, Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have shown good things in their careers as well as inconsistencies.
The Dolphins defense is good. The secondary is improved with the additions of former Detroit Lion safety Louis Delmas and former St. Louis Ram cornerback Cortland Finnegan. The front seven will be the strength of the Dolphins with linebackers Dannell Ellerbe, Koa Misi and Phillip Wheeler as well as pass rushing specialists Dion Jordan and Cameron Wake and defensive tackles Jared Odrick and Randy Starks.
If everything falls in place, the Dolphins will be a much improved team. It all starts with Tannehill and his development.