Miami Dolphins at Green Bay Packers
By: Mitch Light | 10/15/10, 6:00 AM EDT
Pick your favorite TV medical drama — M*A*S*H*, ER, Trapper John M.D., whatever — and cue up the theme music. It should be played when the Packers, or what’s left of them, come out of the tunnel at Lambeau Field Sunday. Their injury report reads like the Who’s Who of their roster, with tight end Jermichael Finley (knee) and linebacker Nick Barnett (wrist) on the verge of joining running back Ryan Grant (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (knee) as the latest starters to end up on season-ending injured reserve.
Keys for the Packers
• The Packers’ injury problems have been most debilitating on defense, where they’ll be without Burnett and Barnett and may be without NFL sack leader Clay Matthews (8.5 sacks), who pulled his troublesome left hamstring against Washington last week. While not as severe as the pull he had in preseason, Matthews may not play, which eliminates the team’s best pass-rusher and most valuable player on defense.
• Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ concussion against Washington put his 38-game streak of regular-season starts in jeopardy, but he passed all the requisite post-concussion tests mandated by the NFL and should be good to go. Now, he can focus on fixing the offense, which has scored just 14 fourth quarter points (one touchdown in last 18 possessions) and converted just 2-of-13 third down situations last week.
Keys for the Dolphins
• The Dolphins haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2005 (Chris Chambers), which explains why they were willing to give up two second-round draft picks for Denver’s Brandon Marshall. The troubled receiver has not disappointed, catching 27 passes for 340 yards in four games, putting him on pace for 108 receptions and 1,360 yards. Look for the Packers to match Charles Woodson on Marshall.
• The Dolphins might have produced the worst single-game special teams performance in NFL history the last time they played, a 41–14 Oct. 4 loss to New England. They allowed a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, had a punt blocked to set up another touchdown and had a field goal attempt blocked and returned for a score. The next day, the team fired special teams coach John Bonamego and promoted assistant special teams coach Darren Rizzi. This will be Rizzi's first game in charge.
If there’s one thing the Dolphins are under Tony Sparano, it’s road warriors. They come in with a better record away from home (11–7) than in South Florida (9–9) since he took over. They’re also coming off a bye and much healthier than the beat-up Packers. Sounds like a recipe for a Miami victory. Dolphins 24–21.