The Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys have been considered two of the better teams in the NFL this season. Yesterday, both had one of their toughest tests of the season. The Dolphins had to go to Frankfurt to take on the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Cowboys faced off against their arch-rival Philadelphia Eagles.
Unfortunately, both teams came up short and lost one-score games. For many, these games were a good measuring stick for these two teams. Their opponents were the two teams who made the Super Bowl last year.
Does this mean that these two teams are overrated? Can the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys redeem themselves with their next big opportunities? Let’s look at what went wrong and what they can work on.
The Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys have problems with their offenses disappearing in big games. Neither team has faced elite teams too often this season. At the time of writing, the Dolphins and Cowboys have only had three games against teams over .500.
How do their offenses fare in these matchups? The answer is not great. Miami averages just 17 points per game in these games, while the Cowboys average just 16.5 points per game when facing teams who currently have five or more wins. Considering these are the #1 and #3 offenses in points per game this season, this trend is alarming.
Part of this is also simply controlling the flow of the game. If they face a team that is good with time of possession, this can limit their opportunities to strike while on the field. A good example of this is the Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams lost to the Eagles, and Philadelphia ranks third in the NFL in average time of possession (33:18).
Fighting Fire With Fire
Another problem these two teams face when stepping up in class is that their opponents are not far behind them offensively. The Eagles are second in the NFL in points per game. San Francisco and Buffalo round out the top five there, while Kansas City is not far behind, with just over 23 points per game.
This typically means that the Dolphins and Cowboys face pressure to maintain their elite offensive numbers to win football games. As a result, when they play teams not far behind, there is less room for error. Unfortunately, the Dolphins and Cowboys do not always handle that well.
You can argue both teams made crucial errors that cost them wins yesterday. For the Dolphins, this is more obvious. Tyreek Hill fumbled a ball late in the second quarter that was recovered by the Chiefs. Kansas City then made a miraculous lateral play on the fumble return that led to a touchdown. That touchdown was the difference in the game, with the final score being 21-14.
Let’s shift over to the Cowboys. For them, it was a game of inches. On fourth and goal, the Cowboys threw a pass that ended up being inches short of the goal line. Then, after converting a touchdown later, Prescott took off running during a two-point conversion attempt. Unfortunately, he stepped out of bounds just shy of the end zone. That kept Dallas down by five and needing a touchdown instead of a field goal on their final drive.
While both teams face a big problem when they face elite teams, they do have time to address these issues. Next week, the Dolphins have a bye, and the Cowboys face the lowly New York Giants at home. These two teams will play each other later in the season on Christmas Eve.