KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Hard Rock Stadium. TV: NBC, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter).
SERIES HISTORY: 34th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 16-16-1. Miami has won the last five meetings, including a 38-14 win in London in 2014. The Raiders scored on their opening drive then were blown out in the last game coached by Dennis Allen, who was fired when the Raiders reached home and replaced by interim coach Tony Sparano. The last Raiders win was in 2007 in Miami, with Daunte Culpepper rushing for three touchdowns and the Raiders rushing for 299 yards.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Miami, which likes to pass off play-action, will have to feel its way around this one. Running back Kenyan Drake will likely take over most of the ball-carrying duties with Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi traded to Philadelphia. Third-down specialist Damien Williams also figures to share the running load. Both are relative unknowns. That throws some uncertainty into the offensive strategy, but ideally Miami wants to establish the run.
Oakland likely will try to put the game in quarterback Jay Cutler’s hands, especially considering he’s coming back from a rib injury. Cutler hasn’t been consistent and neither have his receivers. The Raiders may blitz more frequently than usual against Cutler.
For the Raiders, running back Marshawn Lynch returns from a one-game suspension after a week in which both Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington struggled running the ball against Buffalo. The Raiders’ lack of play-action has been a season-long issue. Expect coordinator Todd Downing to use more of it to slow the Miami pass rush, including Cameron Wake, with Derek Carr looking to get the ball downfield after staying with short throws against Buffalo.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Raiders RT Marshall Newhouse vs. Dolphins DE Cameron Wake. Wake can still bring it at age 35, with six sacks in seven games and coming off an 11.5-sack season a year ago. At 6-foot-3 and 263 pounds, Wake presents a problem for Newhouse, who returned to action against Buffalo after missing the Kansas City win with a foot injury. Newhouse has long been considered a better pass blocker than a run blocker, so the Raiders will probably see in the first series or two whether the veteran can hold his own before committing an extra player or two (a running back or tight end) for help. It will help if right guard Gabe Jackson or Jon Feliciano can deal with Ndamukong Suh on a fairly even basis, allowing more help for Wake.
–Dolphins OTs Ja’Wuan James and Laremy Tunsil vs. Raiders DE Khalil Mack. Mack can wreck Miami’s game plan by himself, so it will be imperative for James and Tunsil to keep him under control at all times. That might be asking too much, but they did a good job vs. Chargers DEs Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Dolphins WR DeVante Parker. Parker returns from a three-game absence due to an ankle injury with lots to prove. His reliability has been questioned during his previous two seasons — and remains a question. His production also has been questioned, and now that the offense needs a spark, his response will be eyed closely. Parker has the skills to be a difference-maker, but those displays come and go. Miami’s offense needs Parker to become a star.
FAST FACTS: Raiders QB Derek Carr passed for 313 yards and a TD last week. He has 1,136 passing yards (284 per game) with 10 TDs and two INTs in the past four games vs. the AFC East. … Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch has 53 rushing TDs since 2011, the most in the NFL. … Oakland WR Michael Crabtree has six TD catches in the past six games. … Raiders DE Khalil Mack has three sacks in the past three games on the road. He has 31.5 sacks since 2015, third most in the NFL. … Oakland S Reggie Nelson has 35 career INTs, most among active NFL safeties. … Miami QB Jay Cutler has four passing TDs in past two games. … Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry has a TD catch in three of the past four games. He ranks second in the NFL with 50 catches. Since entering the league in 2014, he has 338 catches and needs five to pass Anquan Boldin (342) for most by a player in his first four seasons in NFL history. … Miami LB Lawrence Timmons led the team with 13 tackles in Week 8. He is one of three active players (Julius Peppers and Karlos Dansby) with 35 sacks (35.5) and 10 INTs (12). … Dolphins DE Cameron Wake has four sacks in the past three games at home. He leads the team and ranks seventh in the AFC with six sacks.
PREDICTION: The Dolphins’ offense had question marks before the trade of Ajayi. It won’t have enough answers this week even with the return of Cutler.
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, AT&T Stadium. TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (field reporter).
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 6-4. Kansas City holds the bragging rights from the last matchup between the two franchises that once shared the city of Dallas. The Chiefs knocked off the Cowboys 17-16 thanks to two touchdown passes from quarterback Alex Smith in coach Andy Reid’s first season in Kansas City. But the Chiefs own just one win in five tries in Dallas. This marks the team’s first visit to AT&T Stadium.
KEYS TO THE GAME: A shootout seems likely between two of the league’s top five scoring teams, and the Chiefs need to improve upon their red-zone performance. Kansas City settled for a mere six points on three trips to the red zone last week against the Broncos. Establishing the run with rookie Kareem Hunt and feeding a red-hot Travis Kelce should help the offense roll.
On the defensive side, the Chiefs must find a solution for slowing down the Dallas run game, with or without Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. Dak Prescott said it best. The Cowboys may have lost Elliott, but they still have best offensive line in the league. So they plan to continue to run the ball against a suspect Chiefs run defense. Prescott will have to convert third downs and make some plays down the field.
Defensively, the Cowboys must stop Hunt and prevent big plays on the outside from receiver Tyreek Hill.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Chiefs TE Travis Kelce vs. Cowboys FS Byron Jones. Kelce might be the best tight end in football right now. He has 44 catches for 556 yards and five touchdowns. He is coming off a seven-catch, 133-yard performance against the Broncos on Monday night. With his size and quickness, he is the ultimate mismatch player and will be a challenge for Jones, who has seen his fair share of top tight ends in the league. He will need to contain Kelce or he will get danced on in the end zone.
–Cowboys WR Dez Bryant vs. Chiefs CB Marcus Peters. Peters is quietly becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the league — a two-time Pro Bowl player who has a knack for turnovers. He has three interceptions this season and returned a fumble for a touchdown Monday night against the Broncos after also forcing the ball out on the tackle. The Cowboys can’t shy away from his side of the field, and Bryant will need to make some big plays now that running back Ezekiel Elliott is suspended.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick. He is coming off one of the best games of his career against the Redskins, with eight tackles, two for losses, and an 86-yard blocked FG return. But he can’t rest on his laurels with speedy Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill on deck. Scandrick said former Olympian Marquise Goodwin of the 49ers was the fastest receiver he had ever gone against. Hill may be faster and certainly quicker.
FAST FACTS: Chiefs QB Alex Smith has 16 passing TDs and no interceptions in 2017, tied for the third-most TD passes without an interception to start a season in NFL history. He passed for two TDs and no interceptions and rushed for 57 yards in the last meeting. … RB Kareem Hunt leads the NFL with 763 rushing yards and 1,070 scrimmage yards. He has the fourth-most scrimmage yards by a rookie in NFL history in a team’s first eight games. He has 662 scrimmage yards (165.5 per game) with four TDs in his past four games on the road. … CB Marcus Peters had an interception, a forced fumble and a 45-yard fumble return touchdown last week. He has 21 takeaways since entering the league in 2015, tied for the most in the first three seasons among active players. … Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has 528 passing yards, four TDs and no interceptions and a rushing TD in two career home games against the AFC. In his past seven games at home, he has 1,758 passing yards, 14 TDs and two interceptions. He has three-plus TD passes in three of the past four games. … RB Alfred Morris has 962 rushing yards (87.5 per game) and eight TDs in 11 career games against AFC foes when he has had 15-plus rushing attempts. … DE DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks and is tied for the league lead with three forced fumbles. He has a sack in all seven games this season. He has three sacks and two forced fumbles in the past three games against AFC teams. He has 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the past three games at home.
PREDICTION: Tony Romo’s excitement level for his first game at AT&T Stadium as an announcer instead of a player may bust open Jerry Jones’ dome before halftime. One could do worse than to bet the over on this one with two explosive offenses, and the Chiefs will come out on top with a late field goal from Harrison Butker.