5 things to watch when the Raiders face the Dolphins Sunday

If Raider Nation is upset with offensive coordinator Todd Downing and the lackluster Raiders’ offense, imagine how Dolphins fans must feel?

The Raiders and Dolphins, two of the worst offenses in the NFL, clash in Miami for this week’s “Sunday Night Football” matchup.

Downing’s dink-and-dunk plays has frustrated Raiders fans all season. It’s been much worse for the Dolphins’ offense, which is ranked 32nd in total offense. The Raiders are ranked 14th in total offense.

Even with the Dolphins’ issues on offense, they remain in the AFC wildcard hunt at 4-3. The Raiders still have hope at 3-5 but it’s must-win time for Oakland.

Here are five things you need to know about the Raiders’ Week 9 opponent:

1. The Raiders won’t have to worry about bruising running back Jay Ajayi, who was traded to Philadelphia on Tuesday. But it’s not like Ajayi was having a productive season. Kenyan Drake, Damien Williams and Senorise Perry will split carries to fill Ajayi’s avoid and attempt to boost a rushing attack that’s ranked 31st in the league with 76.4 yards per game. The Dolphins’ offensive line hasn’t provided holes to allow the running backs to churn out big gains. Miami coach Adam Gase might incorporate more sweeps for speedster Drake, instead of relying on the offensive line to create holes up the middle.

2. Miami’s passing game is just as bad as the ground game. The Dolphins’ front office probably regrets giving Jay Cutler $10 million to come out of retirement after Ryan Tannehill’s season-ending knee injury in August. Cutler is expected to return under center after missing the prior game because of injury to his ribs. The Dolphins were shutout 40-0 with Matt Moore as quarterback against the Ravens in Week 8. Cutler has thrown for 995 yards, seven touchdowns, five interceptions and is completing 62.8 percent of his passes. The Dolphins have scored more than 20 points only once this season. Miami is ranked 31st in passing yards with 176 per game.

3. With the struggles on offense, Miami’s talented receiving corps has had a quiet year. Jarvis Landry, who was on the trading block, is getting his usual receptions, 50 through seven games, but only has 398 receiving yards with three touchdowns. Big-target DeVante Parker (ankle) could return after missing the prior three games. Kenny Stills provides big gains with his speed. If Cutler is able to have a good outing, that could be trouble for the Raiders’ banged-up secondary to keep up with the wide receivers.

4. The Dolphins’ strengths are on the defensive line starting with Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. Suh is finally earning the $114 million contract he signed in 2015. After a few down years, Wake is back to his old dominant self. Despite giving up 40 points to the Ravens, the Dolphins are ranked fifth in total defense. Linebacker Kiko Alonso, who connected on vicious hit to Joe Flacco’s head, avoided suspension for this week.

5. This sounds like a broken record, but this could be the week Derek Carr and the passing game gets back on track. Miami is lacking stars in the secondary with Cordrea Tankersley and Xavien Howard starting at cornerback. But Oakland can’t underestimate this Dolphins’ passing defense, which surprisingly is ranked seventh against the pass and giving up 211 passing yards per game.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Gilbert Manzano covers the NFL for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at gmanzano@reivewjournal.com. Follow @gmanzano24 on Twitter.

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