49ers-Dolphins Statistical Preview: A Three-Hour Tour

So this week the 49ers finally, and I mean finally, make their way down to my backyard for a regular season game against Dolphins. The last time they did that was in 1995, when Elvis Grbac, starting in place of an injured Steve Young, threw for 382 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 44-20 Niner win. Unfortunately, I was unable to go to that game. And it's just as well. I've been to 4 Niner games in person (@ NO twice, @ TB twice), and so far, they're 0-4 with a Jerry Rice ACL tear and Mooch-tenure-ending playoff debacle. Despite that, I really wanted to go to Sunday's game. You see, the genesis of my 49er fandom occurred on January 20, 1985. It was my 7th birthday, and my hometown Dolphins were playing the 49ers in Super Bowl XIX. On that day, I realized that the Fins were fraudulent heartbreakers while the Niners were a joy-inducing football juggernaut. And because it was on my birthday, I've been a 49er fan ever since (much to the chagrin of several friends and relatives).

Fast forward back to Sunday's game. Several events have conspired to keep me from going. First, my brother relinquished his Dolphins season tickets before this year, presumably because he didn't want to have to sit through 3 hours of another Niner blowout with me. Second, I booked a cruise for this weekend not realizing that the Dolphin game was on the 14th. Long story short, I'll be watching the game at Atlantis casino's sports book in the Bahamas. I'm leaving in a couple of hours, so yeah, THIS long story (aka the stat preview) will be short.

49ERS-DOLPHINS DVOA MATCHUP

Here's how the 49ers stack up against the Dolphins in terms of DVOA:

Team

Total DVOA

Rank

Offense

Rank

Defense

Rank

Special Teams

Rank

SF

-18.5%

26

-16.6%

28

7.5%

18

5.6%

2

MIA

5.3%

14

14.6%

9

2.4%

12

-6.8%

31

This week's matchup is nearly identical to last week's when it comes to overall DVOA and what we can expect from the Niners against the Dolphins defense. Differences between the Dolphins and Jets emerge, however, on special teams and when the Niners D is on the field. On special teams, there's obviously a clear advantage for the 49ers. In fact, listening to the radio and print pundits down here over the past few months, you'd think the Dolphins special teams was the worst in the history of the NFL. When the 49ers are on defense, though, they're going to have a harder time stopping the 9th-ranked Dolphin offense than they did the 19th-ranked Jets offense because the Fins are a full 10% more efficient.

After the jump, I'll detail 5 crucial game situations, and make my prediction for the game...

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

The five SVW's to focus on during this week's 49ers-Dolphins matchup are detailed below:

Situation

SF Rank

MIA Rank

SF DEFENSE VS. MIA OFFENSE ON 3RD AND MID

3

26

SF RED ZONE OFFENSE VS. MIA RED ZONE DEFENSE

31

4

SF RED ZONE PASS OFFENSE VS. MIA RED ZONE PASS DEFENSE

30

7

SF RED ZONE RUSH OFFENSE VS. MIA RED ZONE RUSH DEFENSE

30

8

SF DEFENSE VS. MIA OFFENSE ON 2ND AND SHORT

27

7

Ummm...Looks to me like this game is going to be decided in the red zone. Not listed in the table is the fact that the Dolphins are also top-8 in all three red zone offense categories.

"WITH HIGH HOPE FOR THE FUTURE, NO PREDICTION IS VENTURED." - ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Last week, I got the 49ers' point total exactly right but was a touchdown high on the Jets' end. Somehow, I didn't get any points in the prediction game though. Shennanigans! Anyway, this pick is less stat-based than it is Danny-can't-bring-himself-to-pick-the-Dolphins-over-the-49ers-based. One caveat, however: be warned that I never bet on Dolphin games or 49er games because I'm always wrong when I do. Perhaps a Dolphins-49ers game cancels out the negatives? Let's hope. I'll be back from the cruise on Monday, so until then, GO NINERS!!!

San Francisco 49ers

23

Miami Dolphins

21

 

**DVOA statistics used to produce this article were obtained from Football Outsiders.

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