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The NFL has entered the final quarter of its regular season and the Miami Dolphins are right in the thick of the playoff race.  After getting a crucial road win over the New York Jets on Monday Night Football, the Dolphins are currently holding the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.  Miami (7-5) is tied with five other teams, all with seven wins, but hold the advantage over all of them due to various tiebreakers.

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One of the teams they share the same record with is this week’s opponent, the Baltimore Ravens.  Every game for the rest of the season is going to have the same importance of a playoff game, but there is an even bigger emphasis on beating the Ravens (7-5) as they could jump over Miami in the standings with a win.  With that in mind, here are the Dolphins keys to victory over the Ravens.

Stop The Run

Justin Forsett #29 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a touchdown during the second quarter of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 24, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Source: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(Source: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

It was only two weeks ago that the Dolphins were the NFL’s second ranked defense and were eighth best against the run.  Two games and 478 rushing yards later, Miami’s stout run defense has sprung a leak that needs to be plugged as soon as possible.  Ravens’ running back Justin Forsett has already eclipsed 1,000 yards on the ground this year and will provide a very tough test for the Fins.

Take Advantage Of Ravens Banged Up Secondary

While Baltimore’s defense features a very tough front seven, their secondary has been depleted by injuries this season.  Top cornerback Jimmy Smith was lost for the season after suffering a foot injury in October and the Ravens other starting corner, Lardarius Webb, is having an off-year and seems to still be bothered by a back injury he sustained during training camp.  Baltimore is relying on safety-turned-corner Anthony Levine who has yet to play up to his predecessors standards, as well as a couple of former high draft picks at safety in Terrance Brooks and Matt Elam, both of whom have yet to show that they are worthy of their draft position.  Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins passing game need to attack the Ravens’ defensive weaknesses early and often.

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Get Off To A Quick Start

(Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

(Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

I know we’ve said this multiple times this season, but it continues to be an issue for the Dolphins to jump on their opponents early in games.  Miami is returning home after back-to-back road games and should have a packed Sun Life Stadium full of fans who know that this game is essentially a playoff game.  If the Dolphins can get off to a good start on Sunday, not only will it bode well for the team’s confidence but it will also get their fans that much more into the game.

Control The Clock

(Source: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

(Source: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

This is something that the Ravens will be trying to do considering their issues on defense and strong run attack.  Miami needs to get the upper hand in the ball possession game and use their fast-paced offense to keep the ball in their hands.  Lamar Miller has run the ball well all season but only gets around 10-15 carries per game.  They either need to rely more on Miller on Sunday or execute their short and intermediate passing plays to perfection in order to keep the Ravens offense off the field.

Watch Miami take on the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS4, your official Dolphins station!

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