The five-step checklist for the Kansas City Chiefs to move past the Dolphins

Will the Kansas City Chiefs be able to overcome their recent struggles and defeat the Miami Dolphins in a crucial Wild Card game? Find out what they need to do to secure a victory.

Dec 10, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs with
Dec 10, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs with / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Force Tua to throw it deep

It sounds counterintuitive, but the Chiefs will want to force Miami to throw the ball deep in this game. The reason this makes sense is because the Dolphins running game will be more dangerous than their passing attack. They're one of the most explosive rushing teams in the NFL and De’Von Achane averaged 7.8 yards per carry across more than 100 attempts. Raheem Mostert, who's questionable for this game, was tied for 4th among all running backs in 10+ yard runs. The Chiefs cannot let Miami's rushing attack control this game or they could be in for a long game, both in terms of the result and how much they're on the field.

Some good news is that Miami is far less effective at running the ball when defenses stack the box even a little bit. One thing that's evident on film is that they're better at rushing when defenses, try to limit the explosive passing game, and play two safeties deep. When defenses put an extra defender in the box, the Dolphins struggle to run.

Given the weather conditions, the injuries to Miami's top wide receivers, and the quality of cornerbacks in Kansas City, it makes a lot of sense for the Chiefs to sell out to stop the run. Stack the box and blitz the daylight out of Tua and the running game. Force Miami into 2nd and 3rd & longs, allowing Spags to be extra creative on those plays, which will get the defense off the field and onto the bench where they can stay warm. Nick Bolton is a player I'm looking at to have a big game as run defense is his specialty.

Deep passes, even for the best teams, are more difficult to complete than others, especially for a team from Florida in the cold. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are both nowhere near 100% and the Chiefs have excellent cornerbacks in L'Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie.

The conditions tonight are a total nightmare for a quarterback with limited arm strength, like Tua Tagovailoa. When it's windy, quarterbacks need to fire the ball with enough power so the wind is less likely to be a factor, which is why players like Mahomes and Josh Allen don't really lose a step come playoff time. Tua is a different guy. He's a passer more dependent on his accuracy than arm strength, which will be a giant issue in the cold and wind if his receivers don't generate consistent separation.

Given how limited Hill and Waddle are coming into this game, Sneed and McDuffie should be able to handle both of them, as they did in Week 9. Steve Spagnuolo should play man-to-man for most of the game, with maybe 1 high safety to serve as insurance against Tyreek, betting that his stud corners can cover injured speed receivers.