NFL Week 9 Power Rankings | CBS Sports HQ

NFL Week 9 Power Rankings | CBS Sports HQ

The No. 1-ranked scoring defense in the NFL is …

Not who you think it is.

It’s the Miami Dolphins, fresh off their impressive and dominating defensive performance against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday. In that game, the Dolphins harassed Rams quarterback Jared Goff into four first-half turnovers en route to a 28-17 victory in which they had almost no offense of their own.

The defense was that good.

Dolphins coach Brian Flores came to Miami from New England, where he was defensive coordinator. While in New England, it was his defensive plan that helped shut down the Rams in New England’s Super Bowl victory two years ago.

The same plan was in play Sunday. They lined up in different fronts, usually with six across, and they played a lot of zone behind it. They then attacked the empty sets of the Rams.

The result was a victory for first-time, rookie starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, even though he didn’t play that well. The Dolphins are now 4-3 and clearly in the playoff race and up to 13th in my Power Rankings.

When Flores took over in 2019, he had a lot of work to do. They said the Dolphins were tanking for Tua, but the reality is they had to complete an overhaul of the roster, which they are in the process of doing.

You can tell by watching the Dolphins play that they have bought into Flores’ no-nonsense approach. It’s easier to do with younger players, which is why there was talk early last year that Flores might be losing some of the team with his rigid approach.

The reality is he was right. Weed out the weak, and play on with those who buy into your beliefs.

The Dolphins play hard, which is evident when you watch the tape. The defense isn’t loaded with top-level talent, but there is enough of it to make it work.

Being top-ranked in scoring defense means they are legit. This week they face a tough road test against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals offense. That won’t be easy, but if they pass that test, the playoffs will be much more of a reality — no matter what they do on offense.


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