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By the Numbers: Dolphins-Eagles clash on TSN in potential Super Bowl preview

Tua Tagovailoa Raheem Mostert Miami Dolphins Tua Tagovailoa Raheem Mostert - The Canadian Press

The Miami Dolphins (5-1) travel to Philadelphia to take on Jalen Hurts and the defending-NFC Champion Eagles (5-1) on Sunday Night Football in a battle of marquee NFL squads.

The Dolphins are coming off a 42-21 drubbing of the winless Carolina Panthers a week ago, while the Eagles are looking to recover from a stunning 20-14 defeat to the New York Jets.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is firmly in the NFL Most Valuable Player discussion after leading the Dolphins to offensive production not seen since the historic "Greatest Show on Turf" of the St. Louis Rams at the turn of the century. 

The Eagles have been strong on both sides of the ball, with an offence and defence ranked in the top 10 in yardage through six games. 

Watch the Dolphins and Eagles battle on Sunday Night Football LIVE on the TSN Network, and the TSN App, with coverage starting at 7pm ET / 4pm PT. 

The Dolphins offence has totaled 2,992 yards of offence through six games this season - their 498.7 yards per game on offence would easily set a new NFL record, and their yardage total through six games is second in NFL history behind the St. Louis Rams in 2000 (3,056).

Single-season yards per game, NFL history

Team Season Yards per game Games played
Miami Dolphins  2023  498.7 
New Orleans Saints  2011  467.1  16 
Denver Broncos  2013  457.3  16 
Los Angeles Rams  1951  450.8  12 
San Diego Chargers  1982  449.8 

Of those teams, only the Rams were eventually crowned league champions when they defeated the Cleveland Browns 24-17 in the NFL Championship game (the Super Bowl would not be introduced until more than a decade later).

What is more noteworthy about the Dolphins this year is how they're succeeding - the Dolphins are currently leading the NFL in both passing yards (323.8) and rushing yards (181.8) per game - a feat that has not been achieved since the 1964 Buffalo Bills did so as a member of the American Football League.

While every other offence in the top five for single-season yardage production led their respective leagues in passing, none of them were able to duplicate that success in the ground game.

Top 5 NFL offences by offensive production spread

Team Season Passing yards per game League rank Rushing yards per game League rank
Miami Dolphins  2023  323.8  181.8 
New Orleans Saints  2011  344.1  132.9 
Denver Broncos  2013  348.3  117.1  15 
Los Angeles Rams  1951  274.7  184.2 
San Diego Chargers  1982  335.7  124.6  11 

That balance in offensive efficiency is helped in large part by the speed the Dolphins put on the field game after game. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, the top five fastest-recorded speeds by NFL ball carriers this season have all been Dolphins players. 

Four-time NFL First-Team All-Pro Tyreek Hill is at the top of that list, having been clocked at 22.01 miles per hour during a touchdown reception in Week 5, while running backs Devon Achane and Raheem Mostert also join Hill in the top-five.

That speed allows Miami to play an open style of offence, and it also means that big plays can happen at any time and from anywhere on the field. 

Hill, Mostert, and Achane have combined for 12 plays of 40 yards or more this year, with Hill leading the way at six (most among wide receivers), and Achane leading all RBs with four. 

Most plays of 40+ yards

Team Plays of 40+ yards Team record Offensive yardage rank
Miami Dolphins  14  5-1 
Tennessee Titans  2-4  26 
Philadelphia Eagles  5-1 
Buffalo Bills  5-1 
San Francisco 49ers  5-1 

The Eagles have been no slouches on the offensive side either of the ball either, but they have a stern edge over the Dolphins on the defensive side of the ball.

Buoyed by rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who was selected ninth overall by the Eagles in this year's NFL Draft, Philadelphia has remained one of the toughest defences in the NFL, especially against the run. 

In their Super Bowl run a year ago, where they fell 38-35 in the big game against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles touted the eighth-best defence in terms of points allowed, and second-best in terms of yardage allowed.

This year, through a 5-1 start, the results are similar, though a touch weaker: 15th in points allowed, ninth in yardage allowed.

Defensive numbers, Dolphins vs. Eagles

Team Passing yard per game allowed League rank Rushing yards per game allowed League rank Points allowed League rank
Miami Dolphins 229.2  19  114.5  20  156  26 
Philadelphia Eagles 232.2  20  65.8  124  15 

The Eagles have held their opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in every game but one this season, and that game went to overtime against the Washington Commanders in Week 4. 

Achane is currently on the Injured Reserve with a knee injury, so controlling Mostert and the rest of the Miami backfield will likely go a long way to deciding who the winner of this matchup will be.  

This matchup is a little bit more personal than most for both Hurts and Tagovailoa, as they were teammates at Alabama for two years. In his freshman season, Tagovailoa replaced a struggling Hurts at halftime in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs. 

Tua turned a 13-0 deficit into a 26-23 comeback victory in overtime, and Hurts later transferred to Oklahoma after sitting on the bench behind Tagovailoa in 2019. 

"He went down a different road than I did to get to where I'm at," Tagovailoa said of Hurts before Week 7. "And he had to go down a different road to get to where he's at. But like I said, I got a lot of respect for him -- who he is as a person, who he is as a player and wish him the best of luck as we play him." 

NFL comparison: Hurts vs. Tagovailoa

Player 2023 passing yards 2023 passing TDs 2023 record as starter Career passing yards Career passing touchdowns Career record as starter
Jalen Hurts  1,542  5-1  9,448  51  28-12 
Tua Tagovailoa  1,876  14  5-1  9,891  66  26-14 

While the Eagles rank second in the NFL in scoring, their offence has looked unlike the top-flight unit from a season ago. 

Hurts, who finished second in MVP voting a season ago, has already surpassed his interception total from last year. After a brutal three-interception day in a loss against the New York Jets last Sunday, Hurts has now thrown for seven touchdowns and seven picks this year. 

That is a stark drop-off from his efficient 22 touchdown, six interception performance in 15 games last year. 

Working in Hurts' and the Eagles' favour against Miami: the Dolphins defence has forced just five turnovers this year, ranked 23rd in the NFL. 

Watch the Dolphins and Eagles battle on Sunday Night Football LIVE on the TSN Network, and the TSN App, with coverage starting at 7pm ET / 4pm PT.