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Miami Dolphins vs Houston Texans

Miami Dolphins vs Houston Texans, Thursday night live on Sky Sports Watch live on Sky Sports Action & Main Event from 08.20am, Friday

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Miami Dolphins vs Houston Texans

Week Eight in the NFL opens with a Miami Dolphins side on slide – without their main quarterback Ryan Tannehill – taking on a resurgent Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event from 12.30am. Here’s what you can expect…

Both teams hold 4-3 records for the season but the Dolphins are falling into decline – having lost three of their last four – and are struggling to maintain a healthy roster .The Texans, meanwhile, have rediscovered their mojo and are on a four-match winning streak.

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Miami Dolphins vs Houston Texans

Miami enjoyed a fast start to the season, with wins over the Tennessee Titans, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders but an injury to Tannehill has ruled the quarterback out of the last two matches in the midst of a poor run. Though replacement Brock Osweiler, staggeringly, pulled off an overtime win against the Chicago Bears in Week Six, and was handy despite defeat against the Detroit Lions last Sunday.

Houston are heading in the opposite direction – bouncing back from early season defeats to the New England Patriots, Titans and New York Giants. Their defense has finally shown up and, after a pair of overtime wins against the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys, more convincing victories over the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars have followed.

The Texans are the fourth team in the last 30 seasons to lose their opening three games of a season and then win at least four straight games. The others team are the Bills in 1998, the Pitsburgh Steelers in 2000 and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011 – Buffalo are the only team to go on to make the playoffs.

Struggling offenses need to improve: Neither side boasts particularly healthy stock on the offensive side of the ball, with Adam Gase’s Dolphins battling a lengthening injury list. Wide receiver Albert Wilson is the latest player to be sidelined with a hip injury and Kenny Stills is continuing his recovery from a groin injury, leaving Osweiler without his key targets in the passing game.

Meanwhile, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien and quarterback Deshaun Watson will be hoping to see their offensive tackles provide more adequate protection. Watson has the unfortunate record of leading the league in being hit this season – a breathtaking 68 hits on the QB – with tackles Martinas Rankin, Julie’n Davenport and Kendall Lamm committing far too many mistakes.

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Brock Osweiler returns to Houston, where he was unceremoniously jettisoned following the 2016 season, only a year on from signing a four-year, $72 million contract. He is only a stand-in at Miami, but he has shown flashes in his two starts so far this season – throwing for 380 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Bears and then 239 yards and two TDs against the Lions last week. Can he follow that up with another strong outing and prove to the Texans they were wrong to let him go?

For Houston, it is no surprise that a welcome return to form for pass rushers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney has coincided with their unbeaten run. The pair have combined for eight sacks, 16 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss across their four-game win streak. Watt, in particular, looks back to the top of his game, with seven sacks and four forced fumbles in the opening seven matches this year – making him one of just three players in the NFL to pull off that feat this season.

Watch the Miami Dolphins at the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Action from 12.30am on Friday morning.

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