The Dolphins spent a great deal of money on Free Agent DL Ndamukong Suh in hopes of shoring up their Defensive front and building a team capable of making a run at the Super Bowl champion Patriots in the AFC East.
Here in Week 1, the Fish will be tested in Landover, Maryland against the Washington Redskins who have scrapped QB RGIII and are going with Kirk Cousins to start the season. So, do the hosts have enough to upset the Road Favorite Dolphins here or will Miami get off to a 1-0 start? Let’s analyze, see who’s healthy for this game on Sunday and make a pick based on Logic and some of the Trends.
Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins [Sunday 18:00] (CBS, Directv 708, NFL RedZone, 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT): The Washington Redskins (4-12, 301 PF-438 PA) play host to the Miami Dolphins (8-8, 301 PF-438 PA) at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland in this NFL Kickoff Weekend and Week 1 inter-conference affair on Sunday afternoon. Currently, the Dolphins are 3½- to 4-point favorites in sportsbooks here in Las Vegas, Offshore and Online with the Total at 43 almost everywhere although Pinnacle, 5Dimes and a couple of others have the Total at 43½ now. On the Moneyline, the favored Dolphins are -184 with Washington +166 on the takeback (Pinnacle). The Miami Dolphins Team Total is 23½ (Under +100, Sky Bet) for this game while the Washington Redskins Team Total has been set at 19½ (Over, Under both -110, Ladbrokes). First Half Total markets are just opening with Betway the only sportsbook offering a line for now: 22½ (Under -115, Over -105). The First Half odds for this game, as well as the 15 others, will be released later in the week.
So many people are so high on the Miami Dolphins (1-3 Preseason, 70 PF-89 PA) and their prospects this coming 2015 NFL Regular Season but it may be a good idea to take a scrutinizing look at Miami’s schedule as the Fish have a very easy First Half but a brutal Second Half in their 16 games this NFL season. And the Dolphins, who signed Free Agent DL Ndamukong Suh (Lions) to a massive contract to shore up their Defensive Line, were less than impressive in the Preseason although who knows how hard teams try and what their motivation is in some of these games. Winning may be like fifth or sixth on Head Coaches lists in the Preseason. But here in Week 1, it’s all about getting that “W” and even though the Redskins were one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, this game could be very hard for Miami as it is the Regular Season opener, is in Washington (Landover, Maryland) and the Redskins have to be extremely happy management has plugged Kirk Cousins in at QB,
For the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill (13-10-1 ATS at Home) is the starting QB and his skill position players are pretty underrated and fairly deep at WR. Free Agent-signee Greg Jennings (Vikings; 59 receptions, 742 yards, 6 TDs) and unheralded Kenny Stills (63 receptions, 931 yards, 3 TDs) may end up being Miami’s starters but with top Draft choice DeVante Parker (West Virginia; 25/1 Offensive Rookie of the Year, 5Dimes) and Rishard Matthews—who was reportedly great this Preseason—and a solid RB in Lamar Miller (216 rushes, 1,099 yards, 8 TDs). While many think management and fourth-year Head Coach Joe Philbin (24-24 ATS) bringing in Suh may be the thing that makes Miami a legitimate player in the NFL, it may actually be the Offense and the combination of Tannehill working with Miller, Jennings, Stills, Matthews and Rookie Parker and other that actually ends up putting them on the map and helping the Dolphins (33/1 to win Super Bowl, Ladbrokes) make the Playoffs. Watch this Dolphins’ receiving group.
The Washington Redskins (4-12 in 2104, 301- PF-438 PA last season) did the smart thing and named Robert Griffin III a backup QB and Kirk Cousins their starter last week. Reports indicate many Redskins players thought this move was long overdue and by making this move before the Regular Season started, Washington Head Coach Jay Gruden (5-11 ATS) has given his team a chance to just worry about what’s happening on the gridiron and not in the possibly concussed head of a young man who seemed to have the weight of the franchise on his 25-year-old shoulders. And that wasn’t fair to either Griffin or the Redskins organization.
So now, a fresh start, and although maybe not up to the level of the aforementioned Dolphins skill position players, Miami does have a decent nucleus in RB Alfred Morris (265 rushes, 1,074 yards, 8 TDs), TE Jordan Reed (50 receptions, 465 yards) and WRs DeSean Jackson (56 receptions, 1,169 yards, 6 TDs) and Pierre Garçon (68 receptions, 752 yards, 3 TDs) while Rookie RB Matt Jones (Florida) is said to have looked good in the Preseason. Washington will be plugging in some starters on its team including NT Terrance Knighton, DT Stephen Paea, CB Chris Culliver and S Dashon Goldson on Defense and Cousins (QB), RT Morgan Moses and Rookie RT Brandon Scherff on Offense. The skinny here? Washington’s Defense will probably have to try to keep them in games and after allowing 438 points last season, that has to be a very scary prospect for Redskins (200/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) fans. Defenses don’t improve overnight.
Series Numbers, Recent Relevant Trends and Game Expectations
These two teams play once every three seasons and don’t have a great body of work or many recent relevant Trends for bettors to digest as the Redskins play in the NFC East while the Dolphins swim in the warm waters of the AFC East. The last time these two played was in 2011 when the Dolphins won and covered as 4-point favorites in Miami Gardens, 20-9, while the last time these two teams played here at FedEx Field was way back in 2007 when the host Redskins defeated Miami, 16-13 and pushed the Point Spread as 3-point chalks. Washington (2-7 ATS L9 on Grass) will probably look to slow this one down as to not let the Dolphins try to get the ball to Jennings, Sills or Parker so easily, and with Cousins being named starter and this being Week 1, some tentativeness and learning will be involved, possibly stifling any quicker pace.
The Trends scream Under here and that has been the feel on this game all along as was written about here last week. The Under is 6-2 in the Dolphins L8 games in Week 1 and 13-6 ATS the L19 Regular Season openers for Washington although the Over is 9-3 in the Redskins L12 games played in September. And in the Dolphins L53 games on the Road, the Under is 36-17 ATS (67.9%), showing this is a team which plays chess-match type games away from home and has never really had a prolific and high-scoring team since the days of Dan Marino.
Because of expectations, the better Roster, the tougher division they play in and having a QB not starting from scratch, Miami should probably find a way to eke out a win here (Redskins +175 Moneyline, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) although Washington could definitely pull off the upset at Home here and actually played a little better in the Preseason than Miami. With the Sides and Point Spreads seeming right on, the safest NFL pick here seems to be simply making a straight bet in the Under and to shop around (or wait) for the highest Totals number.
Predicted Final Score: Dolphins 20 Redskins 16
NFL Pick: Under 43.5 (-110) at 5Dimes