If you’re ever going to make the UNDER one of your NFL picks, you’d think it would be in a game like Thursday’s between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins. Will either team find the end zone this week?
Jason’s record after Week 10: 28-39 ATS, 11-16-1 Totals
Profit: minus-37.63 units
The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins sure know how to light up a scoreboard whenever they meet. Think of all those great offensive displays we’ve seen over the years; let’s see… well, there was that time 10 years ago when Drew Bledsoe threw four TD passes in a wild 42-32 win (OVER 34.5) for Buffalo. That was something. Oooh, remember back in 2001 when Jay Fiedler led Miami to that amazing 34-27 comeback victory (OVER 35.5)? Good times.
What we’re trying to say is that Buffalo and Miami have played a lot of low-scoring games. The UNDER is 4-1 in their last five games and 12-5 since the end of the 2005 campaign. Even in this day and age where sharp handicappers have the OVER as their default pick, you’d think this would be the kind of matchup that would make them want to bet the UNDER. And that’s what nearly two-thirds of early bettors did this week when Thursday night’s total opened at 42.5 points on the Week 11 NFL odds board.
Shoulda Kept Flutie
It’s getting harder and harder to justify betting the UNDER in any situation. Through Week 10 of the 2014 regular season, the OVER is 78-68 (53.42 percent), which means it’s been a profitable auto-bet all by itself. No fuss, no muss. But here at the ranch, we’re still busy trying to find the right times to bet the UNDER, and so far, it’s been a disaster. Our UNDER picks have gone 2-12-1 this year, compared to 9-4 for the OVER.
We’re still going to recommend the UNDER as our free NFL pick for Thursday night’s contest (8:30 p.m. ET, NFLN). No, it isn’t because of the threat of bad weather, which didn’t come through for us in Sunday night’s Bears-Packers game. We’re expecting clear skies and a warm night in Miami Gardens. And it isn’t because the total is astronomically high; the total has dipped slightly to 42 points, with 61 percent of bettors still pounding the UNDER as we go to press.
Nope, it’s much simpler than that: It’s the Bills and the Dolphins. You pretty much know what you’re going to get anytime these sad-sack AFC East franchises get together. Buffalo has won between four and seven games every year since Bledsoe was cut after the 2004 season. Miami had one good year in 2008 when Chad Pennington was healthy, but otherwise, the Fish haven’t had a winning season since 2003, which was also Fiedler’s last full season as their starter. It’s been the same QB carousel of journeymen veterans and dubious prospects for both teams for much of the past decade.
Back to the Grind
Meanwhile, we’ve seen both clubs trot out some very good defenses. The Dolphins (UNDER 5-4) have been in the Top 10 in fewest points allowed for four years now – they’re No. 5 this year. The Bills (UNDER 7-2) have been snakebitten by injuries on nearly an annual basis, but this season, they’re No. 7 in points allowed on defense. From an efficiency perspective, as mentioned in our NFL pick against the spread, Miami ranks No. 3 in defensive DVOA, while Buffalo is No. 4.
That’s a pretty lethal combination of solid defense and institutionally bad offense. It’d be nice if they were playing somewhere a little less tropical – say, Ralph Wilson Stadium. But all the main ingredients are in place for another low-scoring Bills-Dolphins game. We won’t blame you if you auto-bet the OVER anyway, but to blatantly steal yet another catchphrase, where’s the sportsmanship in that?
Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on UNDER 42.5 at 5Dimes