If you’re looking for a reliable team for your NFL picks, the New England Patriots are about as good as it gets. They’ve covered five of their last six games, with the wayward Miami Dolphins next on the menu.
Jason’s record after Week 13: 34-46-1 ATS, 17-20-1 Totals
There are no sure-fire football picks. But the New England Patriots have been very kind to bettors ever since the end of September. The Pats have won eight of their last nine games at 7-2 ATS; their most recent payday was at the expense of the San Diego Chargers, who fell 23-14 Sunday night at 4-point home dogs. Score one for the good guys, although it wasn’t nearly the shootout we were expecting.
There’s not much point in expecting anything one way or the other from the Miami Dolphins. They’re trapped in something of a zigzag pattern at 3-3 SU and ATS in their past six games; on Sunday, they lost 28-13 to the Baltimore Ravens (+3 away), running the ball just 16 times despite the absence of Ravens run-stuffer Haloti Ngata. At least the zigzag points toward a win this week when the Dolphins visit the Patriots in a Sunday matinee (1:00 p.m ET, CBS). The NFL odds disagree, opening New England as a 7-point chalk and moving to –8 at press time.
The Hold Steady
Pretty much everything we’ve already said about the Patriots (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) holds up. They played very well in San Diego, holding the Chargers to 216 total yards by taking advantage of their patchwork offensive line. No injuries of note for the Patriots coming out of that contest, either. Pro Football Reference has New England ranked No. 1 in the league at plus-12.3 SRS.
The Dolphins (7-6 SU and ATS) check in at plus-6.4 SRS, which suggests they might be undervalued in this particular matchup by a half-point or so. But which Miami team is going to show up on Sunday? Will it be the one that blanked the Chargers (+3 away) 37-0 in Week 9? Or will it be the one that barely beat the New York Jets (+6.5 at home) 16-13 two weeks ago?
Unfortunately for the Dolphins, they didn’t escape their game against Baltimore unscathed. Safety Louis Delmas suffered a torn right ACL and is out for the remainder of the season. Delmas had been playing well for Miami after five years with the Detroit Lions, where he was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2010 and 2011. He had 61 tackles and a pick-six for the Dolphins this year.
This is a big blow for a secondary that already lost CB Will Davis to a torn ACL in Week 11. However, the Dolphins defense still ranked No. 7 in the league (No. 4 pass, No. 14 rush) in defensive efficiency going into the Ravens matchup. They also ranked No. 1 in defending against tight ends, which we got an early look at during the season opener – Miami held Rob Gronkowski to four catches on 11 targets for 40 yards (including a TD) in a 33-20 victory, cashing in as a 3.5-point home dog.
Ryanair Bankruptcy Watch
The bigger question for Miami right now is on offense. As well as QB Ryan Tannehill (92.6 passer rating) has played this year, and despite his decent arm strength, the Dolphins haven’t developed much of a deep passing game. It shows up in Tannehill’s efficiency ratings: He was No. 16 among starting QBs in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) going into Week 14, behind Arizona’s Drew Stanton.
Conveniently enough for us, capping Miami’s offensive potential like this has allowed our NFL pick to be the UNDER to go 7-1 in the past eight games. The UNDER is also on a nice 3-0 mini-run for the Patriots, and we’re looking at totals as high as 48 points on the Week 15 NFL odds board. Discretion is the better part of handicapping.
Free NFL Pick: Take the UNDER