Three teams with historically positive NFL reputations through the years and who have made nice strides lately and had nice 2016 seasons may be in for choppier and more frustrating 2017 campaigns with opponents now gunning for them.
There are many reasons to be down on the Dolphins right about now. Last season, Miami went 10-6 despite allowing 17 points more than they scored (363 PS-380 PA), the byproduct of playing in the AFC East where they had to face the Patriots twice but also went 4-0 in divisional games against the paltry Jets and disappointing Bills. The Fish (8-7-2 ATS) did upset the Seahawks in Week 1 and did beat Big Ben and the Steelers last season but the Won-Loss Record is deceiving and the Schedule this year looks fun in the beginning but scary as hell from that point forward. Send help. Then there is the strange reality this team will be quarterbacked by a man (Jay Cutler) ready to call it a career and become an announcer until starter Ryan Tannehill (Knee) injured himself in practice, the same day that Pro Bowl RB Jay Ajayi suffered a Concussion in practice and starting LG Ted Larsen (Biceps) suffered a nasty injury which will leave him sidelined half the season, meaning whoever ends up getting the bulk of the time at QB, likely Bears-castoff Cutler to begin, will possibly be exposed much on his blind side on the pass rush with little experience at the LG spot. (Is there an Over/Under as to when Cutler will announce his return to the booth that he never got to yet?)
So the Dolphins (+2 TO Margin in 2016) quickly plugged backup Kraig Urbik in at Left Guard, but he hurt his (Knee) forcing the team to have to go to a third-stringer and an all-out competition for the starting spot. And with a Week 1 opener on Sept. 10 against the dangerous Buccaneers against the dangerous Buccaneers creeping closer—and a game which has seen a favorite-flip since the devastating Tannehill injury —this has to make the Dolphins’ brass really nervous...and they’re not even wearing shoulder pads. HC Adam Gase (8-7-2 ATS) and Miami went 10-6 in 2016 and made the Playoffs but could go 6-10 in 2017 should the Bills be better than we all think and some presumed Wins be actual Losses. With Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Devante Parker, whomever—Cutler or able backup Matt Moore—is QB will have some really targets but with a starting QB and LG hurt on the same day and a Schedule bottom-heavy with doom and opponents likely hungry for their own Wins in order to make the Playoffs, this could be a long season in Miami Gardens.
Dallas Cowboys: Not So Fast Bubba, This Young Team May Still Be Its Own Worst Enemy...
It’s always good for the NFL when America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys are good and that’s the welcome feeling in Big D these days after the club drafted two of the best young Offensive Skill Position players in quite some time in the same year—QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott—in last season’s 2016 NFL Draft. But Ohio State-product and NFL Rushing Yards leader Elliott (1,631) has been suspended 6 games for violating the league’s conduct policy and will miss Dallas’s first 6 games (NYG, @DEN, @AZ, LAR, GB, @49ers), although the 22-year-old has appealed the suspension. With that reality, Prescott and RB Darren McFadden will have to try to be the running game early on, meaning the Cowboys—without backup Tony Romo now—may be an injury away from totally freaking out and putting much pressure on the Dallas Defense. Have you heard this story before? And this may be a good thing for Cowboys Unders (10-7 in 2016) with the Dallas Defense so improved.
One very good thing for Owner and GM Jerry Jones, HC Jason Garrett (50-55-2 ATS) and the Cowboys though is the Regular Season schedule, almost assuring Dallas will make the Postseason one way or another with two divisional games each against the questionable Giants, Eagles and Redskins and a Schedule this year which sees NFC West beige-boys the Rams and 49ers as well as a date with Philip Rivers and the recently moved Chargers on it. That’s nine winnable games. So the Cowboys could and should maybe have double-digit Wins and capture the NFC East again but Point Spreads will likely to be bit inflated still with Dallas being such a popular public team, and, as discussed, looking at Dallas Unders—18-9 L27 games overall—may be the more stealthy and ultimately profitable route. And a we mentioned and picked in our “3 Teams Who May Disappoint” assignment, look for Larry Fitzgerald and the hopeful Cardinals to possibly upset the Cowboys at Home in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale in Week 3, despite the large number of Dallas fans who will surely be in attendance. Garrett (4-10 ATS vs. NFC East as Home Favorite) and the Cowboys have gone 2-1 (54 PF-50 PA) in NFL Preseason and open the Regular Season in Week 1 with an NFC East showdown with the Giants in what would be a tough Loss for the hosts against an opponent who traditionally has played them pretty well in Big D and a game which has been down from its opening 5½ due to the subsequent Elliott Suspension news.
Oakland Raiders: Home Is Where the Money Is?
Knowing you have to move is always a bitch and that almost invisible handicapping reality will be with this franchise until it comes here to Las Vegas, and then there will be more growing (and settling) pains. Luckily for Derek Carr and Oakland, it plays in a division (AFC West) where another one of the other four teams will also be going through Moving and Settling realities in the Chargers bouncing up the Pacific Coast from San Diego to Los Angeles this season—and in a state (California)—where the Rams have also recently relocated, meaning one day in the not-so-distant Future, La La Land will have two NFL teams and the cities of Oakland and San Diego will have zero. Put that weirdness in your pipe and smoke it. Sebastian Janikowski and Oakland have gone 0-2 so far in NFL Preseason play (31 PS-44 PA) and will going for its first win at AT&T Stadium against the Cowboys in Preseason Week 3 action on Saturday.
Looking at the schedule, Khalil Mack and the improving Raiders open up play on Sunday, Sept. 10 in Week 1 at Tennessee against Marcus Mariota and the Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville in a game the Silver and Black can definitely win after performing so poorly—both SU and ATS—in the ET and CT Time Zones in prior seasons. Quite possibly the biggest nemesis for stud WRs Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Oakland, is a team that won’t be moving anywhere soon, the Chiefs who have two decent QBs now, a solid Defense and a nice Home-field Advantage at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The Chiefs have beaten the Raiders 5 straight times SU, covering ATS 4 of those 5 AFC West Regular Season meetings. And should Denver (9-7 SU/ATS in 2016) improve, this could be a frustrating season for Oakland which will need consistency and healthiness from Carr and the Defense to get to the AFC Championship Game. Easier said than done.2017 NFL TEAM WIN TOTALS PICK: Dolphins Under 7½ -150 Best Line Offered: at BetOnline