How about Dan Campbell for NFL Coach of the Year? OK, it's a bit early to crown Miami's interim coach with that honor, but the team has major momentum entering Thursday at New England.
After an ugly Week 4 loss in London to the New York Jets, the Dolphins fired Coach Joe Philbin and, soon after, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle with the team at 1-3. Frankly, Philbin shouldn't have been brought back after the 2014 season. Most teams promote a coordinator as interim head coach but Miami went with Campbell, the tight ends coach -- he played tight end for four teams in the NFL. Why Campbell despite no head coaching experience? He's young and one of those intense, rah-rah guys. And that's what the Dolphins needed after showing no fire at all under Philbin. So far, so good. In Campbell's first game, the Dolphins went to Tennessee and smashed the Titans 38-10. Then last week, Miami was up 41-0 at the half against Houston before taking the foot off the gas in the second half and winning 44-26. Those are two bad teams so temper the enthusiasm a bit.
Might Campbell be a candidate for the full-time job? Obviously depends on how the team finishes. The AFC East title isn't going to happen as the Fins are already three games behind the unbeaten Patriots. Miami is +1600 on NFL odds to win the East. So it's wild card or bust. The good news is that Miami is tied in the loss column with the current holder of the No. 6 wild-card spot, Pittsburgh (4-3). Oakland is 3-3 along with Miami and No. 7 in the AFC standings. The Dolphins' schedule can be split into two chunks of five. The first is really tough. This game, followed by at Buffalo, at Philly, vs. Dallas (when Tony Romo due back) and at the Jets. The second five is much easier and all but one at home: vs. Baltimore, vs. NY Giants, at San Diego, vs. Indianapolis and vs. New England. Only the Giants and Pats have winning records among that group, and New England might have nothing to play for in Week 17.
***Dolphins vs. Patriots Thursday Night Betting Preview***
***Dolphins vs. Patriots Thursday Night ATS Pick***
***Dolphins vs. Patriots Thursday Night Total Pick***
***Patriots Player Props for Thursday Night Football***
Ryan Tannehill 'Over/Under' 24.5 Completions, 263.5 Passing Yards, 1.5 TD Passes, .5 INTs
Tannehill is taking more snaps under center under Campbell than he did under Philbin, who largely preferred his quarterback in the shotgun. Tannehill comes in off the best game of his career and perhaps the best we will see in the NFL this season. He completed 18 of 19 for 282 yards with four touchdowns (in the first 16 minutes), no turnovers and a perfect rating of 158.3 against the Texans. Three of those touchdown throws were of at least 50 yards, although to be fair it was largely yards after the catch. Miami became the first team in at least 75 years to score four offensive touchdowns of at least 50 yards in a half. Tannehill completed his first 18 throws against Houston and had completed his final seven the week before against Tennessee. That set the NFL record of 25 straight completions. Former Eagle Donovan McNabb held the old mark of 24 in 2004. Overall, Tannehill is completing 83.3 percent of his passes and has six touchdowns during Miami’s two-game winning streak. Tannehill is 2-4 in his career against Tom Brady and the Patriots and 0-3 at Gillette Stadium. Last year in a blowout loss in Foxboro, Tannehill did throw for 346 yards but also two picks. He has been picked off multiple times in three games this season and none in the other three. New England is No. 18 against the pass in yards allowed per game, but that might be a tad misleading as the Patriots have had a lot of big leads and teams were throwing early.
NFL Free Picks: 'UNDER' completions and yards, 'OVER' last two. Dolphins will try to eat clock and run the ball.
Lamar Miller O/U 67.5 Rushing Yards, 21.5 Receiving Yards
Another thing that Campbell has done is emphasize Miller more. He did very little in the first four games, not getting more than 13 carries in any of them and two with only seven. Two weeks ago against the Titans, he rushed 19 times for 113 yards and a score. And in last week's rout of Houston, Miller was a monster with 14 carries for 175 yards, including an 85-yard-touchdown, and three catches for 61 yards, including a 54-yard score. Both those TDs came in the second quarter. The only other player in NFL history with a rushing touchdown of at least 85 yards and a receiving one of at least 50 in the same game was ex-Titan Chris Johnson in 2009. New England is No. 13 against the rush this season.
NFL Free Picks: 'OVER' both.