NFL Picks: Falcons vs. Dolphins in Week 3

Jason Lake

Thursday, September 19, 2013 5:40 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013 5:40 PM UTC

In the wild, the battle between bird (the Atlanta Falcons) and fish (the Miami Dolphins) is usually won by the bird. If only betting on the NFL were that easy.

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All hail the Miami Dolphins! They’re one of three teams to start the 2013 NFL betting season at 2-0 SU and ATS. The others: the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. But Miami is the only one of the three with back-to-back upsets on the road, over the Cleveland Browns (–2.5) and the Indianapolis Colts (–1).

The Dolphins haven’t taken over the national conversation like Denver, and their fans won’t make your ears bleed like they do in Seattle, but the Flying Fish have shortened their Super Bowl XLVIII odds from 66-1 to 25-1. That’s just a shade behind the 18-1 Atlanta Falcons, who go into Sunday’s matchup (4:05 p.m. ET, FOX) with Miami as 2.5-point road dogs.


Cover Your Eyes

Story checks out. If we adopt the modern concept of home-field advantage being worth 2.5 points, we can say the football betting public values the Falcons and the Dolphins pretty much equally. But that hardly seems right. Since when does anyone like the Dolphins? I’d say not since 2000, when Dan Marino retired and Jay Fiedler took his place.

Then there was A.J. Feeley. And Gus Frerotte. And Joey Harrington. And Cleo Lemon. And Chad Pennington (for one year, when they went from 1-15 to 11-5). And Chad Henne. And Matt Moore. Hey, don’t forget John Beck! So, it’s understandable if people are slow to warm up to Ryan Tannehill, Miami’s current source of quarterback angst. But at least things are looking up after Tannehill out-dueled Andrew Luck on Sunday.

Or Did He?

Football Outsiders would like to have a word with you. Yes, if you look at the box score, Tannehill was 23-of-34 for 319 yards, one touchdown pass, zero interceptions, and a QB rating of 107.4. That’s like 1984 Dan Marino. And yes, Luck was 25-of-43 for 321 yards, one TD, one pick, and a 79.7 QB rating. That’s like, well, 2012 Ryan Tannehill.

The advanced stats tell a different story. Football Outsiders has Luck ranked No. 14 among Week 2 starting quarterbacks in total Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement with 27 DYAR. Tannehill is seven spots down at No. 21 with minus-4 DYAR. The difference was in the running department; Luck carried the ball four times for 38 yards, while Tannehill picked up a grand total of one yard on his four carries. Tannehill was also sacked five times and committed three fumbles (one lost). In sports betting, you have to take the bad with the good.

Bird is Not the Word

Down in the Dirty South, you don’t hear fingernails being chewed over the Falcons. They’re 1-1 SU and ATS after a competitive 23-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints (–3.5 at home) and a solid 31-24 win over the St. Louis Rams (+4 away). Our early consensus reports show 64 percent of bettors lining up on Atlanta’s side for Sunday’s matchup. Bird beats Fish.

Unless it’s a catfish scooping up a lame duck. Which is apparently how the sharps see this one developing, because those 36 percent of Miami bettors have managed to move the NFL betting lines from a 'Pick ‘em' at the open (with Atlanta the slight dog at +100). The Falcons were already pegged as a fade team this year based on Pythagorean wins and all that good stuff. Now they’ve put top LB Sean Weatherspoon on temporary injured reserve, and RB Steven Jackson is out of the lineup with a thigh injury. I’ll fade that for a dollar.

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NFL Pick: Take the Dolphins –2.5 (–110) on the spread at William Hill

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