The Dolphins look reborn with their new head coach as they travel to meet their divisional foes, New England. Let’s review the NFL odds & see if we can’t find the sharp side for our NFL picks.
Miami Dolphins (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS)
What a difference a coach makes. When the dust settled after Week 4 the spectacularly disappointing Miami Dolphins fired good guy but underachieving head coach Joe Philbin and replaced him with drill sergeant Dan Campbell. Since that time the results have been stunning. The Fins came back from their bye week to stomp the Titans in Tennessee 38-10, proving the NFL odds makers had the wrong favorite because this was a whole new team. Last week Miami hosted the Texans and gave them a good ol’ fashioned 44-26 Texas-sized ass whoopin’ proving that their thrashing of Tennessee was no fluke.
The turnaround has been profound under new coach Dan Campbell with Ryan Tannehill laser-locked completing his first 18 attempts and four touchdown passes all within the first 16 minutes of play on Sunday. The game was well out of hand by the half with the Dolphins holding a 41-0 lead rendering the second half just a formality. Tannehill ended the contest with 282 yards on 18-of-19 passing, four touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating. But he didn’t do it alone and was helped by the sterling efforts of Jarvis Landry (5-83-2), Rishard Matthews (3-75-1) and Lamar Miller (3-61-1). And in fact Miller had a breakout game on the ground carving up the Texans’ defense for 175 yards on 14 carries and one rushing touchdown to go along with his TD catch.
New England Patriots (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS)
Tom Brady just gets it done. No matter how dire the circumstances or what time is left on the clock Tom Terrific overcomes and conquers. Sunday was just the latest chapter in his storied legacy. The New England Patriots faced off against the top defense in the league and still managed to put up 30 points despite a case of the dropsies by Patriots receivers, no more so than recently activated Brandon LaFell. It was 11 drops in total that prevented a cover for all those who included the Patriots in their NFL picks. Brady overcame a 20-16 fourth-quarter deficit by completing 14-of-17 passes including touchdown strikes to Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski to seal the deal 30-23.
The Patriots are clicking but there are a few chinks in the armor. Brandon LaFell was an absolute mess in his return. He was targeted eight times and had six drops with the onus being squarely on the receiver not the passer in terms of who was to blame. In addition the Pats’running game is virtually non-existent. When Tom Brady, who reminds many of a giraffe when he’s in full gait, gets 15 of a total of 16 yards rushing yards it is pretty fair to say the offense has become one-dimensional.
Here’s a stat that may blow your mind. The Patriots dropped back to pass on 90.9 percent of their offensive plays against the New York Jets which proved to be the highest percentage of any team during the past 10 seasons. Over the course of the last decade the Patriots are 4-0 when at least 80 percent of their plays are drop-backs. All other teams have a combined record of 3-109. Who needs running backs?
***Dolphins vs. Patriots Thursday Night Betting Preview***
***Dolphins vs. Patriots Thursday Night Total Pick***
***Dolphins Player Props for Thursday Night Football***
***Patriots Player Props for Thursday Night Football***
The Pats rank first in scoring, averaging 35.5 per game and just hung 30 on the stingiest defense in the league. They rank second in passing yards but 31st in the rushing department. What makes matters worse is that Dion Lewis, their scat-back who replaced Shane Vereen, is still out and his status is unknown as of this writing. That leaves the Pats with the sledgehammer Legarrette Blount who gets tough, short yardage but lacks the break-away speed of the thoroughbred backs. James White, Brandon Bolden and Travaris Cadet round out the backfield but perhaps only Bolden resembles the typical all-purpose back who gets 15 or so carries and can keep the chains moving.
Miami is on a high no doubt and they possess a better offense than the Jets. New York pretty much had their way against New England’s bend-but-don’t-break secondary through the air but their rushing attack was well contained by a stout Patriots’ defensive front. Where New York rendered the Patriots ground game impotent with their number one ranked run stop unit the Dolphins are not nearly as effective as their 30th ranked rushing defense attests. The Jets possess the 4th ranked passing defense while Miami clocks in at 14th.
Bottom line here is that the Pats should put up monstrous points and be far more multi-faceted against Miami than they were against the Jets. Miami will get on the scoreboard but New England’s front seven is among the best and if they get to Tannehill it’s game over. I believe they will.
NFL Pick: Play the Patriots -7 (-120) at BetOnline