Patriots vs. Dolphins Week 15 NFL Picks

Jason Lake

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 1:44 PM GMT

That pesky Tom Brady just doesn’t know when to quit. But his comeback wizardry hasn’t gotten the New England Patriots to the NFL betting window, and the Miami Dolphins are on a 4-0 ATS hot streak.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to December 9 inclusive:

35-29-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

8-14-1 Totals

Tom Brady is the greatest “game manager” quarterback in the history of the NFL.

Ah, that feels so good to say. I don’t mean it so much as a backhanded compliment toward Brady as a defense of game managers, who as a group have been unfairly maligned for being merely competent at their jobs. But make no mistake: Brady is a game manager QB, albeit the most competent among his class.

That’s why fading the New England Patriots (10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS) has been profitable this year. And now that TE Rob Gronkowski is apparently done for the season with a torn-up knee, the Pats will be even more vulnerable against the football spreads when they visit the Miami Dolphins (7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS) this Sunday. Our Week 15 NFL lines have the Dolphins getting 2.5 points with a total of 45.5; the early consensus is almost 60 percent on the side of New England.

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Team Terrific

So let’s get back to my original statement about Brady. In case you’re new to betting on the NFL, and you haven’t been following along this year, the Patriots looked like prime fade candidates going into 2013 because of the nearly total annihilation of their receiving corps. Brady’s highest passer rating in his first six years as a starter, which included three Super Bowl victories, was 92.6. His closest statistical comparison through six NFL seasons: Mark Brunell.

Brady’s passer rating shot up to 117.2 in 2007, after Brady was surrounded by the likes of Randy Moss (23 TD catches that year) and Wes Welker (112 catches, eight TDs). This year? Back down to 88.3. Brady’s still masterful enough at his craft to get the most out of the talent around him, but now that Gronk is injured, his top two receivers are Julian Edelman (76 catches) and Danny Amendola (41 catches), who’s playing through a groin injury.

And there’s not much left in the cupboard behind those guys. The much-maligned rookie combo of Kenbrell Thompkins (32 catches) and Aaron Dobson (35 catches) was injured and inactive for last week’s stunning 27-26 comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns, who cashed in anyway as 9.5-point road dogs. New England is scraping by at 3-1 SU and 1-3 ATS in its last four games, all three wins requiring Brady to weave his comeback magic. Who does he think he is, Tim Tebow?

Also make sure to check out our:

NFL Picks: Week 15 Betting Odds Report

Ever Been to Sea, Tommy?

Fading the Patriots in this situation is simple enough. It would help if their opponents on Sunday afternoon (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) were reliable follow candidates, and the Dolphins appear to fit the bill after beating the football lines in four straight games. But this has been a frustrating rollercoaster ride for Miami supporters. The Fish won their first three games SU and ATS, then dropped four straight, only to rebound at 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS in their last six.

Most of those games have been close ones, too. A few points here and there, a tipped pass in either direction, and Miami could easily be at the bottom or the top of the AFC East. Football Outsiders has the Dolphins right in the middle when it comes to efficiency, ranking them No. 17 overall (No. 17 offense, No. 14 defense, No. 25 special teams) heading into Week 14. The Patriots were No. 5 overall (No. 6 offense, No. 16 defense, No. 4 special teams).

Funny how the Dolphins have rallied since the Richie Incognito Incident, too. Things could easily have fallen apart on the offensive line, but they’ve circled the wagons instead, allowing just 11 sacks in their last four games compared to 37 during their first nine games. Ryan Tannehill (84.0 passer rating) suddenly looks like a viable NFL quarterback again. Brady-like, even.

NFL Pick: Take the Dolphins +2.5 at Ladbrokes