The Dolphins will spend more time in L.A. this week than the Chargers...For Survivor Pool Week #2, we only need to wade into the shallow end...
Point Blank – September 13, 2017
Power rating the Miami Dolphins Miami became a challenge the minute that Ryan Tannehill was injured, then become more difficult when Jay Cutler was signed, before finally Hurricane Irma clouded the picture, literally, even more.
As we know from closely charting sports history across several decades, extreme situations can lead to performance extremes. There are times in which a team gets distracted by their circumstances and vastly under-performs, while there can also be a special bonding that takes place through the events, and takes them to a higher level of performance. Hence the fascination with Miami this week, because this is one time in which I believe a silver lining to the dark cloud can be envisioned.
What does a week on the West Coast mean for the Dolphins?
Long trips are an occasional part of life in the NFL for teams that live in the Eastern or Pacific time zones, and while west-to-east is the toughest trip, because of the hours lost in the time zone adjustment, the length of an east-to-west flight is still a considerable headache inside of a prep week.
That is not an issue for the Dolphins. As part of their working around Hurricane Irma the team charter left for Los Angeles last Friday, and it wasn’t just the players involved in the traveling entourage, but their families as well, to get as many people as possible out of harm’s way. It wasn’t mandatory that all players were on that flight, and many opted to travel separately, but by the start of the work week all hands were on deck.
Since this is such a unique situation, and one in which I think there may be some market error, let’s dig a little more deeply. It starts with Adam Gase and the coaches turning their focus towards playing the Chargers before they boarded the plane, which not only offered some valuable extra time in terms of game planning, but it also meant scouting LAC on Monday night from the comforts of their hotel rooms.
As for putting it all into play, practice this week will be at the Dallas Cowboys facility in Oxnard, which is well-suited for the purposes at hand. And while there is a legitimate guessing game as to how in sync Cutler is with this offense (or in truth with any offense over his erratic NFL career), I believe that is factored into the line enough to work through the other intricacies of this matchup.
The Dolphins may be fine this week, and in fact might even play better under these particular circumstances. One of the prime issues of football handicapping to grasp is that the “home field advantage” has become a common phrase, but the “road team disadvantage” not so much. In truth the latter may out-weight the former in terms of scoreboard impact, visiting teams losing practice time because of their journeys, and spending one or two nights before the game in a hotel.
For Dolphins/Chargers there may neither be a disadvantage for the road team, nor any appreciable plus for the home side, the LAC issues having been noted here before – the city has not shown much passion for the team, with the two pre-season games only averaging 21,000 fans at the StubHub center. There may not be anything special about the home opener, and also note that even drawing in casual NFL fans will be a challenge, with the Rams kicking off just 20 minutes later across town in the Coliseum. Meanwhile instead of this being the usual game-day routine for the players and coaches, it is all new for the Chargers this Sunday.
Before I get to the market issues let me note something else that I believe is positive for Miami – the Dolphins get to return home after the game. Team president Tom Garfinkel announced yesterday that both Hard Rock Stadium and the team practice facility did not suffer any structural damage, and that should mean a load of relief in terms of the concentration levels of the players and coaches. The issue was that should the facilities not have been ready, the Dolphins were set to stay at the Greenbrier in West Virginia before playing the Jets next week, before then heading off to London to play the Saints. It would have mean a long stretch away from home and a rather historic, and awkward, road trip.
With that out of the way the focus can get down to football, and I will be putting #277 Miami (Sunday, 4:05 Eastern) into pocket. The value point for me is +4 or better, and there is +4.5 available across the landscape, with even some +5 for good shoppers.
I have these teams rated close to even, which makes the availability of the key “3” and “4” as win numbers for the Dolphins to be of such much value. I do not chart them with any of the usual road disadvantage, and I do not give LAC much boost at all for being at home. And in terms of freshness there are issues for a Chargers defense that was not only on the field for 68 snaps on Monday night, but had that happening at the altitude of Denver, and a kickoff time nearly two hours later than usual for MNF.
For all of the drama of the closing end-game gambit, where would the Chargers/Broncos result have landed if note for that rather fluky interception by Adrian Phillips with 10:44 remaining? It was 24-7 at the time, and it had indeed been a 24-7 game. But in a short cycle LAC got a pair of turnovers and benefitted from a missed Denver field goal, which was enough to make the final closer than it had to be.
Now on to the Survivor Pool, where there isn’t any kind of deep dive at all needed…
We only need to wade into the shallow end of the 2017 Survivor Pool this week
The opening to Survivor 2017 played out well enough, the Patriots taking a lot of folks down and the Houston Texans claiming a few as well. This week can be short and sweet because there is no real decision process going on – we will need to use the RAIDERS at some point, and this is the best setting there will be.
As sad as the Jets are in terms of offensive personnel, the real shame from Sunday’s takeaway was that they appeared to play as well as they could at Buffalo, yet were still throttled 23-11 in first downs and 408-214 in total offense by an average Bills team.
Where do we go with the Dodger cycle now?
Fading the Dodgers at the rather ridiculous market prices has been an automatic here of late, and there was a major window of opportunity last night, Buster Posey up in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and one out. But Kenley Jansen reached back to strike out both Posey and Nick Hundley, and Los Angeles got a badly-needed win for the psyche.
Even with the 0-11 slide having been broken I may be in play again; it will be up to the markets. They forced out yet another high price point to open, and there have already been trickles of LAD money, with the first -220 appearing. That is a lot given how much Yu Darvish has been laboring, with PPI counts of 19.0 or higher in four of his last five starts, and there is also the prospect of no Jansen this evening, after 29 pitches over multiple innings on Tuesday. I’ll call it +200 or better on the value meter, and if the markets open that up I will at least bite off a small piece.
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