The Spread and Total
New England Patriots (-11, 47.5 O/U) at Miami Dolphins, courtesy of Bovada.
New England Patriots 10-2 SU (8-4 ATS); 1st AFC East
Miami Dolphins 5-7 SU (4-6-2 ATS); 4th AFC East
New England Patriots
T Marcus Cannon (ankle), out; LB Kyle Van Noy (calf), out; LB Trey Flowers (rib), questionable; WR Chris Hogan (shoulder), questionable; CB Stephon Gillmore (ankle), questionable; RB Mike Gillislee (illness), questionable; RB Dion Lewis (illness), questionable.
QB Matt Moore (foot), out; G Jermon Bushrod (foot), out; RB Damien Williams (shoulder), out; CB Cordrea Tankersley (ankle), doubtful; S Michael Thomas (knee), questionable.
Nov. 26, 2017 (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough): New England 35 Miami 17
Jan. 1, 2017 (Hard Rock Stadium, Miami): New England 35 Miami 14
Sep. 18, 2016 (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough): New England 31 Miami 24
Jan. 3, 2016 (Hard Rock Stadium, Miami): Miami 20 New England 10
Oct. 29, 2015 (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough): New England 36 Miami 7
Significant ATS Trends
The Patriots have covered in six straight games, and are on an eight-game SU win-streak.
The Dolphins are 1-4-2 ATS in their last seven games.
The Patriots are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as a double-digit favorite.
The Dolphins are 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight primetime games.
The total has gone OVER in seven straight Dolphins games.
From Weeks 8-10, Miami found itself ruining one primetime slot a week with its horribly inept offense. For the football fans that made it through that stretch without completely giving up on the game, I have some bad news: the Dolphins are back in the spotlight. After failing to put up a fight against fringe Wild Card teams in the Ravens and the Panthers, how bad will Miami look against the cream of the AFC crop, their divisional tormentors, the New England Patriots?
Just two weeks ago, we saw the Patriots easily dispatch the Dolphins 35-17 at Gillette Stadium, covering as 16-point favorites. New England did whatever it wanted offensively, but will be without the source of 12 points from that matchup, as red-zone favorite Rob Gronkowski serves a one-game suspension for his cheap shot on Tre’Davious White.
Without Gronk, expect the Pats to rely on their power run-game around the goal line. New England’s rushing attack has exploded over the last two weeks for 387 yards, and ranks sixth in DVOA entering Monday night. Rex Burkhead has taken over for Mike Gillislee as the team’s resident touchdown hawk, scoring four times in the last two outings.
As for Miami, though still technically alive in the playoff race, no one who looks at this team will see anything more than a disappointing outfit playing out the string. Offensively, they’ve never found a rhythm this season, with either Jay Cutler or Matt Moore. Even though they’ve been putting up more yards in the past few weeks, Miami can’t stop turning the ball over. They really have been in the Christmas spirit all year; their 23 giveaways rank third-worst in the league, and they haven’t had a turnover-free game since their first one of the season in Week 2.
While New England’s defense hasn’t caught up in DVOA — still ranked 29th overall — they’ve gotten back to last season’s look as the ultimate bend-don’t-break unit. Despite allowing 335 yards per game over their last eight, the Pats haven’t allowed a single opponent to break 20 points over that span. Opponents are averaging just under 12 points per game during the win-streak, meaning if New England gets near its 29 points-per-game average, this should be an easy cover.
Perhaps the only thing really working for Miami heading into this matchup is location. Though their stadium has gone through five different name changes since 2001, perhaps its best known moniker is “bringer of Tom Brady hard times.” While it’s no Mile High, Brady has a 7-8 career record in Landshark/Sun Life/Hard Rock/Whatever-It’s-Called stadium. Maybe that was brought on by a fearsome pass rush, once led by Jason Taylor and followed for years by the dominant duo of Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh? Now 40-years-old, Brady theoretically can’t survive many more big shots. Unfortunately for Dolphins fans, they were on the receiving end of most of the QB hits last time these teams played. New England racked up seven sacks and allowed just one in Week 12.
Outside of Suh stomping on Brady, Miami’s defense has no way of stopping this offense. They’re allowing opposing QBs to average a 97.8 passer rating, while also getting gashed on the ground for 116 yards per game.
Offensively, I’d say a vintage Cutler performance could keep this game close, but I’m pretty sure”vintage Cutler” is the street name for a four-interception night.
With a huge AFC clash looming next weekend, and a banged up New England team, this should shape up to be one of those economical, get-in get-out Patriots wins. Running up the score won’t be on Bill Belichick’s agenda; instead, the Pats run game should keep the clock moving and shorten the night, making the UNDER a wise play. As for the spread, it may seem too large in what figures to be a run-heavy game, but as you saw in the trends, the Pats get it done as a big favorite.
Pick: Patriots (-11) and UNDER (47.5).