On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins are hoping to stop the slide and come away with a much needed win. The only problem? They must do it against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Let's break down this matchup and see where the value lies.
Last week this game was a "pick em", but after the Dolphins laid an egg for the third straight week, it re-opened as -1.5 on Sunday. Steady money has come in on the road team which has moved the line to -2.75. You can grab -2.5 with a bit extra juice or take them at -3 at "even" odds. Personally, I'd play this either way, but if I can get under the key number I'll pay a few extra cents for it when it's affordable. I would have opened this game at -3.5 at the very least (odds from SBRforum).
Bye Weeks and Home/Road Dichotomies?
One of the things I noted on this game during the weekend was the fact that both teams were coming off periods of extended rest. The Seahawks though, had a full two weeks to regain their health and prepare for this game. Does this matter?
Thanks to our friends at Football Outsiders, it appears like it doesn't. Over the last 10 years, while home teams get a considerable bump in performance from two weeks off, road teams do not. That might seem a bit counter-intuitive since road teams get the same amount of rest, but the numbers don't lie. Keep this in mind the next time you hear an "expert" talking about the pros and cons of bye weeks.
The other thing these teams have in common beyond extended rest is their wild home-road dichotomies. Over the last five seasons, the Seahawks have had the biggest home/road differential ATS in the NFL. In contrast, the Dolphins have had the biggest road/home differential ATS in the league. The other teams on this list can be found here.
I'm not very big on trends, but these appear to have some rationale behind them and the same story is playing out this season. So far, Seattle is 4-0 ATS at home and 2-3 on the road. Miami is 1-3 at home, but 3-3 on the road. As far as I'm concerned, this is a non-factor in this game but let's also not forget what happened when the Dolphins hosted the Titans just two weeks ago. Ouch.
I probably don't spend as much time as I do breaking down QBs in these write-ups given how important they are to the game, but I can't overlook what is happening with these two guys.
Over the first month of the season I ripped Russell Wilson for his horrible performances. On the flip side, Ryan Tannehill was exceeding everyone's expectations. Yet, both have gone in completely different directions since. After the bye, Tannehill has had four poor games in a row. He's now ranked 29th in QB efficiency.
Meanwhile, Wilson has consistently climbed the charts and sits at 15th in the rankings. He was among the bottom dwellers this year, so to move up that much is a big sign of progress. Against the Jets he was 6 of 7 for 2 TDs and 4 first downs on New York's side of the field.
Miami's defense should have a pretty solid game here, but the same can't be said for their offense. They are badly outmatched on that side of the ball as Seattle's D doesn't have a single weak area. They excel against the pass and keep most teams to field goals. Frankly, I'll be shocked if they found a way to lose this game. I've upgraded this pick to one of my best bets of the week.
NFL Pick: SEA -2.5.