Miami Dolphins (7-4 SU, 5-4-2 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (6-5 SU, 5-5-1 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 1:00 PM EST
Where: M&T Bank Stadium
TV: CBS, DTV: 706
by Chad Holloway, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:MIA +3/BAL -3
Over/Under Total: 41
The Miami Dolphins are one of 10 teams in the NFL with 7+ wins. Of those, they are largely considered the worst, and rightfully so. Sure, they are on a six-game win streak – tied with the New York Giants and only behind the Dallas Cowboys (10 in a row) – but many of those wins were barely squeaked out against weak competition (last week’s 31-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers comes to mind).
With the New England Patriots expected to win the AFC East, the Dolphins best shot at the postseason is via one of two Wildcard spots. Another team who might need it are the Baltimore Ravens, who are currently tied atop the NFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers at 6-5. As such, the Week 13 matchup between the Dolphins and Ravens, who won last week 19-14 over the Cincinnati Bengals, have huge AFC Playoff implications.
The Ravens enter the week with the 24th-overall offense averaging 334.2 total yards per game (YPG) and 19.8 points per game (PPG). Their passing game averages 246.4 YPG, which puts them 18th in the NFL, while their rushing game is 28th averaging just 87.8 YPG. Defensively, the Ravens are second best in the league holding opponent to an average of 297.8 total YPG (222.9 passing YPG and 74.9 rushing YPG) and 18.3 PPG.
As for the Dolphins, they boast a similar offense (25th in the league) averaging 332.4 total YPG and 22.6 PPG. Their passing game is 28th averaging 216.4 YPG, while their rushing game is sixth in the NFL averaging 116 YPG. Defensively, the Dolphins rank 20th holding opponents to an average of 361.9 total YPG (229.7 passing YPG and 132.2 rushing YPG) and 21.8 PPG.
One of the biggest reasons for the Dolphins recent success is the emergence of their running game. Unfortunately for them, running back Jay Ajayi must face off against the NFL’s best rushing defense on the road. It’s not going to be pretty. That means quarterback Ryan Tannehill is going to need to be effective through the air, but without a run game to open things up, don’t expect long shots down the field to Kenny Stills.
Instead, look for shorter passes to Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker, who’ll both need to bring it if they’re going to move the ball against the Ravens. Fortunately for Parker, who left last week’s game with a back injury, early signs point to him suiting up.
Chad Holloway's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: It’s hard not to jump onto the Dolphins bandwagon, but the truth is at 7-4 they appear to be better than they really are. The emergence of Ajayi gave the team new life after a 1-4 start, but I don’t expect him to be much of a factor against the Ravens’ stout defense. I also don’t expect Tannehill and company to get the job done through the air. The Dolphins will struggle much more against the Ravens than the other way around. I like the Ravens to cover the spread at home.
Meanwhile, this should be a low-scoring affair if history is any indication. When they met last season, the Dolphins won 15-13, while the season before that it was the Ravens walking away with the “W” 28-13. I predict we’ll see similar points and recommend betting the under.
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