Atlanta Falcons (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Miami Dolphins (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, August, 22 at 4:05 p.m. EST
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
TV: FOX/DTV 711
by Vesper Abadon, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Atl +1/Mia -1
Over/Under Total: 44.5
At the start of the season, the result of this game would have been a
forgone conclusion to most. The Atlanta Falcons have been
far and away the better team for the past decade, but who would have thought
the Miami Dolphins would be 2-0 headed into their home
opener in Week 3?
The Atlanta Falcons have been hurting literally as the list of injured players continue to mount. Fortunately for them, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan have remained relatively healthy. In fact, Jones was the star of the Falcons win over the St. Louis Rams last week by catching 11 passes for 182 yards, which included an 81-yard touchdown catch. Ryan ended up taking quite a few hits behind a lackluster offensive line, but he still managed to go 33 of 43 for 374 yards and two touchdowns.
Theres no denying the Falcons have a effective aerial assault, but they dont have a running game to compliment it. In fact, the Falcons have average just 62 yards per game (YPG) through the first two weeks, including just 36 yards last week. That was due in no small part to Steven Jackson getting injured.
That said, the Dolphins havent been faring much better on the ground. They have averaged just 60.5 YPG, though that was due in large part to an abysmal Week 1. Last week, the Fins got things pointed in the right direction as second-year running back Lamar Miller rushed 14 times for 69 yards and a touchdown in their win against the Cleveland Browns. Not great, but it was a big improvement.
Speaking of improving, high-profile wide receiver Mike Wallace, who had just one catch for 15 yards in Week 1, brought it last week as he caught nine passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. As expected, Wallace attracted a lot of attention from the defense which helped open the run game and allowed tight end Charles Clay and wide receiver Brian Hartline to each catch five passes for 109 yards and 68 yards respectively.
The man throwing them the ball is second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has went 47 of 72 for 591 yards and two touchdowns this season. The key to Miamis success hinges on Tannehill, and obviously hes been doing his part seeing as theyre 2-0. Even so, the other players need to step up as the next several weeks are the most grueling on their schedule.
These two teams have an interesting dichotomy as both are seemingly equal in the rush department, but in reality the Dolphins are headed up while the Falcons (due to injury) are headed down. As far as the passing game is concerned, the Falcons are best averaging 318 YPG, but the Fins arent far behind at 276 YPG.
Defensively the Falcons are giving up a whooping 420 YPG, while the Dolphins come in at 369.5 YPG. Interestingly, most of those yards are being given up through the air.
Vesper Abadons Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I dont expect the Falcons will be able to get much going on the ground. Not only are injuries holding them back, the Dolphins front seven are also among the best in the league. That will force the Falcons to take to the air, which we all know has the potential to be explosive.
Defensively the Dolphins will be able to focus on shutting down the passing game, but even so their secondary is so weak that Ryan and Jones might have a field day anyway. On the other side of the ball, I look for the Dolphins to stick to their tried and true method of using the passing game to open up things on the ground. If they can strike that balance, they should be able to keep pace with the Falcons high-octane offense.
The line in this game is thin, and since the Dolphins are at home theyre getting the slim advantage. Even though the Fins have done well in Miami, and will no doubt force the Falcons to wear their all-black uniforms to soak up the hot South Florida sun, I think the Falcons will come out on top. The Fins are just too vulnerable through the air, which just so happens to be the Falcons specialty.