Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-8 SU, 5-6-2 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: Sunday, December 16, 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
TV: CBS/DTV 711
by Vesper Abadon, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Jax +7/Mia -7
Over/Under Total: 37
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This week’s battle of Florida teams has little to offer as far as Playoff implications are concerned, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be entertaining. Both the 2-11 Jacksonville Jaguars and 5-8 Miami Dolphins are in a rebuilding phase, and this week the former will travel downstate to take Ryan Tannehill and company.
Traditionally the Dolphins prevail over the Jaguars, but the waters are muddied this week as both squads are fairly balance. For instance, the Jaguars begin the week with the 31st-ranked offense, averaging 282.9 yards per game (YPG) including 200.8 passing YPG and 82.2 rushing YPG, while the Dolphins are slightly better in the 29th spot, averaging 310.6 YPG (203.5 passing YPG & 107.2 rushing YPG).
As you can see, the two teams are especially balanced through the air. The aforementioned Tannehill has went 227 of 396 for 2,709 yards, eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his rookie year, which is good enough for a 72.5 QB rating. On the flip side, the Jaguars’ Chad Henne, who Tannehill actually replaced in South Florida, has supplanted Blaine Gabbert as the starter and has done an admirable job going 94 of 182 for 1,217 yards, eight touchdowns, five interceptions and a 76.2 rating.
On the receiving end of all those passes, at least for the Jaguars, has been Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. The former has been having a great season, but won’t be a factor in this weekend’s game as he’s currently out with an injury. As far as Blackmon’s concerned, he’s caught 45 passes for 614 yards (13.6 Avg) and three touchdowns. For the Dolphins, Brian Hartline and Devone Bess have been Tannehill’s primary targets. Hartline, who’s contract is up after this season, is having a career year with 62 receptions for 925 yards (14.9 Avg), while Bess has 61 catches for 778 yards (12.8 Avg); however, both men only have one touchdown pass apiece.
Shorts isn’t the only superstar hurt for the Jaguars as Maurice Jones-Drew has been out the better part of the season with a foot sprain; as such, the team boasts a dreadful 29th-ranked rushing game. On the flip side, Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas have a combined 1,110 rush yards, giving the Dolphins the 19th-best rushing attack. Bush, who has 791 of those yards, is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, while Thomas a middling 3.5 yards.
Another area where the Dolphins outperform the Jaguars is on the defensive side of the ball. The Fins are currently ranked 19th in the league, holding opponents to an average of 352.7 YPG (250.6 passing YPG/102.1 rushing YPG), while the Jaguars are second worst in the league allowing an average of 394.5 YPG (248.8 passing YPG/145.7 rushing YPG).
Vesper Abadon’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Jaguars, who are a young team, were eager to move forward under a new owner and coach, but those plans have been derailed due to multiple injuries. If MJD and Shorts had stayed healthy, they’d be better than 2-11 and have a much better chance of winning this game.
As it is, the Jaguars’ stagnant running game will have a hard time moving the ball against the Dolphins’ front seven, while the latter’s secondary should be more than prepared to contend with their former quarterback. The line is fairly big for the Fins, who don’t tend to win by much, but it’s not outrageous. They’ll be able to move the ball through the air and on the ground against the Jags’ atrocious defense, which will result in plenty of scoring opportunities. It’s not often I like the Fins to win by a touchdown, but this is one instance that I do.
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