Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens Betting Odds and Pick to Cover the Point Spread

Miami Dolphins (4-3 SU, 5-2 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (5-2 SU, 3-3-1
ATS), Week 9 NFL, 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, November 7, 2010, M&T Bank
Stadium, Baltimore, Md., TV: CBS

by Badger of

Betting Odds: Mia +5/Bal -5
Over/Under Total: 40.5

The Miami Dolphins have turned into the road warriors of the NFL this
season, but this week their task will be a tough one when they travel
to M&T Bank Field in Maryland to take on the Baltimore Ravens in a
big AFC showdown on CBS.

Miami continued their undefeated 4-0 season on the road with another
huge win last week in Cincinnati, 22-14. Kicker Dan Carpenter drilled
five field goals and the Dolphins unheralded defense limited the
Bengals to just 262 yards of total offense in a game that was more
lopsided than the score indicates.

Next up for the Dolphins is well-rested Ravens team coming off a bye
week. Prior to the bye the Ravens were taken to the edge by the
winless Buffalo Bills at home at M&T, winning on a 38-yard Billy
Cundiff field goal in overtime, 37-34. With a week off to address the
reasons why the Bills were able to tack 514 total yards of offense on
the normally strong Ravens defense, Baltimore will have to show
theyve tightened the screws to get past Miami in what could end up a
defensive showdown.

The folks out in Las Vegas that set the betting lines seem to think
the Dolphins may have met their match this week though, opening the
Sunday early game with Baltimore as 5.5-point favorites. The early
action at the window has been mostly on the Dolphins, driving the
point spread down to just 5-points at a majority of the offshore
sportsbooks on the Web.

The over/under total opened at 40 at most sportsbooks and has already
moved up the hook to 40.5 despite the two strong defenses set to take
the field.

When handicapping this game you have to marvel at how similar in
scheme these two teams are overall.

On offense both teams feature multiple running backs that try to
force the action on the ground in the running game, and then catch
defenses cheating into the box on play-action passes. The problem is
that both quarterback have had issues at times taking advantage
downfield in the passing game.

The Dolphins use Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to loosen things up
for quarterback Chad Henne on the ground (111.3 ypg 16th), but
Henne hasnt always been efficient (8 TD, 7 INT) or accurate enough
(63.3 comp. %) to take advantage of the stacked defenses.

The same can be said for the Ravens duo of Ray Rice and Willis
(114.9 ypg 12th), but Joe Flacco has been hot (10 TD) and
cold (59.3 %, 6 INT) all season long and has struggled to take
advantage of stacked defenses as well.

The sledding will get tougher this week too because both defenses
come into the game built to stop the run first and get offenses into
third-and-long situations where their pass rushers can get off the
line. Both defenses enter the game ranked in the top-10 in yards
allowed (Miami 309.4 ypg 8th; Balt. 313.9 ypg 10th), but the
Ravens have been struggling to get off the field lately whereas the
Dolphins come into Sundays game riding a wave of momentum.

So something has to give this week, making this game come down to
execution since both teams will try and force the action against
defenses built to resist that same action.

Baltimore is riding a two-game winning streak over the Dolphins in
head-to-head meetings, including the last time they met in the
2008-09 playoffs that ended in a 27-9 Raven victory. The previous
Raven win was a 27-13 decision earlier that same year in the regular
season, and although both games were played in Miami the Ravens were
still able to cover the point spread (as 3-point underdogs in the
regular season, 3.5-point favorites in the playoffs).

The last time these two played in Baltimore also ended in a Raven
victory (30-23), but that was back in the Kyle Boller days in
Baltimore so were starting to compare apples to oranges.

All of the Dolphins fans will be happy to note the few strong betting
trends, including the road team being 4-1 ATS in the last five
meetings and the underdog also going 4-1 ATS over the same stretch.

The over/under trends are a little more confusing. The Dolphins have
played under the total in 10 of their last 12 road games as the
listed underdog, but the over has actually cashed in five of their
last eight games against an AFC opponent. The Ravens have played
under the total in 11 of their last 17 games versus an AFC foe, but
the over is actually 5-1 in their last six games at home in M&T Bank

Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Consider me a believer in the Dolphins and their
success on the road. The Ravens offense isnt built to blow teams
out, and Im hoping they have a little rust after the week off. Im
taking Miami plus the 5-points here.