Miami Dolphins (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS)
NFL Week 7
Date and Time: Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Soldier Field
TV: CBS, DTV 710
by Vesper Abadon, Pro Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mia +3 /Chi -3
Over/Under Total: 49
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The Miami Dolphins are coming of a heartbreaking home loss to the Green Bay Packers, but theyve only themselves to blame. Sure, Aaron Rodgers played the part of star quarterback cool under pressure, but really it was a combination of bad coverage and even worse coaching that led to the Dolphins losing in the last three seconds of the game.
Head Coach Joe Philbin is catching a lot of heat for his game management, which included running the ball on third and long and calling a timeout when the Packers faced a fourth and 10, which they subsequently converted to keep their game-winning drive alive. Fin fans are understandably frustrated, and rightfully so given the teams inconsistency. One week they look like legitimate contenders like when they beat down the New England Patriots in Week 1and then in others they find ways to lose games they should clearly win. It just seems as if theyre never going to turn the corner.
The Dolphins enter Week 7 with the 16th-ranked offense averaging 353.2 yards per game (YPG). Their run game averages 136.2 YPG, which puts them 6th in the league. Thats because third-year back Lamar Miller has carried 63 times for 330 yards (5.2 Avg) and three touchdowns. Not too shabby considering he had to step up for Knowshon Moreno, who was injured back in Week 1. Moreno returned against the Packers but tore his ACL in the third quarter. It was the same ACL he tore back in 2011, and he wont be back this season as he was places on season-ending injured reserve.
Passing-wise the Dolphins average just 217 YPG, which puts them 25th in the league. Like Philbin, quarterback Ryan Tannehill is facing harsh criticism. Is he the future of the franchise? His 81.5 rating which comes after going 113 of 186 for 1,146 yards, eight touchdowns, and five interceptions doesnt do much to answer that question.
That said, Tannehill has been gelling well with wide receiver Mike Wallace, who has caught 25 passes for 313 yards (12.5 Avg) and four touchdowns, while rookie receiver Jarvis Landry has shown promise with 18 receptions for 186 yards (10.3 Avg) and a touchdown. However, one man who seems to be overlooked is Brian Hartline, who has caught 16 passes for 161 yards (10.1 Avg) and a touchdown. Not terrible numbers, but nowhere near on pace to eclipse 1,000 yards like he has the past two seasons.
Defensively the Dolphins are ranked 7th holding opponents to an average of 331.6 total YPG (221.6 passing YPG; 110 rushing YPG). Even still, theyre giving up an average of 24.8 points per game (PPG). Compare that to their opponents this week, the Chicago Bears, who are ranked 16th defensively allowing an average of 349.8 YPG (246.2 passing YPG; 103.7 rushing YPG) and 24 PPG.
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Offensively the Bears, who won went into the Georgia Dome last week and walked away with a 27-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons, are ranked 14th in the league averaging 370.2 YPG. That includes the 9th-best passing game and 20th rushing, averaging 266.5 and 103.7 rushing YPG respectively.
Last week, quarterback Jay Cutler, who is currently ranked the 11th-best QB in the league with a rating of 97.4, had a great game going 26 of 38 for 381 yards and a touchdown, while running back Matt Forte finally found the end zone on the ground not once, but twice. Forte enters Week 7 having carried 99 times for 399 yards (4.0 Avg) and two touchdowns, not to mention 46 receptions for 376 yards and a touchdown. He really is an all-around threat.
Forte may be the Bears leading receiver, but a slew of others are thriving as well including Alshon Jeffery (46 receptions for 376 yards and two touchdowns), Martellus Bennett (36 receptions for 364 yards and four touchdowns), and Brandon Marshall (25 receptions for 301 yards and five touchdowns).
Vespers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The loss to the Packers demoralized the Dolphins and the blame game started shortly thereafter. Theyre clearly in turmoil heading into Week 7, and its going to be tough to march into Soldier Field to take on a Bears team with momentum on their side.
Forte is rolling, and thatll force Miami to stack the box. As a result, the receiving corps should be able to run freely about the field, which will be made easier by the fact that the Fins cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Philip Wheeler dont match up well with Marshall and Jeffrey, both of who have a significant height advantage.
The Dolphins could very wheel bounce back with a dominating performance theyre that inconsistent but right now I think this is a team that is down and out. Dont get me wrong, theyll give the Bears a run for their money just like they did with the Packers, but in the end I like the Bears to cover the spread at home.