Miami Dolphins vs. Cleveland Browns Pick ATS
Miami Dolphins (2-8 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (4-6 SU, 3-6-1 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 1PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Point Spread: MIA +10.5/CLE -10.5 (WagerWeb)
Over/Under Total: 44
The Miami Dolphins come to FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon for a matchup with the Cleveland Browns in an AFC battle. Miami saw an end to their brief two-game winning streak on Sunday, losing to the Bills, 37-20. They look for better this week as double-digit dogs against a Cleveland team that has won two in a row, including a 21-7 win over a surging Steelers team last Thursday. Who can get the cover on Sunday?
Weird Week for Cleveland
What happened last Thursday was typical of Cleveland’s fortunes this season, as not a lot has gone right. Just as they were putting the finishing touches on a nice win, getting some wind in their sails with their second straight win, and finally building momentum, it all came crashing down with the Myles Garrett helmet-clubbing incident. And losing their best player on defense can’t help, as they will also be without Larry Ogunjobi, a valued defensive tackle. They will be without their two best pass-rushers for this game. The long week might be coming at the right time, but it’s still hard to spin out of all that feeling altogether positive.
With Miami, you have a rebuilding team that has sent their best players packing to other teams. They’re supposed to be bad. With the Browns, you have a team where their optimists have already lost a lot of money this season. Other than this two-game little spurt, not much has gone right. Baker Mayfield has more picks than touchdowns. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry have combined for four TDs. A defense littered with top picks and high-profile signings has been a bottom-half unit. And other than Nick Chubb at running back, the sources of optimism have been minimal. Against a Miami run-defense that can’t stop much, Chubb could be massive in this matchup.
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Miami Still Coming On?
Last week was a letdown for the Dolphins in the 17-point loss to the Bills. Leading up to that game, however, we saw a ‘Fins bunch win two in a row while covering five straight spreads—not too shabby. Their offense is hardly a complete one, and they’re pretty deep in the barrel as it pertains to running backs, barely able to run the ball a lick in some spots. Even against a Cleveland run defense that hasn’t been very good and might get worse with the suspensions of key defensive talent, the Miami run-game prospects aren’t very bright. But despite being mistake-prone at times, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick can still pick up yards through the air and with DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Mike Gesicki, Allen Hurns, and Jakeem Grant, he has some targets he can hit.
Obstacles for a Miami Cover
It’s not an easy road-spot against a Cleveland team that has gotten on a little roll and wants to keep it going, especially to help put the stink of the last game behind them. The margin for error moving forward for the Browns is small. They can’t slack off, and getting close to .500 would be big for them. Certain matchups don’t shake out very well for the Dolphins, and some realities might come crashing down on them in this game.
First off, they really struggle against the run and the prospects of Nick Chubb ripping off chunks of yardage at will doesn’t bode well for this Miami defense’s chances. Only slightly better against the pass, Mayfield should be able to connect well with his top targets, which will only open things up more for Chubb. Conversely, the offenses that have done best against Cleveland this season have typically run the ball well—something Miami is genuinely horrible at, with a per-carry average of 3.0 this season. What Miami does best on offense feeds right into Cleveland’s hands, as the Browns’ secondary is clearly the best part of their defense.
Why Laying a Big Number on Cleveland Doesn’t Feel Right
There is something about this Cleveland team that makes you look at what’s on paper a little quizzically. What was on paper, after all, was what led people to project the Browns would be legit contenders this season. They have a knack, with only three covers on the season, to not live up to their potential. Granted, one needs to take a hard look at their wins over Buffalo and Pittsburgh—two teams who were playing well at the time they met the Browns. It’s not a mirage that some things are starting to click for this squad.
It’s just with Miami, we’re no longer dealing with a super low-level loser. Five covers in six games and two wins out of three mean they’re not the joke they were earlier in the season when they were getting absolutely pounded. In other words, you have an incredibly flawed and underachieving Browns team, now dealing with major personnel issues up front on defense, laying a huge number. And while it might sound a bit simplistic, no one feels particularly comfortable laying double-digits on 4-6 teams in this league. It’s hardly going to be earth-shattering if the Dolphins get hammered here. That can easily happen. But it’s almost like this number is more in the spirit of Cleveland actually having fulfilled their potential this season, which hasn’t come close to happening.
Take the Road Underdogs
I see some value with the Dolphins this week in this spot. Certain matchup components aside, I think the Dolphins have gotten better. Cleveland maybe has too, but not to the extent that the point spread here suggests. I see a Browns win, with Miami doing enough to cross the finish line within the spread, squeezing out the road-cover this week. I’ll take Miami.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Miami Dolphins plus 10.5 points.