Miami Dolphins (5-3 SU, 5-3 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date and Time: Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Ford Field
TV: CBS, DTV 707
by Vesper Abadon, Pro Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mia +3 / Det -3
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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Inconsistency. That was the story of the Miami Dolphins during the first third of the season. Now, after three straight wins and a thorough Week 9 37-0 stomping of the San Diego Chargers the first time theyve been shutout since 1999 and the Fins first shutout since 2006 the team from South Florida has turned heads. Theyre in the thick of the Playoff race, but a tough upcoming schedule, beginning this week with the Detroit Lions, will be the true test.
Did you know only three AFC quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck have done better than Ryan Tannehill since September? Thats some impressive company. Last week, Tannehill went 24 of 34 for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran four times for 27 yards, including a 22-yard scamper. Oh, and he did that all in three quarters as he was allowed to rest in the fourth.
Two factors have contributed to Tannehills recent success. First, he is spreading the ball out. He found 10 different receivers against the Chargers, and it was about the same the week before against the Jaguars. Its a formula thats working for the Dolphins, who have the 19th-ranked passing game averaging 228.5 yards per game (YPG). His top receiver has been Mike Wallace, who has caught 35 passes for 468 yards (13.4 Avg) and five touchdowns; meanwhile, rookie Jarvis Landry, who has caught 30 passes for 201 yards (10 Avg) and a pair of touchdowns, has given their receiving corps a big boost in recent weeks.
The other factor that has helped Tannehill thrive is the rushing game. The coaches have dialed up plenty of designed runs for the quarterback, who has carried 31 times for 245 yards (7.9 Avg) on the season, and running back Lamar Miller has been getting the job done in the back field carrying 106 times for 518 yards (4.9 Avg) and five touchdowns. All told Miami averages 137.2 rushing YPG, good enough to make them the 4th-best team in the NFL. Unfortunately, Miller suffered an AC joint sprain on his left shoulder and is day-to-day. If hes not ready to go Sunday expect Daniel Thomas to start.
Defensively the Dolphins are ranked third in the league holding opponents to an average of 304.6 total YPG (201.1 passing YPG; 103.5 rushing YPG) and 18.9 points per game (PPG). Those are some impressive numbers, but theyre not as good as the Lions, who have the leagues best defense holding opponents to an average of 338.8 total YPG (259.1 passing YPG; 79.6 rushing YPG) and 15.8 PPG.
Theres no denying the Lions defensive prowess, but theyre not nearly as strong offensively, where they rank 20th averaging 338.8 total YPG. Their 259.1 passing YPG give them a NFL ranking of 9th, but their abysmal 79.6 rushing YPG is second worst in the league. However, if not for some injuries those numbers would surely be better.
Superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has missed the last three games due to an ankle injury, is slated to return after getting some rest during their Bye Week. Thatll be a huge boost to quarterback Matt Stafford, who has gone 183 of 299 for 2,216 yards, 11 touchdowns, and seven interceptions which gives him a 23rd-ranked 86.5 QB rating.
Likewise, Reggie Bush, who has been dealing with an ankle injury of his own, should play on Sunday. Bush has only carried 49 times for 171 yards and a touchdown this season, but his return is welcomed as Joique Bell has failed to impress in the starting role having carried 98 times for 313 yards (3.2 Avg) and three touchdowns.
Vespers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Bye Week couldnt have come at a better time for the Detroit Lions. The extra time afforded them the opportunity to get healthy, which theyll need if they hope to hold off the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. That said, they face one of the leagues hottest teams this week in the Miami Dolphins.
The Fins enter this game with momentum and a heap of confidence. The way they dismantled the Chargers was awe inspiring, and they looked like a Super Bowl team on all sides of the ball. The question is can they keep it up?
Theres no doubt theyll have trouble running the ball. Miller is ailing and the Lions front seven are like a brick wall. That will put a lot of pressure on Tannehill, but like I said hes been getting it done with the numerous aerial options. Its going to be hard for the Lions secondary to cover so many threats, especially when Tannehill always has the option to hold onto the ball and run.
Conversely, I think Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will be able to keep the Lions offense in check. Their rushing game is stagnant and I dont see Bush lighting it up upon his return. Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon will keep him and Bell in check while pressuring Stafford. Johnson and Golden Tate are credible threats, but the Fins secondary especially Reshad Jones and Brent Grimes (who has four interceptions) will be able to focus their efforts on shutting them down. The Dolphins have generated 18 turnovers this season, and I think theyll add a few more come Sunday.
I like the Dolphins at +3; however, given the defensive of both these teams, I dont think theyll score enough points to cover the over.