Miami Dolphins (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
NFL Week 2
Date/Time: Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 4:05 PM EST
Where: EverBank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIA -7/JAC+7
Over/Under Total: 41.5
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The Miami Dolphins come in to EverBank Stadium for an in-state road trip, when they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in week two action. The Dolphins were able to escape with a win in week one in a road game against the Redskins. The 17-10 win was hardly impressive, but a win is a win and now they try to score their second straight road win to open the season. And the odds say they will do just that against the Jaguars, who lost, 20-9, to the Carolina Panthers in another disturbing season opener for Jacksonville.
Miami managed to come out of week one with a win and a cover, while also failing to impress. The offense was lukewarm at best, but in a road game out of their element, such could be expected to a certain extent. Back in-state and in-conference, maybe the Fins offense can shake off more of the cobwebs. The fact of the matter is that offensively, they dont pack all that much firepower. Jarvis Landry will come around as an aerial target and his punt return for a touchdown on Sunday was vital. But QB Ryan Tannehill will need to depend on a running game led by Lamar Miller, who despite a rough Sunday, had a pretty good season last year and should again this season. The pass-catching unit is made up of Landry and TE Jordan Cameron, Greg Jennings, and Kenny Stills. While what we see on paper often doesnt tell the whole story, it sort of does with Miamis offense, who scored one lone touchdown on Sunday.
Defensively, Sunday was a different story for Miami. They did allow Washington running back Alfred Morris to have a field day on the ground, but when it mattered, this defense came through more often than not, especially after falling into a 10-point hole on the roadnever a good scenario. They completely shut down Washington in the entire second half, constantly able to put out fires, while getting a couple picks along the way to keep Washington from getting back into it late. With big signing Ndamukong Suh now in the mix, they werent able to establish a consistent pass-rush, while also allowing the Redskins front to open up big holes for Morris. But something that doesnt appear in the stats is how well a D plays when they really need to get stops and by that measure, Miami did well on Sunday. Moving forward, they will need more of the same, with the defense making stops and getting key plays at precisely the right time.
Jacksonville got off to a rough start on Sunday in their 20-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers. They held Carolina to just a pair of touchdowns, but still were never able to really climb into the game. Blake Bortles, the second-year quarterback, was off the whole game. He didnt get much help from a receiving crew that was dropping passes left and right, with Allen Hurns also coughing up the ball. A few picks were also key in Jacksonvilles defeat. So were the 5 sacks Bortles was forced to endure. A total of 75 yards of offense in the second half was a rotten way to open the season. One saving grace is that they are back at home this week, where even the most ragged Jacksonville teams are often pretty gritty, especially against middling offenses like what Miami brings to the table.
Looking ahead for Jacksonville, there are some signs of hope, but no guarantees that anything positive will necessarily manifest. Their receiving corps is packed with talented youngsters, as are other phases of the team. And with more experience, guys could start to come around a bit. They also added rookie back TJ Yeldon, who had a few nice runs and did some damage on Sunday. Rookie receiver Rashad Greene snared 7 receptions. But the point is that they are young. Very young. And while holding a pedestrian Carolina offense to 20 at home doesnt mean a ton, this defense made some key moves in the offseason and are hoping for added maturity to make this a better unit, which they very well be in 2015.
After relying on some good fortune in the form of a punt returned for a touchdown and some key Washington miscues, Miami was fortunate to emerge from week one with a win, as were their backers who escaped with a cover. Now on the road for the second straight week to open the season, they are again the favorite. Is this asking too much out of Miami as robust touchdown favorites in this game? Sure, weve seen the Jaguars open the season in terrible form for the past several seasons, where they are imminently more exploitable than they are later in the season. But for a Miami team still trying to find its way, asking for a pair of road covers as favorites to open the year is a big ask.
To a large extent, this game comes down to things that are nearly impossible to forecast. Jacksonville needs to be able to execute better to be in this game. And one could expect Bortles and Company to be a little better after facing a really tough and hard-hitting Carolina defense in week 1. But even if they suffer a bit in week two, look for the Jacksonville home defense to keep a lid on Miami, at least enough to cover the spread.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars plus 7 points.
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