Miami Dolphins (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date and Time: Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Gillette Stadium
TV: CBS; DTV 710
by Vesper Abadon, Pro Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mia +7.5 / NE -7.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5
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Way back in Week 1 the Miami Dolphins downed their AFC East rival New England Patriots, which had many experts predicting the decline of Tom Brady and company. Since then, the Patriots have silenced their critics and are virtual locks to capture the division title. This week, theyll look to exact revenge as they host the Dolphins, who as far as the Playoffs are concerned, are on the outside looking in.
The Patriots, who are coming off a big 23-14 win over the San Diego Chargers, enter Week 15 with the leagues 7th-best offense averaging 30.8 points per game (PPG) and 381.7 total yards per game (YPG). That includes the NFLs 7th-best passing game (272.7 YPG) and 20th in rushing (109.1 YPG). Defensively the Patriots come in at 13th holding opponents to an average of 349.8 total YPG (244.2 passing YPG; 105.6 rushing YPG) and 20.5 PPG.
Theres no doubt that Brady has been the man responsible for the Patriots success. The future Hall of Famer is currently the leagues 6th-best QB with a 100.2 rating, which has come from going 321 of 496 for 3,560 yards, 30 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. His favorite target no surprise has been tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Gronk returned from injury and is having another all-star year having caught 73 passes for 997 yards (13.7 Avg) and 10 touchdowns. Likewise, both Julian Edelman (85 receptions for 884 yards and three touchdowns) and Brandon LaFell (57 receptions for 753 yards and seven touchdowns) have been doing a fine job in the receiving corps.
On the ground the Patriots are a mixed bag, mainly because you can never be sure who theyre going to go to. Shane Vereen 82 carries for 347 yards (4.2 Avg) and a touchdown is the usual starter, but there have been times when Jonas Gray 72 carries for 345 yards (4.8 Avg) and four touchdowns has carried the game.
As for the Dolphins, who lost to the Baltimore Ravens 28-13 at home, their offense is ranked 21st averaging 333.6 total YPG and 24.2 PPG. Their passing game comes in 23rd averaging 217.7 YPG, while their rushing game is 12th averaging 115.9 YPG. On the defensive side of the ball, the Fins hold opponents to an average of 326.8 total YPG (203.2 passing YPG; 123.5 rushing YPG) and 20.0 PPG, which is good enough for a 6th-place ranking.
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Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has shown improvement in his third year and has gone 305 of 457 for 3,044 yards, 21 touchdowns, and nine interceptions good enough for an NFL 14th-best QB rating of 92.6. Tannehill has done an excellent job with accuracy, spreading out the ball, and using his legs, but he rarely takes shots downfield. In fact, his longest of the season is just 50 yards, which is unacceptable when he has the explosive Mike Wallace at his disposal.
Speaking of Wallace, he leads the team with 57 receptions for 700 yards (12.3 Avg) and seven touchdowns, while rookie Jarvis Landry has been a pleasant surprise having caught 63 passes for 573 yards (9.1 Avg) and five touchdowns. On the ground, Lamar Miller is their man having carried 162 times for 782 yards (4.8 Avg) and six touchdowns. The problem is the coaching staff sees Miller as a player who wears down over time, so they dont tend to stick with him as the game wears on.
Vespers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Dolphins have had golden opportunities to make the Playoffs both of the past two seasons, but they flounder in the spots that count. Theyre just too inconsistent, and as a result head coach Joe Philbin finds himself on the hot seat.
The Dolphins could still make the postseason, but realistically theyll need to win out to make that happen. Theoretically they should beat the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets in Weeks 16 and 17 respectively, which means this weeks matchup is huge. Unfortunately I dont see them prevailing over the Patriots.
The Dolphins just dont do well in these spots and the Patriots have been on fire. Theyll take it to the Dolphins, who are depleted by injury, especially with the temperature hovering around 40 degrees. The Dolphins just arent used to the cold. Its a big line, but I think the Patriots are going to run it up at home to cover. To that end, I think both teams will combined to surpass the 47.5 over.