Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

Miami Dolphins (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date and Time: Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 1:00 EST
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
by Vesper Abadon, Pro Handicapper,

Point Spread: Mia +7/NE -7
Over/Under Total: 45.5

After starting the season 3-0, the Miami Dolphins have
dropped the ball in their last three games and now sit at .500. Literally,
the Dolphins dropped the ball last week when Mario Williams forced a fumble
after sacking quarterback Ryan Tannehill with less than three minutes left
in the game. That set up a field goal for the Buffalo Bills, who went on
to win 23-21. It was a game the Dolphins should have won, but somehow found
a way to lose. Now they have to travel north to take on the New
England Patriots

Likewise, the Patriots lost a heartbreaker last week. They took on the New York Jets in East Rutherford and some late-game dramatics forced overtime. It was there that the Jets Nick Folk kicked a 42-yard field goal with 5:07 left on the clock. The Patriots still sit atop the AFC East with a 5-2 record, but the Jets (4-3) and Dolphins are both nipping at their heels. Heck, the Bills are still in the hunt at 3-4. Needless to say, this weeks division matchup is an influential for both the Dolphins and Patriots.

The Patriots have dominated the Dolphins in recent years, but theyre currently not playing up to par. Tom Brady is usually a top three quarterback, but what if I were to tell you he isnt even in the top five? How about top ten? Top 20? The answer to all three is that he is shockingly absent. Brady is currently the 26th-ranked quarterback with a 75.3 rating, which comes from going 158 of 285 for 1,708 yards, eight touchdowns, and five interceptions. As it is, the Patriots are 20th passing in the league averaging 225 yards per game (YPG). Granted, those numbers may not be quite as stunning when you remember Wes Welker is gone and Rob Gronkowski just returned from injury (in a big way I might add).

The Patriots passing game may be struggling, but their run game isnt half bad. Theyre currently ranked 13th in the league averaging 116.1 rush YPG, thanks in no small part to Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount. The former has carried 78 times for 320 yards (4.1 Avg) and three touchdowns, and the latter 54 times for 219 yards (4.1 Avg) and a single score.

All told the Patriots are ranked 16th offensively, which includes 20th for points per game (21.7 Avg) and 16th in yards (341.1 Avg). Defensively the Pats are ranked 18th, holding opponents to an average of 352.7 YPG including 225.6 passing YPG and 127.1 rushing YPG.

Surprisingly, the Dolphins are ranked better than the Patriots in a couple of categories. Believe it or not, the Dolphins score more points per game than their division rivals at 22.5 good enough for 17th in the league. Likewise, the Dolphins average 234.7 passing YPG, good enough for 16th in the NFL.

Thats due to Tannehill slowly but surely maturing into a solid starting QB. He has gone 133 of 219 for 1,577 yards, nine touchdowns, and seven interceptions. That gives him a rating of 83.1, which is better than Brady. Unfortunately, Tannehill has been sacked 26 times, which is a league high and indicative of the teams offensive line issues (trust me, theyre missing Jake Long who opted to go to the Rams in the offseason).

Tannehill and his receiving corps are solid (provided he has time to get them the ball) and have kept the Dolphins contending in each of their games. On the ground, Lamar Miller is the teams top rusher having carried 59 times for 254 yards (4.3 Avg) and two touchdowns. Not bad, but 59 carries is low for six games. Part of the reason is Daniel Thomas gets his fair share of touches. Hes rushed 39 times for 131 yards (3.4 Avg) and two touchdowns of his own. Theres definitely room for improvement on the ground.

Defensively, the Dolphins are ranked 21st in the NFL and give up an average of 372.2 total YPG 269.3 passing YPG and 102.8 rushing YPG. What do those numbers tell us? That the Dolphins have a solid front seven, and dont be surprised if they get to Brady a time or two on Sunday.

Vespers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Ive no doubt the Patriots will walk away with the win. The Dolphins make too many mistakes and their offensive line have shown no signs of improvement. With that said, the line is pretty big. The Dolphins tend to play close games, and theyll definitely give the tame Patriots a run for their money. This is a tough one, but both my gut and research tell me that while the Dolphins will likely lose, theyll do so by covering the spread.