Miami Dolphins (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday November 26th 1:00 PM EST
Where: Gillette Stadium
by Mike M, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIA+16 / NE-16
The Dolphins head north to Foxboro to take on the Patriots in a Sunday afternoon showdown between two teams that have had near opposite seasons t through the NFLs first eleven weeks, with New England sitting atop the AFC East with a comfortable lead at 8-2 and Miami an unfortunate 4-6 with little to no realistic chance of getting into the playoffs.
The season began with promise for Miami as they had just upgraded their backfield with a trade for Jay Ajayi and were looking good starting off the year with a 2-1 record. Unfortunately for Phins fans it has been all downhill from there, as they have now lost their last five games in a row and were eventually forced to trade Ajayi after he fell out of favor with the teams coaching staff. Another major issue has been the quarterback play, which they were forced to address after starter Ryan Tannehill went down with a season ending injury and did so by persuading Jay Cutler to come out of retirement, which has since been an unmitigated disaster and fans were likely relieved when he was forced out of last weeks game against Tampa with a concussion after having thrown three interceptions in the first half. Thankfully backup Matt Moore played well enough in Cutlers absence and is now expected to start on Sunday whether Cutler is cleared from concussion protocol or not. Moore has been positively average in the past when thrust into the lead role with a 15-14 record as a starter and a completion rate of 59%, but with their current losing streak and an offense that ranks 30th in yards per game and 31st in scoring, nearly anything will be an improvement.
Moore will at least have some receiver weapons at his disposal with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker all viable threats in the receiving game. Landry is the best of the group and currently leads the team in both receptions and touchdowns, while Stills is coming off of his top game of the season after catching seven passes for 180 yards and a touchdown vs. Tampa and is now the team leader in yards with 588 on the year. Unfortunately for those of us who had Parker on their fantasy teams this season, he has not come close to reaching the level many were expecting after developing a quick rapport with Cutler during the preseason and hasnt scored a touchdown since week 3 back in September.
As disappointing as Parker has been, it doesnt come close the barren wasteland that has been the Dolphins rushing attack, which now goes with a combination of Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams after Ajayi was traded for not getting along with game management wizard head coach Adam Gase. As a team they have scored just one rushing touchdown on the season, which was by Drake two weeks ago, and with their season crumbling and motivation at a premium, it would be difficult to expect Miami to improve on their bottom of the NFL barrel rushing attack ranking of 29th in yards per game.
Another area the Dolphins will be looking to mend is their team wide issue with penalties, as they currently rank 31st in the NFL with an unfortunate average of 8.4 per. They are coming off of a game in which they had a whopping 17 penalties called against them, which according the pattern they have followed all season it was no surprise to see that they eventually didnt escape with the win, as the team has averaged over 10 penalties per game in in their losses and just under 6 per game when they were victorious. While it is easy to understand why a team with behaviorally challenged players such as Ndamukong Suh and Kiko Alonso could have such an issue with penalties, they are far from the only problem and the squad as a whole will need to correct these easily avoidable mistakes if they want to have a chance this weekend against a Patriots team that has had the clear upper hand in recent years.
New England has gone 8-3 in the past 11 games against Miami and a near perfect 10-1 in their last eleven games played at Foxboro, with the lone blemish in 2008 when Tom Brady was hurt in week one and missed the entire season. Brady has been especially dominant at home, winning twelve of his last thirteen starts against the Dolphins with his only loss in 2005 in the last game of the season when he only played a quarter as the team lost on purpose to get a more advantageous seed in the playoffs. This worked out well in their favor as they crushed Jacksonville at home in the first round while the Bengals were the team ahead of them with the three seed and they ended up losing to Pittsburgh at home, which was also the game that started Cincinnatis current streak of seven losses in a row under Marvin Lewis in the playoffs.
Brady has continued right where he left off last season, and has thrown for 22 touchdowns compared to only 2 interceptions, and if you go back and combined those stats with his from 2016 his TD-INT ratio is an incredible 50/4. One reason why he has been able to keep up such a torrid pace is the addition of Brandin Cooks to their receiving corps, who gives Brady just his second legit deep threat option of his career with Randy Moss being the other. Their connection on the field seems to be getting stronger with each game and was highlighted by a 64 yard touchdown last week that Cooks was able to catch perfectly in stride as he burned down the field past a clueless Raiders defense. On the season thus far the former Saints standout has 45 receptions for 786 yards and four touchdowns while also posting the highest yards per catch of his career at 17.5, and he should continue to benefit from playing with another one of the leagues best quarterbacks on a weekly basis.
While the Patriots offense continues to rank as one of the leagues best (1st in passing, 2nd in yards per game, 4th in scoring), their defense was able to keep their turnaround going last week with another solid performance, and after letting up an average of 31 points per game in their first four, they have since allowed just 12.5 per in their last six. Considering that five of their last six games are against AFC East opponents and four of those are versus teams that are either starting a third string quarterback (Miami) or sabotaging their season by benching their only good quarterback despite being in line to make the playoffs and ending the longest current postseason drought in the league at 17 years (Buffalo), the defensive revival should continue in Foxboro.
The Patriots are giving 16 this week against Miami, which is the largest spread we have seen in the NFL this season. It is never easy to lay that many points in an NFL game, especially one in the regular season, but the Patriots have consistently managed to buck that trend in recent years as they are 8-2 against the spread in their last ten games when favored by double digits, including a 5-1 mark at home. I do fear a bit of a letdown after a physically exhausting dealing with their trip to play in Mexico, but if they want to keep pace with the Steelers for the ever important number one seed in the playoffs (New England has been the number one seed in their last four trips to the Super Bowl) they can nary afford a flop against an inferior opponent, and I believe by games end the Patriots will end up getting the win and cover at home against the Dolphins.
Mike Ms Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England -16. Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.