Miami Dolphins (3-5 SU, 3-5 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date/Time: Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIA +6.5/PHI -6.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
The Miami Dolphins come into Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to face the Philadelphia Eagles. Each team has been through a lot already halfway through the season, but it looks like the Eagles have worked through some issues, approaching the second half with hope, while Miami struggles for foothold after again falling into a funk. On Sunday, the Eagles scored a hard-earned overtime road win against the Cowboys, 33-27. Miami, conversely, dropped their second in a row in a disconcerting 33-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
After getting their teeth kicked in the previous week to New England, the Fins fell flat against division rival Buffalo, a team that had also been struggling. Miami now finds themselves in their third consecutive road game and you have to wonder how viable they will be this week. After experiencing a typical midseason coaching change-related energy surge after the firing of head coach Joe Philbin, the mojo has worn off and Miami is once again in big trouble.
Philly has been improving. A few weeks ago, they fell flat against the unbeaten Panthers, their only loss in a 4-game stretch. On Sunday, they may have beaten a version of the Cowboys without Tony Romo that was on a long losing streak, but they overcame a hungry and passionate Cowboys performance and still emerged with a good win. The struggling Sam Bradford threw a beautiful overtime TD pass to notch the much-needed win for the Eagles. At 4-4 and in an NFC East where no one is doing that well, they can enter the second half of the season with hope. And after how poor they looked in the first handful of games this season, thats not an altogether bad spot to be in for Philadelphia.
Bradford has been up-and-down in his first year as the Eagles starter. He has remained healthy, which is half of the battle with Bradford, but with 10 TD throws and 10 picks, his performance in this new offense has sometimes been lacking. But maybe getting some games in and experiencing all the hardship he has gone through will make him better in the second-half. Hes understanding a difficult offense better and with 3 wins in 4 games, Philadelphia has some momentum going now.
Helping make the Eagles look better in recent weeks is the performance of their running game, with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews giving this offense a big boost. This was supposed to be the lynchpin of the Eagles offense, but some shoddy offensive line play and Murrays slow start had grounded the ground game early. Its now rolling and the Eagles hope to ride it all the way to a postseason spot. Theyve been chipping away and maybe the ground game is due to really explode here soon. Sometimes a team that endures a lot of struggle ends up being better off for it once they emerge from the depths and start to take flight. If looking for a team to go on a nice spurt in the last 8 games, the Eagles seem like a decent candidate.
Philadelphia is ranked 20th through the air and 21st against the run defensively, as they have underachieved this season. But the bottom-line isnt so awful, with the D giving up an average of just 20.5 points a game. They have not given up more than 27 points in any one game this season. In other words, theyre a unit that can be leaky is spots. There will be stretches of a game where they are giving up huge chunks of yardage through the air and on the ground. But they have reversed their early-season form when they were incapable of making the kinds of big plays that can turn close games in their favor. Weve seen a greater knack for clutch play lately with this defense, and the whole team in fact. This D has secured 20 turnovers and made some key stops in recent weeks, helping them win 3 out of 4 games. The formula has been tinkered with and fine-tuned and the Eagles are not the same team they were several weeks ago.
Now on to Miami, whose prognosis is less rosy. After interim coach Dan Campbell was brought in, there was sudden life in the legs of the Dolphins, but their last two weeks were tough, with two conclusive losses and non-covers. The 36-7 beating at the hands of the Pats is one thing, but to get hammered by a Bills team that had gone sideways in a must-win game was upsetting. Ryan Tannehill threw for 309 yards, yet the Dolphins could only muster 17 points on the day against the Bills. Drives stalled and the Buffalo D did some of the little things along the way to stunt the Dolphins offensive progressrecording key stops, a few key sacks, a strip, some batted balls, etc.
Miamis run-game has been inconsistent, with Lamar Miller having an inconsistent season thus far in 2015. Rookie Jay Ajayi made his NFL debut on Sunday, showing some promise. And Tannehill is able to connect well with a growing, yet inconsistent crew of receivers, like Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, and Kenny Stills. Miller is also valuable in the short pass. During their two-week win streak, the offense was looking pretty good, but not so much over the last two games.
A lot was expected out of the Miami defense this season, but for the most part, it hasnt really materialized. Injuries havent helped, but the pass-rush has not lived up to anything resembling their preseason expectations. On Sunday, this defense gave up a pair of 100-yard showings to Buffalo rushers, while allowing big plays from Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins, who has both been sidelined with injuries. They made the Buffalo offense look really good. Given their recent issues defending the opposing run-game, how will that resonate this week against the burgeoning Eagles ground game?
With Philly and Miami, youre dealing with two of the more formless teams in the league this season. A lot of teams have been like that this season, but these are two of the more-erratic teams when trying to cast a prediction. At the same time, I cant see Miami being all that great in their 3rd straight road game against an Eagles team that is now rolling a little bit. Im taking the Eagles.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Philadelphia Eagles minus 6.5 points.
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