Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Pick – Monday Night Football

Miami Dolphins (0-10) +16, 41 O/U at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) -16, 41 O/U Heinz Field, 8:30 PM Eastern, Monday
by Badger of

Ugh! Do we really have to watch the winless Miami Dolphins play on national television on Monday Night Football this week? Against the Pittsburgh Steelers no less, the team that up until last weeks embarrassing loss to the New York Jets looked like they could be the second best team in the AFC.

The Steelers (7-3), as mentioned, will be trying to rebound from a really bad 19-16 loss in overtime at the Meadowlands last Sunday against the Jets. They are still sitting in first place in the AFC North standings, although their lead has narrowed to just one game ahead of the Cleveland Browns.

Miami (0-10) lost for the 10th time in ten tries Sunday, dropping a 17-7 decision to the Philadelphia Eagles. On a good note, the Dolphins did hold a lead going into the second half, but the Eagles took care of business to pull away for the win.

The game opened with the host Steelers favored by 16 points, with an over/under total of 43.

The Steelers offense has been strong so far this season, up until last week when they gave up seven sacks to the Jets. This years team is a typical Steelers team: grind it out on the ground (147.5 yards per game - 2nd in NFL), then take advantage of their opportunities with play-action passes (200.8 ypg - 20th). Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is playing well (107.5 passer rating), so the Steelers have been scoring points at a rate of 26.9 points per game.

The Dolphins made a move to the future last week when they started second round pick John Beck at quarterback. Beck played well, as did fellow rookie wideout Ted Ginn, but it didn’t translate to points on the scoreboard. The Dolphins are average to below-average in most offensive statistics (21st in total yards; 25th in passing; 15th in rushing), and as a result score a meager 18.3 points per game. In fact, the only points they Dolphins scored in the Eagle game came way of a 87-yard punt return by Ginn, not via the offense.

The Dolphins rookies will have their work cut out for them this week, as they will be facing the NFLs top-rated defense in the Steelers. Pittsburgh is 1st overall in total yards allowed (236.2), passing yards (156.3), and points allowed (14.5), and slip to just 3rd overall in rushing yards allowed (79.9). In other words, dont look for the young Dolphins to move the ball much at all. Pittsburgh will be playing without safety Troy Polamalu though, who is listed as doubtful due to a bum knee.

Miamis defense used to be the strength of the team, and compared to the offense it still is, but it has slipped in recent years. They are still strong against the pass (181.1 ypg - 4th), but they are dead last against the run (154.9 ypg) which is a bad combination going against the run-happy Steelers. They also give up 27.4 points per game, putting them 30th overall in the NFL.

Ironically, this will be the third straight time in the Dolphins and Steelers have met in prime-time. They opened the 2006 NFL season at Heinz Field, a game the Steelers won 28-17. Pittsburgh has covered in their last four meetings head-to-head, with the under hitting on three of the four occasions.

As far as betting trends go, Pittsburgh is only 6-4 ATS so far in 2007, but a strong 4-1 at home on Heinz Field. The Steelers are just 5-5 against the total, going 3-2 at home. Most importantly, Pittsburgh has owned Monday Night Football, winning 12 straight.

Miami, as one would expect, is a bettors nightmare. The Dolphins are 2-5-3 ATS (including a 1-2-2 on the road), and a dead-even 5-5 versus the total (2-3 on the road).

The game opened at -16 at most betting sites and has stayed there, more an indication that nobody in their right mind is willing to bet on the Dolphins this year. The total has moved from 43 to 41, also an indication that the public has little faith in the Dolphins offense versus the tough Steeler D.

Badgers Pick: Personally, I am unwilling to put money on any NFL team as a 16-point chalk, even against the Dolphins. The Steelers 0-4 ATS record as a favorite of 10.5 or greater is also a good reason why this game is one Id stay away from if given a choice. If you have to bet on this one, take the under and hope the Steelers call of the dogs early.