New England Patriots (7-4, 5-5-1 ATS) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-6, 5-6 ATS), NFL Week 13, Land Shark Stadium, Miami, Sunday, Dec. 6th, 1 PM Eastern, CBS
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Patriots -5/Dolphins +5
After stepping out of conference only to get beaten badly Monday night in New Orleans, the New England Patriots will look to get back to the task at hand, which is to win the AFC East and garner a decent post-season seed, when they travel South to Miami to take on the division-rival Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon.
Most online NFL betting outlets opened this game with New England favored by five points, with a total of 46 or 46 , and those numbers had held steady in early wagering action.
The Patriots are also giving right around -230 on the various moneylines, with Miami getting +190 as home dogs.
New England was 6-2 a few short weeks ago, but blew that game at Indianapolis, and after a win over the Jets, lost badly to the Saints Monday night 38-17, giving up 480 yards of offense to Drew Brees and company.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins, after an 0-3 start to this season, won five of seven to get to 5-5, then lost last week at Buffalo 31-14 by getting outscored 24-0 in the fourth quarter.
So going into this weekend, the Patriots lead the AFC East by two games over the defending division-champion Dolphins and the New York Jets. But if the playoffs started today, New England would have to play on wild-card weekend.
Miami ain’t dead yet, though, in the AFC wild-card race, trailing the 6-5 Ravens, Steelers and Jags by a game for the sixth and final playoff slot.
New England’s golden boy QB Tom Brady, after missing nearly all of last season with that knee injury, started out a bit slowly this season, got things rolling, and then looked very average in Monday night’s debacle at the Superdome. Overall this year, the former Michigan Wolverine has hit on 66% of his throws for 7.7 YPA, a 20/8 TD/INT ratio, and a 96.5 rating.
Since taking over for the injured Chad Pennington, Miami QB Chad Henne has run a bit hot & cold. Overall, the other former Wolverine has completed 58% of his throws this season for 6.1 YPA, which is low, with seven TD passes, seven interceptions and a 73.2 passing rating.
On the season, New England is outgaining opponents by a 412-313 YPG margin, and outrushing foes 115-110.
On the other side of this matchup, Miami is getting outgained this year 344-321, but outgrounding foes 156-108.
New England also leads the league in average time-of-possession this year at 34:20, while the Dolphins rank seventh at 32:16.
These two teams hooked up about a month ago in Foxboro, when the Pats beat the Fins 27-17 but couldn’t cover the spread as 10 1/2-point home faves. Miami led in the fourth quarter 17-16, but New England scored on a long Brady-to-Moss connection, got the two-point conversion, and iced the victory with a field goal with a minute to go.
The Patriots outgained the Dolphins that day 432-334, while the Fish outrushed New England 133-109. And that game stayed under its posted total of 47.
Last year, with Matt Cassel playing in place of Brady, these two teams split their two games, both of which went over the totals.
After going an amazing 38-10 straight up and 35-12-1 vs. the numbers on the road from 2003-08, the Patriots may be trending back toward normal in that split this season. Outside of that win over Tampa in London back in October, New England is 0-4 straight up and 1-3 against the spreads on the road this season.
The totals are 4-6-1 in Patriots games this season, which have averaged 46 points, while the totals are 7-4 in Dolphins games, which have averaged 48 points.
After going 1-4 both SU and ATS last weekend, NFL home underdogs are now 19-38 straight up this season and 25-32 vs. the numbers.
On the Sagarin PURE POINTS charts at USAToday.com, the Patriots are rated at 29.9, the Dolphins at 20.2. Factoring in Sagarin’s updated NFL home-field advantage figure of 2.2, and New England is a 7 1/2-point road favorite over Miami for Sunday’s game on the Sagarin line.
Z-Man’s Pick: This should be a tight game. I believe NE wins but MIA covers. Good luck!