Tennessee Titans (3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS) vs. Miami Dolphins (4-4 SU, 4-3-1 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date/Time: Sunday, November 11, 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
TV: CBS/DirecTV 709
by Vesper Abadon, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ten +6/Mia -6
Over/Under Total: 44.5
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There’s not much to get excited about when it comes to the Tennessee Titans. They’re a lousy 3-6, well behind the 7-1 Houston Texans in the AFC South, and have given fans little to cheer about. Arguably their best player, Chris Johnson, has been more fizzle than sizzle, and the lackluster run game has made it difficult to establish the pass attack.
After being dismantled in a 51-20 loss to the Chicago Bears last week, the Titans seem to be at the end of their rope. They’re in desperate need of a rest, but before they reach their Bye Week, they must play the Miami Dolphins on the road.
The Fins are coming of a loss of their own after falling to the Indianapolis Colts; even so, there seems to be an air of hope surrounding the team from South Florida. On the other hand, Titans fans seem to be deflated. It’s amazing what perception can do to a team, because these two are actually statistically balanced.
For instance, the Titans have the 24th-ranked offense in the league, while the Dolphins are ranked a spot ahead in 23rd place. The Titans’ 18th pass attack bests the Dolphins’ 20th, but the latter’s 13th-ranked ground game crushes the Titans lowly 24th.
The Titans’ pass game comes courtesy of Matt Hasselbeck, who replaced the injured second-year QB Jake Locker. Thus far the veteran has went 138 of 220 for 1,361 yards and seven touchdowns. All of those scores come from connections with his two favorite targets, the talented Nate Washington and rookie Kendall Wright. The former has 30 catches for 478 yards (15.9 Avg) and four touchdowns, and the latter 42 grabs for 381 yards (9.1 Avg) and three touchdowns. At time of print, it is not known whether Jake Locker will return or if Hasselbeck will take the reigns on Sunday. Either way, I don’t think that it will matter.
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Those are certainly respectable numbers, but they could be even better if the Titans were ever able to get their run game going. Unfortunately, Chris Johnson has been less than impressive most of the year. At first glance, his 736 yards and three touchdowns on 147 carries doesn’t seem too bad-heck, that’s five yards per carry-but much of that comes of fluke runs, like an 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Bears. Johnson has talent, and those big plays can be exciting, but he needs to become more consistent on the whole. If he does, it’ll improve the Titans tremendously.
For the Dolphins, their pass attack comes courtesy of Ryan Tannehill, who has performed well above expectations in his rookie year. He missed the majority of Week 8, but he’s still gone 142 of 241 for 1,762 yards and five touchdowns this season. What’s more, he’s done it with what was considered one of the worst receiving corps in the league-Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. Surprisingly, both those players have turned out to be studs. Hartline has 41 catches for 662 yards (16.1 Avg) and a touchdown, and Bess has 38 grabs for 483 yards (12.7 yards). The duo needs to find a way to get into the endzone more, but other than that they’re doing their job admirably.
The Dolphins may have a lack of touchdowns through the air, but they make up for it on the ground. Reggie Bush is their premiere back and has 534 yards on 122 carries (4.4 Avg) with four touchdowns, while Daniel Thomas gets a lot of short-yardage carries and has 192 yards on 57 carries (3.4 Avg) with three scores.
Defensively, the Titans are third worst in the league at 30th, allowing 34.2 points per game as well as 414.2 yards per game (272.7 passing & 141.6 rushing); meanwhile, the Dolphins are 24th allowing 18.6 points per game and 382.1 yards per game (298.2 passing & 83.9 rushing). These numbers don’t suggest anything special about the Titans, but they do show the Dolphins have one of the best run defense in the league.
Vesper Abadon’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Titans are tired, on the road, have a struggling ground game, and are going up against the Dolphins’ stellar run defense. A Titans’ win looks bleak, but if they’re going to get it done it’ll be through the air-the Dolphins’ biggest weakness.
With that said, I don’t see the Titans emerging with a win. They don’t seem to have a lot of gas left in the tank; on the other hand, the Dolphins are playing consistently well. Sure, they have four losses, but three of them have come by a field goal. In other words, they put themselves in a position to win each and every game-the same can’t be said of the Titans. Barring a big day from Johnson, which will be extremely difficult against the Dolphins’ defense, the home team ought to hold the Titans in check and come out with a win. Six points is a big line, but I don’t see any reason the Dolphins can’t overcome it. I think Tannehill has a huge day vs. that secondary as well.
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