8:15 PM EST
Raiders +3 over Dolphins
The Dolphins have been the single best against the spread team in the NFL this year with a 11-3 ATS record and we have made a lot of money betting them this season. However, they have been underrated for the majority of these games — that is finally not the case in this game. The Raiders were a -1.5 favorite on the look ahead line prior to last week and because they lost a coin flip game to the Chargers and the Dolphins beat a very poor Pats team last week, this line has flipped 4.5 points, a line move which is definitely not warranted.
There is no arguing that the Dolphins defense is elite (#1 in the league allowing 18.4 points per game), but they have also been the single “luckiest” team in the league when it comes to forcing and recovering fumbles. Fumble recovery is a luck based stat which tends to even out over the course of the season. A prime example of this is the Steelers who were 11-0 a short three weeks ago thanks to their very favorable turnover margin.
Through the first 11 weeks of the season, they led the league in this category, but over the past three weeks they started losing games in large part because fumbled balls stopped bouncing into their laps. Over the past three weeks, the Steelers forced no turnovers and fumbled the ball five times and Ben threw several interceptions. They are 0-3 in those games. Enter the Miami Dolphins, who are now the league leader in turnover margin, which is again, a very big reason why they are winning football games. Similar to Pittsburgh, when their turnover luck goes south, so too will their winning performances.
Even if the Dolphins good fortune continues, which is unlikely, there are still a lot of reasons to love Las Vegas in this game. This is a very difficult spot for the Phins, a cross country trip on a Saturday night over a holiday weekend after a huge win against their rival Patriots. The Raiders defense is certainly weak but it’s not like the Miami offense is great by any means. Let’s not forget the last time Tua was on the road against a competent opponent (the Jets don’t count), he struggled mightily against the Broncos and went for 11-of-20 for 83 yards before being benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Miami lost that game 20-13 to a team who is currently 5-9. This is a young team who is still learning how to win on the road, there is absolutely no reason they should be the favorite on the road against a team who is any sort of competent.
I could go game by game through Miami’s entire schedule this year but that would be a waste of time. The bottom line is, the Dolphins do not have a history of blowing teams out or winning by margin. They were down 30-10 to K.C. two weeks ago going to the fourth quarter. When they beat the Rams, Tua passed for 93 yards while Jared Goff passed for 355 yards. When they beat the Chargers, Tua passed for 169 yards. The list of lucky wins and unimpressive performances goes on and on for the Dolphins and that puts us in a great position here to take back some great value against their misleading record.
Regardless of who starts at QB for the Raiders, I like them to be able to do enough offensively to stay right in this game for 60 minutes. Even though the Raiders playoff chances are all but over with their loss to the Chargers, they at least have some hope and until teams are officially eliminated they usually play hard.
Miami has been a “bend but don’t break defense” they have given up a lot of yards but tend to get off the field on third down when it matters the most. However the Raiders third down offense is the second most efficient in the league, so I don’t see that being the case tonight. The Dolphins defensive stats have also been inflated because they played a lot of limited offenses lately (Cam Newton, Bengals, Jets), they will be in for a far tougher test tonight against an Las Vegas offense who is well balanced with both the pass and the run.
This is the Raider’s last home game of the season, and as long as they show up in this game motivated, there is no reason they should be getting spotted a field goal in a game which I see them winning outright. Let’s not forget this is the same team who dominated the Saints, gave the Chiefs their only loss of the season, dominated the Browns and destroyed the same Broncos team who beat these very same Dolphins. This is a team with a ton of talent and now they are as healthy as they have been in weeks with all of their skill position players back on offense. If the Phins have some of their turnover variance regress back to the mean which is extremely likely and overdue, this could be a game that the Raiders win with relative ease. Take the Raiders.