Miami Dolphins (7-6) at New England Patriots (10-3)
Both of these two teams are in great spots. The Dolphins are playing arguably the biggest game of their season (a must-win on the road against division rival New England), with no upcoming distractions, as their next game is a home game against Minnesota. The early line in the Minnesota game has them as 7 point favorites. Teams are 108-77 ATS since 2002 as divisional road underdogs before being divisional home favorites, including 18-6 ATS as 6+ point underdogs before being 6+ point favorites, a trend that is 39-15 ATS going back to 1989.
However, it’s not like the Patriots have any upcoming distractions either, with a trip to New York to take on the lowly Jets up next. The early line has them favored by 10. Teams are 89-63 ATS since 2012 before being 3+ road favorites, 57-36 ATS before being 4+ road favorites, 23-8 ATS before being 7+ road favorites, though oddly enough just 4-4 ATS before being 10+ road favorites (might just be a small sample size, that spot is 36-22 ATS since 2002).
The Patriots are usually very good at home, in revenge games, and late in the season, which they have going for them here. The Patriots are undefeated at home over the past two seasons, winning 15 games by an average of 13.93 points per game and covering 11 times. Meanwhile, they haven’t lost to a divisional opponent twice in the same regular season since 2000, going 9-0 straight up and 9-0 ATS in same season divisional revenge games since 2001. Finally, they are 33-4 straight up in the 2nd half of the season since 2010, going 23-13 ATS, including 18-1 straight up at home, 12-7 ATS.
This line is too high for me to be confident though. The Patriots are just 10-8 ATS in the 2nd half of the season since 2010 as 7+ point favorites and just 5-4 ATS as home favorites of 7 or more over the past 2 seasons. Besides, Miami is better than their record, as they rank 9th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving them at a 74.64% rate, as opposed to 72.06% for their opponents, a differential of 2.58%. The Patriots are obviously very good, ranking 2nd, moving the chains at a 77.58% rate, as opposed to 72.29% for their opponents, a differential of 5.29%, but this line is still too high for me to be confident. The Patriots are my pick though.
New England Patriots 27 Miami Dolphins 17
Pick against the spread: New England -7.5