Minnesota Vikings at Miami Dolphins: 2014 Week 16 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (6-8) at Miami Dolphins (7-7)

At first glance, this line is actually a little bit too low at 7. The Dolphins rank 12th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving them at a 74.16% rate, as opposed to 72.84% for their opponents, a differential of 1.33%. Meanwhile, the Vikings rank all the way down at 27th, moving the chains at a 69.08% rate, as opposed to 72.55% for their opponents, a differential of -3.48%. That suggests that the line should be around 8. However, over the past 4 weeks, the Dolphins move the chains at a 73.33% rate, as opposed to 82.09% for their opponents, a differential of -8.76%.

The fact that they’ve played Denver, New England, and Baltimore over that 4 weeks stretch probably didn’t help, but they also almost lost in New York to the Jets. On top of that, the Ravens aren’t nearly as good on the road and they blew out the Dolphins in Miami. And New England is a tough opponent, but they got completely blown out. They only covered once in that 4 game stretch. They aren’t the same team as they were a month ago, partially as a result of injuries. As bad as the Vikings have been this year, they don’t quite deserve to be touchdown underdogs here.

The Vikings are also in a great spot here in their 2nd straight road game. Teams are 112-77 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 95-55 ATS when it’s their 2nd straight (and not 3rd straight) road game and they next play a home game. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 195-198 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.31 points per game, as opposed to 272-389 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.27 points per game.

Both of these two teams have easy games next week, with the Dolphins hosting the Jets and the Vikings hosting the Bears. Both teams will be 6+ favorites next week, but the Vikings are in a slightly better spot because they’re the underdog here. Non-divisional road underdogs are 124-94 ATS since 2002 before being divisional home favorites. Underdogs of 6 or more are 145-96 ATS since 1989 before being favorites of 6 or more. Combining the two, non-divisional road underdogs of 6 or more before being divisional home favorites of 6 or more are 39-23 ATS since 1989. At the same time though, favorites of 6 or more (like the Dolphins) are 95-64 ATS since 2010 before being favorites of 6 or more. The Vikings seem like the right side, but I’m not super confident.

Miami Dolphins 20 Minnesota Vikings 17

Pick against spread: Minnesota +7

Confidence: Medium

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