Miami Dolphins (1-3) at Tennessee Titans (1-3)
The Dolphins have been a massive disappointment through 4 games, after finishing 10th in rate of moving the chains differential in 2014 and seemingly getting better this off-season. They won in Washington, though only on a punt return touchdown, lost a close one in Jacksonville, who hasn’t beaten anyone else, and then got stomped by both Buffalo and the New York Jets, leading to the dismissal of head coach Joe Philbin, a move that was long overdue. Coming off a bye, with a much needed change at head coach, and with talented left tackle Branden Albert expected back from injury, the Dolphins should be much improved this week and, while they have major holes on the offensive line and in the secondary, they still have a good amount of talent, despite ranking 28th in rate of moving the chains differential.
That might not translate to a win this week though, as the Titans, while also 1-3, are a solid bunch. They blew out Tampa Bay by a score of 42-14, came within 2 points of beating the Colts, came within a point of Buffalo and, while they lost by 14 in Cleveland, the Browns only moved the chains at a 69.57% rate, as opposed to 67.65% for Tennessee. On the season, they rank 7th in rate of moving the chains differential. They probably aren’t as good as that suggests, but it’s clear that they aren’t an easy team to beat. One of the worst teams in the league last season, the Titans are drastically improved on both sides of the ball this season and I like their chances of beating the Dolphins by at least 3 points and covering as 2.5 point home favorites here.
The reason I wouldn’t put money on the Titans is because they have to host the Falcons next week, while the Dolphins get to host the Texans. The Dolphins will definitely be favored in that game, while the Titans could easily be home underdogs when Atlanta comes to town, even after Atlanta was delivered their first loss of the season by the Saints on Thursday. If that still happens, it opens up a significant trend. Underdogs are 112-68 ATS since 2010 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs, as teams tend to be more focused than their opponent in spots like that. Even if the Titans end up being favored next week, the logic behind the trend still makes sense. Tennessee is my pick, but I’m not that confident.
Tennessee Titans 20 Miami Dolphins 16
Pick against the spread: Tennessee -2.5