Miami Dolphins (3-3) at New England Patriots (6-0)
Dan Campbell has looked like the best coach in the NFL through 2 games, as the Dolphins have won their last 2 games since the bye by double digits, taking big early leads in both of them. This comes after the Dolphins had an incredibly disappointing start to their season, going 1-3 (with one win on a punt return in Washington), losing in Jacksonville, and getting demolished by two divisional rivals, the Bills and the Jets, in games that both were Miami home games.
That’s why they fired Joe Philbin during the bye and replaced him with a fiery young tight ends coach in Campbell. However, before we get too far ahead of ourselves with the Dolphins again, it’s important to remember that it’s been just two games against the Titans and the Texans and that Campbell only looks so good because he’s being compared with Joe Philbin, who was one of the worst coaches in the league over the past few years.
The Dolphins still only rank 21st in rate of moving the chains differential on the season. Their talent level is better than that, especially with left tackle Branden Albert and defensive end Cameron Wake now healthy off of the bye, and they have definitely found an upgrade at the head coach spot, albeit an inexperienced one, but they still have major issues, such as the offensive line and the secondary. The Patriots, meanwhile, rank 3rd in that measure, though they do have some injuries, missing defensive end Jabaal Sheard, left tackle Marcus Cannon, and possibly running back Dion Lewis, while the Dolphins are essentially at 100% injury wise.
The Dolphins should still have a much tougher time with them in New England than they did with Houston and Tennessee. The Dolphins’ recent play has moved this line from 10.5 on the early line to 8.5 this week, a number that they almost covered in a tougher spot against a much tougher Jets team last week. I love to fade a significant line movement whenever I can and this game is no exception. We’re getting line value with the Patriots, as this line should be about 10 at least.
The Patriots are also in a much better spot, hosting the Redskins next week, meaning they have no distractions on the horizon. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have to turn around off this one and go to Buffalo, who blew them out badly in Miami a few weeks ago. They should still be focused for this one, with a long week between them and Buffalo and with New England being arguably their biggest rival and toughest opponent.
However, even if the Dolphins didn’t have an upcoming distraction, the Patriots are still in a better spot because the better team tends to be the one that benefits most from not having an upcoming distraction. Favorites of 6+ are 77-37 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6+ again, as good teams tend to take care of business and win big, unless they have an upcoming distraction. It also helps that the Patriots are 15-7 ATS since 2013. If it wasn’t for heavy public action on New England and the Patriots’ few injuries, this would be a higher confidence pick, but I have no problem putting money on New England this week.
New England Patriots 34 Miami Dolphins 20
Pick against the spread: New England -8.5