Miami Dolphins (0-1) at New England Patriots (1-0)
The Dolphins are in a much better spot than the Patriots here, as they have arguably the easiest game of their season on deck, a home game against the Browns in which they’re favored by a touchdown in the early line, while the Patriots have to play again in 4 days against the Texans on Thursday Night Football. Underdogs of 6 or more are 40-29 ATS before being favorites of 6 or more since 2008, while teams are 48-71 ATS as favorites before Thursday Night Football. The Dolphins could easily be a lot more focused for this one than their opponent.
On top of that, the Dolphins are in their 2nd of two road games, coming off a loss in Seattle. Teams are 131-95 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 106-64 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. 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 226-229 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.51 points per game, as opposed to 322-438 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.74 points per game.
That being said, this line is way too low for me at 6.5 to put any money on the Dolphins. The Patriots showed last week that even without Tom Brady, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Dion Lewis, and Rob Gronkowski, they’re still a very capable football team. They could have easily lost if not for a botched 47-yard potential game winning field goal by the Cardinals, but even losing by 1 would have been impressive on the road, against the Cardinals. This is the most talented Patriots’ defense since their undefeated 2007 team, keeping the Cardinals’ high flying offense in check. If they can get guys back on offense, they’re probably the team to beat in the NFL. This week, they get Nate Solder and possibly Rob Gronkowski back.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, are overrated coming off of a 2 point loss in Seattle. The only reason that game was close is the Dolphins won the turnover margin by 2, but turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis and the Patriots historically do very well in turnover margin. The Dolphins only moved the chains at a 54.55% rate last week, as opposed to 70.97% for the Seahawks. One of the worst teams in the league last season (31st in rate of moving the chains differential), the Dolphins are better coached this year, but lost a trio of talented free agents in Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, and Derrick Shelby and have one of the least talented rosters in the league. Missing center Mike Pouncey for the 2nd straight week, they figure to have a hard time scoring against New England, even though the Patriots are missing linebacker Dont’a Hightower. I’m taking the Dolphins to keep this closer than a touchdown because they’re in a better spot, but I’d need at least 7.5 to consider putting any money on this.
New England Patriots 17 Miami Dolphins 13
Pick against the spread: Miami +6.5