Miami Dolphins (5-4) at Green Bay Packers (3-4-1)
The Dolphins managed just 7 first downs and 168 yards of offense at home last week against a mediocre Jets team, but managed to win by a touchdown because they won the turnover margin by 4 and got a defensive touchdown that ended up being the margin of victory. Turnover margins are incredibly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis though, so they won’t be able to rely on that every week. For example, teams, on average, follow up a +4 turnover margin with a +0.0 turnover margin the following week.
That win pushed the Dolphins to 5-4, but they certainly haven’t played like an above .500 team. While their 5 wins have come by a combined 33 points, their 4 losses have come by a combined 71 points and they rank just 28th in first down rate differential at -4.31%. The Dolphins get a big step up in class from the Jets this week, when they go to Green Bay to take on the Packers.
The Packers’ record at 3-4-1 is underwhelming, but that’s because they had injuries early in the season (and a game in Detroit where Mason Crosby missed 5 kicks that equaled more than the margin of victory) and then, when they came out of their bye relatively healthy, led by the return of top cornerback Jaire Alexander, they then had to go on the road and face the Patriots and Rams, arguably the two best teams in the league.
Now the Packers return home, where they are 36-18 ATS in games started and finished by Aaron Rodgers since 2011. They picked up another major injury last week when middle linebacker Blake Martinez got hurt, but he could play this week after getting in some limited practice. Even with him at less than 100%, the Packers are still a tough opponent, despite their record.
Martinez’s uncertainty is one reason I’m not going to bet the Packers this week, despite facing an easy opponent at home. The second reason is that the Packers have to turn around and go to Seattle on a short week and favorites are just 50-71 ATS since 2012 before Thursday Night Football. They may be underdogs in that game as well (favorites of 10+ are 60-79 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs), but even if they aren’t they could easily overlook the Dolphins a little bit, with that game on deck. I’m still going with Green Bay, as I have this line calculated at -12.5, but I wouldn’t bet on it unless this line drops down to single digits.
Green Bay Packers 26 Miami Dolphins 13
Pick against the spread: Green Bay -10