This matchup features one of my top overrated teams and one of my top underrated teams. The Dolphins won 10 games a year ago, but they faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%) and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL).
They improved their receiving corps this off-season, but they’ll be without veteran addition Will Fuller with a suspension this week and they will likely have worse quarterback play, as Ryan Fitzpatrick was by far their most effective quarterback a year ago and is no longer with the team. Tua Tagovailoa will likely be better than he was as a rookie in year two, but he’ll need to make a big leap to avoid this team having worse quarterback play. I have them as a below average team overall and significantly behind the Patriots in my roster rankings.
The Patriots only won 7 games a year ago, but they did so despite underwhelming play on both offense and defense, as they were led by a dominant special teams, which still remains and should now be complemented by significantly improved offensive and defensive units, with the Patriots getting a significant amount of talent back from COVID opt outs, as well as a significant amount of talent coming in through free agency after the Patriots off-season spending spree.
They also should get better quarterback play from rookie Mac Jones, who was very impressive in the pre-season. If Jones can even be a league average starter as a rookie, this team should win a significant amount of games and they should be favored by a significant amount at home against the Dolphins. This line, favoring the Patriots by a field goal, suggests these two teams are about even, so we’re getting a lot of value here, enough for the Patriots to be my Pick of the Week.
New England Patriots 24 Miami Dolphins 16
Pick against the spread: New England -3
Confidence: Pick of the Week