Miami Dolphins (1-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (2-0)
This one is a tough call. On one hand, the Dolphins are still a little overrated even after last week’s 35-0 home loss to the Bills, as they would be 0-2 right now if not for recovering a pair of fumbles in a 1-point win over the Patriots. Fumble recoveries are highly non-predictive week-to-week and in more predictive metrics the Dolphins were clearly worse than the Patriots, losing in first down rate (33.33% vs. 30.77%) and yards per play (5.61 vs. 4.98) by significant margins. 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).
The Raiders are a bit of an overrated 2-0, beating the Ravens in overtime a great spot, in their first game in Las Vegas in front of fans, against an east coast team that had to travel cross country for a night game, and then turning around and beating a Steelers team that was missing several key players due to injury, but they should still be favored by more than 3.5 points at home over the Dolphins. The Raiders’ offense isn’t as good this year after downgrading their offensive line this off-season, but their defense has improved significantly and they are at least a middle of the pack team, which I think is more than can be said about the Dolphins, especially with backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett under center.
However, this is a tough spot for the Raiders, who are already 2-0 and have a nationally televised game against the Chargers on deck, after this game against a Dolphins team starting a backup quarterback and coming off of a blowout loss. They could easily overlook the Dolphins and teams tend to cover after blowout losses in general, going 68-39 ATS since 2002 after losing by 35 points or more. I’m still taking the Raiders for pick ‘em purposes because of the significant line value we are getting with them (my calculated line is Las Vegas -6.5), but I am not at all confident in them in this spot.
Las Vegas Raiders 20 Miami Dolphins 16
Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -3.5