Indianapolis Colts (0-3) at Miami Dolphins (1-2)
The Dolphins were on my overrated teams list going into the season. They 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 Dolphins are off to a 1-2 start, but it’s even worse than that suggests as their point differential (-37) is 4th worst in the NFL and they could easily be 0-3 if the Patriots didn’t fumble two likely scoring drives away in a 1-point Miami win, a game in which the Patriots had a better first down rate (+2.56%) and a higher yards per play attempt (+0.63). The Dolphins took the Raiders to overtime last week and could have won that game, but they needed a long return touchdown to keep it close and lost the first down rate battle by 6.50% and the yards per play battle by 1.91. Through three games, the Dolphins rank 30th in first down rate and their defense hasn’t been nearly good enough to compensate.
That being said, the Dolphins are getting a relatively easy matchup against an 0-3 Colts team. The Colts have faced a tough schedule thus far (Seahawks, Rams, Titans), could have beaten the Rams, and have a better point differential (-24) than the Dolphins, but their injury situation keeps getting worse. In total, they are missing their top-2 offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith, their top wide receiver TY Hilton, a pair of starters in the secondary in Rock Ya-Sin and Khari Willis, and talented first round pick defensive end Kwity Paye, while starting quarterback Carson Wentz is less than 100% playing through two bad ankles.
The Colts might not be quite as bad as their 0-3 record, but given all they are missing due to injury, I have them ranked as my 6th worst team right now, 4.5 points below average and actually a half point behind the Dolphins. The Dolphins have some injury concerns, but their most notable injury, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, might not actually be hurting this team’s chances of winning games, as Tagovailoa has struggled thus far in his limited career, while backup Jacoby Brissett could possibly be an upgrade, or at least not a downgrade. The Dolphins are only getting 2 points at home, but being a slightly better team at home should have them favored by at least a field goal. There isn’t nearly enough here for the Dolphins to be worth betting, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.
Miami Dolphins 20 Indianapolis Colts 17
Pick against the spread: Miami -2