Miami Dolphins (1-4) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) in London
Typically, the rule of thumb in these international games is to take the favorite, who has covered at a 66.7% rate all-time, which makes sense, given that the better team is probably better equipped to deal with playing a game after an unusual week. However, the favorite in this matchup is the Dolphins, who, despite being favored by 3 points, might not necessarily be the better team. The Dolphins are off to a disappointing 1-4 start after going 10-6 last season, but I still don’t think the public and odds makers have realized how bad they are.
Their only win came by 1 point against a middling Patriots team and the Patriots, who won the first down rate and yards per play battle, likely would have won if they had not lost one of their two lost fumbles, in which case the Dolphins would be 0-5 right now. The Dolphins did take the Raiders to overtime a few weeks ago and could have won that game, but they needed a long defensive touchdown to keep it close and lost the first down rate battle by 6.50% and the yards per play battle by 1.91 to a mediocre Raiders team. In total, the Dolphins rank 30th in first down rate and 22nd in yards per play allowed and their -75 point differential is the worst in the league, even behind the 31st ranked Jaguars (-59).
The Dolphins are also starting from a lower base point than most realize, as they were not nearly as good as their record a year ago. 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 get Tua Tagovailoa back from injury this week, but it’s unclear if he’s an upgrade on Jacoby Brissett, as both quarterbacks have played like backups this season. They’ll also be without top cornerback Xavien Howard and their two starting wide receivers Will Fuller and Devante Parker, due to injuries.
The Dolphins are still one point better than the Jaguars in my roster rankings, but that’s pretty insignificant, so we’re getting good value getting a field goal with the Jaguars, even if underdogs do tend not to cover in international games. The Jaguars are arguably the worst team in the league, so there isn’t nearly enough to bet them confidently here, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as the Dolphins are also one of the worst teams in the league and are still overvalued.
Miami Dolphins 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 19
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +3