Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
Coming into the season, I thought the Dolphins were an overrated team. They should be significantly better on offense than a year ago, with Tua Tagovailoa going into his third season, with Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson being added to his receiving corps, Chase Edmonds being added to his backfield, and Terron Armstead and Connor Williams being added to his offensive line, but they’re starting from a pretty low base point, ranking 26th in offensive efficiency last season and if Tagovailoa doesn’t take a big step forward, the Dolphins are likely to be a middling offense at best.
The Dolphins had a solid defense last season, ranking 11th in defensive efficiency, and they return all of their key players from a year ago, but they could still be worse, losing defensive minded head coach Brian Flores and likely to have more injuries than a year ago, when they had the fewest adjusted games lost to injury on defense. The injury bug has already damaged this group in a significant way this season, knocking starting cornerback Byron Jones out for the start of the season, a big absence in this game.
The Dolphins won their week 1 game against the Patriots, but the turnover battle was a big part of that, as they were +3 in that department, leading to a 20-7 win, despite only winning the yards per play battle by 0.18 and losing the first down rate battle by -0.85%. Yards and first downs are much more predictive than turnovers, so I didn’t come away from the Dolphins week 1 game with my mind being significantly changed about this team. That being said, it’s hard to take the Ravens this week with any confidence, given their injury situation.
The Ravens are likely to be without left tackle Ronnie Stanley again, with his backup Ja’wuan James now also injured as well. Running back JK Dobbins is likely to return, but backup Gus Edwards is still out, while their defense remains without Tyus Bowser, David Ojabo, and could be without their top-3 cornerbacks, with Kyle Fuller tearing his ACL week 1, Marcus Peters still questionable at best to return from last year’s ACL, and top cornerback Marlon Humphrey highly questionable after getting injured in practice this week and not practicing at all on Friday. I’m still taking the Ravens unless all of their injured players are out, but it’s a no confidence pick, with this line (Baltimore -3.5) being exactly where I would have it, given all of the Ravens’ injuries and injury uncertainty.
Baltimore Ravens 24 Miami Dolphins 20
Pick against the spread: Baltimore -3.5