Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (6-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-6)

The Packers are 3.5-point underdogs this week, which might seem low, but 1 in 4 games are decided by three points or fewer, with 1 in 6 games being decided by exactly a field goal, so 3.5 is a higher line that some might think. As a result of that, it tends to be a trap line, as the oddsmakers know they can get people to bet on it because it doesn’t seem that high, when in reality it’s actually closer to 6 than 3, if you take into account how often games are decided by each margin of victory. Because of that, betting on 3.5-point underdogs is actually a profitable strategy in the long run, as they have covered at a 52.9% rate all-time, slightly above the 52.5% rate needed to break even. That alone isn’t a reason to take every 3.5-point underdog every week, but it’s worth taking into account.

That being said, I do think this line is a little low. The Packers have been overrated all season and, while that slowed down significantly when the Packers fell to 4-8, now with two straight wins that seems to have changed, even though those wins were against the Bears and Rams, two of the worst teams in the league. The Packers were 13-4 a year ago, but, in some ways, their significant decline this season isn’t all that surprising. Despite their record last season, the Packers finished just 10th in point differential and 11th in overall efficiency, even with an MVP season from Aaron Rodgers who, as good as he is, was no guarantee to play at quite the same level in 2022, now in his age 39 season. Add in the loss of by far their top wide receiver Davante Adams this off-season and some regression was to be expected from them, especially on offense.

In many ways, things have gone how you might expect, given the circumstances. The Packers’ defense has declined slightly due to injuries, ranking 17th in defensive efficiency in 2021 and 22nd in 2022, while their offense has fallen off significantly, falling from 4th in offensive efficiency a year ago to 16th this season, while their horrendous special teams that ranked dead last in efficiency a year ago has only been slightly better this year, ranking 27th. All in all, the Packers rank just 22nd in the NFL in overall efficiency (-1.69) when adjusted for schedule.

The Packers have also been especially bad on the road this year, going 2-6 with a -35 point differential away from Lambeau, as opposed to 4-2 with a +8 point differential at home, which is nothing new for them, as they have consistently underperformed on the road with Aaron Rodgers, whose QB rating drops 10 points on the road, far above the league average. With all that taken into consideration, I have this line calculated at Miami -7, so we are getting line value with the Dolphins, even if this line is higher than it seems at 3.5. There isn’t enough here for the Dolphins to be bettable, but I like them for pick ‘em purposes.

Miami Dolphins 27 Green Bay Packers 20

Pick against the spread: Miami -3.5

Confidence: Low

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (8-5) at Buffalo Bills (10-3)

The Dolphins are only a couple games behind the Bills in the standings, but they have a +4 point differential and have won five of their six one-score games, while the Bills have a +132 point differential and have won three of their six one-score games. The gap between these two teams is closer than that suggests though, as the Dolphins lost all three games this season in which Tua Tagovailoa did not start and/or finish the game, including two by multiple scores.

In fact, the Dolphins’ only multi-score loss of the year with Tua Tagovailoa under center was on the road in San Francisco, against one of the most talented teams in the league. That’s relevant considering this line favors the Bills by a touchdown, which gives us some line value with the Dolphins. It’s not a significant amount though, as the Bills as the type of team that could beat the Dolphins by multiple scores like the 49ers did, especially at home in Buffalo.

The Bills haven’t been quite as dominant this season as they were last season, when all of their wins came by at least 12 points, leading to a +194 point differential that led the league, but they have played better in close games (0-5 in one-score games a year ago, leading to them having “just” a 11-6 record, despite leading the league in point differential) and their point differential this season is still the second best in the league, only six points behind the Eagles, who have benefited significantly from a league leading turnover margin of +14, which is not predictive week-to-week (Buffalo is only at +2). 

In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is more predictive, the Bills lead the league, ranking 9.5 points above average. Injuries have also been the biggest reason why the Bills haven’t been quite as dominant as a year ago and they have gotten healthier in recent weeks. A lot of attention has been paid to the absence of Von Miller and that is certainly a big loss, but the rest of this team is significantly healthier than earlier this season and Miller was not part of their team a year ago, when they led the league in point differential.

Talented safety Jordan Poyer (four games missed), starting offensive linemen Mitch Morse (two games) and Dion Dawkins (one game), stud linebackers Tremaine Edmunds (three games) and Matt Milano (one game), and talented edge defender Greg Rousseau (three games), top cornerback Tre’Davious White (ten games) are all set to play for Buffalo this week, after missing significant time with injury early in the season. I’m still taking the Dolphins for pick ‘em purposes, but my calculated line of Buffalo -6.5 doesn’t give us much line value with the Dolphins and, considering the Bills already have seven wins by more than seven points this season, it’s hard to be confident in the Dolphins at all this week, so this is one of my lowest confidence picks.

Update: After some slight tweaks to my numbers, I like the Bills in this game, but still for a no confidence pick.

Buffalo Bills 28 Miami Dolphins 20

Pick against the spread: Buffalo -7

Confidence: None

Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers: 2022 Week 14 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (8-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

The Chargers are 6-6, but their six wins have all been close and have come by a combined 24 points, while their six losses have come by a combined 61 points, leading to a point differential of -37 that ranks just 24th in the NFL. They’re even worse than that suggests as they have benefitted from a below average schedule and they have a +4 turnover margin, tied for 5th best in the NFL, which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is predictive and takes into account strength of schedule, the Chargers rank 29th, about 6 points below average.

The Chargers came into the season with a lot of promise, but they have had a lot of problems with key players missing injury. They got talented wide receiver Keenan Allen back from injury a few weeks ago and this week their other talented wide receiver Mike Williams and stud center Corey Linsley return, but they still remain without talented left tackle Rashawn Slater, expected top cornerback JC Jackson, and stud edge defender Joey Bosa, who would be among their best and most important players if healthy, as would safety Derwin James, who will miss his first game of the season. Also missing their first games of the season are lesser players in defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and right tackle Trey Pipkins.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, lost last week in San Francisco, but that was their first loss this season in nine games started and finished by Tua Tagovailoa and this week the Dolphins will get back stud left tackle Terron Armstead from injury, whose absence was a big problem in last week’s loss. Even with last week’s loss taken into account, as well as the stretch they played without Tagovailoa earlier in the season, the Dolphins still rank 9th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 3 points above average and 9 points ahead of the Chargers. My roster rankings also have the Dolphins as the significantly better team, giving them a 11.5-point edge, with the Dolphins heading in the opposite direction from the Chargers injury wise.

Normally I would shy away from an east coast team playing a west coast team at night, as that is historically a bad spot to bet a team against the spread, with circadian rhythms significantly benefitting the players on the west coast team, who are three hours behind the east coast team. However, in addition to the significant line value we are getting with the Dolphins as mere 3-point favorites, the Chargers also have next to no homefield advantage in Los Angeles, lacking fans in the area and, as a result, are 27-17 ATS at home, as opposed to 17-27 ATS on the road, since moving to the city in 2017. Because of that, I can confidently take the Dolphins as my Pick of the Week at -3. I would like them at -3.5 as well, but for a lesser bet.

Miami Dolphins 30 Los Angeles Chargers 20

Pick against the spread: Miami -3

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (7-4)

The Dolphins have a 8-3 record, among the best in the league, but they’re even better than that, as they’ve won all eight games started and finished by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Despite that, they are 4-point underdogs this week in San Francisco. The 49ers are one of the better teams in the league, ranking 5th in point differential (+76) and 4th in schedule adjusted efficiency (about 5 points above average) and they are arguably even better than that, as they are healthier and more talented than they were earlier in the season, but it’s hard to justify them being favored by this many points against a team as good as the Dolphins.

There’s not quite enough here for the Dolphins to be worth betting and they will be without talented left tackle Terron Armstead, but the 49ers could be without one of their best offensive playmakers Deebo Samuel and, overall, my calculated line has the 49ers as favored by a field goal at most, which is significant line value, given that about 1 in 5 games are decided by 3-4 points exactly, so the Dolphins should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, even if they’re not quite bettable.

San Francisco 49ers 23 Miami Dolphins 20

Pick against the spread: Miami +4

Confidence: Low

Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-8-1) at Miami Dolphins (7-3)

A week ago on the early line, the Texans were 9.5-point underdogs on the early line, but this line has since ballooned to 14. The Dolphins were on bye last week and didn’t play, so this line movement is purely the result of the Texans’ loss to the Commanders last week and the Texans subsequent decision to bench quarterback Davis Mills for backup Kyle Allen. That seems to be an overreaction though, as one bad game shouldn’t cause that big of a line movement, while the switch from Mills to Allen is largely a lateral move, as Mills was arguably the worst starting quarterback in the league.

The Dolphins are undefeated in the seven games that Tua Tagovailoa has started and finished this season, but they aren’t exactly blowing teams out, with just one win that would have covered this 14-point spread. The Texans, meanwhile, have been competitive in most of their losses, with just one loss that would have covered this spread. The Texans are also in a better spot, as the Dolphins could easily overlook the team with the worst record in the league, with a much tougher game against the 49ers on deck. Teams cover at just a 41.6% rate all-time as favorites of a touchdown or more when they are facing an opponent with a winning percentage that is 50% less than their next opponent’s winning percentage, which is the case here. This isn’t a big bet, but the Texans are bettable this week.

Miami Dolphins 27 Houston Texans 17

Pick against the spread: Houston +14

Confidence: Medium

Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (3-5) at Miami Dolphins (6-3)

The Dolphins are 6-0 in games started and finished by Tua Tagovailoa, but they haven’t really been blowing teams out, with their only victory by more than six points coming in a game against the Patriots in which the Dolphins won the turnover battle by three, which is not predictive week-to-week. This week, the Dolphins play a Browns team that is just 3-5, but they have been better than that record, with four of their five losses coming by three points or fewer. The Browns are also healthier coming out of their bye week, with key players Jadeveon Clowney, Denzel Ward, and Wyatt Teller all playing in the same game for the first time in a few weeks.

Unfortunately, the public and oddsmakers seem to understand that these two teams play a lot of close games, favoring the Dolphins by just 3.5 points here at home. That’s right where my calculated line is and, while my numbers suggest the Dolphins are slightly more likely to cover this spread than the Browns, this is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week, as the Browns could easily force a backdoor cover late and cut this lead to a field goal or less, even if they are otherwise not that competitive throughout the game.

Miami Dolphins 31 Cleveland Browns 27

Pick against the spread: Miami -3.5

Confidence: None

Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (5-3) at Chicago Bears (3-5)

This is one of the toughest calls of the week because there aren’t any trends related to this game and the line is right about where it should be, favoring the visiting Dolphins by 4.5 points. The Dolphins only have two more wins than the Bears, but they have been significantly better on offense when Tua Tagovailoa is healthy, while the Bears lost the yards per play and first down rate battle in two of their three wins, leading to them ranking 27th in schedule adjusted efficiency, 4.5 points below average, while the Dolphins rank 16th, right about average, despite Tagovailoa missing about two and a half games. With Tagovailoa back, the Dolphins have an eight point edge over the Bears in my roster rankings. I’m taking the Dolphins for pick ‘em purposes, but I don’t have any confidence in them at this number.

Miami Dolphins 25 Chicago Bears 20

Pick against the spread: Miami -4.5

Confidence: None

Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) at Miami Dolphins (3-3)

Two weeks ago, the Steelers were demolished in a 38-3 blowout in Buffalo, losing the first down rate battle by 6.42% and the yards per play battle by 5.17, but they bounced back in a big way last week, pulling an upset victory over the Buccaneers as 9.5-point underdogs. While that was a surprise, it shouldn’t have been too surprising to see those results back-to-back, as teams tend to bounce back in a big way after being blown out, covering the spread at a 58.6% rate after a loss by 35 points or more.

Unfortunately, the flip side of that is also true, as teams tend to struggle after big upset wins, covering the spread at a 41.3% rate after a win as home underdogs of five points or more. That’s primarily because teams tend to be overconfident and overrated after an upset win. In this case, it’s very possible the Steelers could be overconfident, but I don’t think they are overrated. In fact, despite the Steelers’ upset win last week, this line shifted from favoring the Dolphins by 4.5 on the early line last week to now favoring them by 7.5.

That line shift happened because the Dolphins get quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater back from injuries this week, but it was always likely one of those quarterbacks would be back for this game and, even with Tagovailoa under center, 7.5 points is too high. Even when Tagovailoa was healthy earlier this season, the Dolphins’ only win by more than one score came in a game in which they won the turnover margin by 3, but lost the first down rate battle by 0.85% and only won the yards per play battle by 0.18, a concern because yards and first downs are significantly more predictive week-to-week than turnovers.

The Dolphins still rank 11th in schedule adjusted efficiency, which is based on yards per play and first down rate, even with the injuries they’ve had at quarterback, but the Steelers are only 1.5 points behind them, ranked 16th. My roster rankings have a bigger 3-point gap between these two teams, but, either way, it’s hard to justify this line being all the way at 7.5. My calculated line is Miami -4.5, so we’re getting significant line value with the Steelers. 

There’s a chance the Steelers are flat this week after such a big home upset win over the Buccaneers last week, but, even with that taken into account, they are at least worth consideration for a bet. I’m leaving this as a low confidence pick for now, but depending on the status of a pair of key Miami players who are questionable, left tackle Terron Armstead and edge defender Emmanuel Ogbah, I may end up betting on the Steelers.

Miami Dolphins 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 19

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +7.5

Confidence: Low

Minnesota Vikings at Miami Dolphins: 2022 Week 6 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (4-1) at Miami Dolphins (3-2)

Coming into the season, I expected the Vikings to be better than a year ago and make the post-season, with better health on defense and better coaching on offense. So far, they are 4-1, with their only loss coming to the undefeated Eagles, but they are still underrated, as they rank 8th in schedule adjusted efficiency and are still just 3-point favorites on the road against a Dolphins team that is starting a 3rd string, 7th round rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson, with Tua Tagovailoa out and Teddy Bridgewater expected to be the backup if active. My calculated line has the Vikings favored by 6.5, so they’re worth a big bet at 3, as they are likely to at least push at that number.

Minnesota Vikings 27 Miami Dolphins 20

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3

Confidence: High

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets: 2022 Week 5 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (3-1) at New York Jets (2-2)

The Dolphins are 3-1, with their only loss coming on a short week last week in Cincinnati after beginning the year as the last undefeated AFC team, but they haven’t been as good as that suggests, as one of their wins came in a game against the Patriots in which they won the turnover battle by 3, but were become even in first down rate and yards per play, which are more predictive, while their other two wins came against teams in the Ravens and Bills who were dealing with significant injury problems. Even not taking those injury problems into account, the Dolphins rank just 15th in schedule adjusted efficiency, less than one point above average.

The Jets, meanwhile, are 2-2 and, while they’re not as good as their record, they may be underrated, as their decent record is widely regarded as not indicative of their level of play. They do rank just 26th in schedule adjusted overall efficiency, but that’s mostly because of an offense that ranks 29th in schedule adjusted efficiency, which I expect to improve with quarterback Zach Wilson returning from injury last week and left tackle Duane Brown returning this week. Their defense is significantly improved over last year’s dead last ranked unit, ranking 16th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency this season, as a result of off-season additions and key players returning from injury, while their special teams remain dominant, ranking 2nd in schedule adjusted efficiency, after ranking 2nd last season as well.

The Jets shouldn’t be getting more than a field goal at home against a middling Dolphins team that is starting a backup quarterback, even if Teddy Bridgewater is unlikely to be a significant dropoff from injured Tua Tagovailoa. This line might not seem that high at 3.5, but about 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less, with 1 in 6 games decided by exactly a field goal, and, largely as a result of that, 3.5-point underdogs cover the spread more than any other number, covering at a 53.0% rate all-time, which is actually profitable by itself. My calculated line is Jets -1, so we’re getting great line value with the host. This is one of my highest confidence picks of the week and I like the money line as well.

New York Jets 20 Miami Dolphins 19 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3.5

Confidence: High