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