Monday, November 12, 2012

NFL Predictions 2012 Week 11: Dolphins vs Bills

Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills: MIA +3 (Bodog)

Markets

When this line came out on Sunday I was a little bit confused.  The look-ahead line before last weekend had the Dolphins -1 favorites.  After they put up a stinker for the second straight week, they became +1.5 underdogs vs Buffalo.  My initial reaction was "this can't be right".   Yet, the NFL is league that changes quickly, so based on recent results I shouldn't be too surprised.  Given the short week I decided to pass, but now that we've seen a move all the way to +3 I have no choice but to add it to the card.  If you don't have it, you should be able to get an affordable 3 since most books are offering +2.5 at 'even' odds.  If you still can't get that, add them in a teaser with the Broncos or Cowboys and call it a day.

Trending?

We've seen lots of examples this season where teams go on streaks (good and bad).  The Cardinals, Vikings, Giants, and Eagles started off hot, only to fade into irrelevancy in October/November.  The Bucs, Colts, and Packers began the season inconsistently, but have strung together some good weeks.

So what do we make of the Dolphins?  Statistically, they've had a very strong season thus far.  Ryan Tannehill and his receivers surprised everybody out of the gate and managed to land in the upper half of the rankings on the backs of a strong defense.

Yet, two weeks in a row we've seen them completely tank it.  I assumed the shredding they received from the Colts was an aberration, but they followed it up with one of the worst performances of the season against the Titans.

My take is that this is still a solid football team.  They aren't going to scare anybody, but keep in mind that turnovers were the biggest story coming out of their game vs Tennessee. 

Granted, their defense hasn't faced stiff competition overall this year, but this is the NFL and everybody can move the ball against a porous unit.  We do have to give them some credit for ranking high vs the run, on third down, and in the red zone.  Injuries aren't a big concern, so I think they'll be alright tonight against an inconsistent Bills offense.

Dead Last?

Speaking of the Bills, let's look at their defense for a moment.  Many people (including me) thought this would be one of the strengths of their team heading into the season.  I liked the additions of Mario Williams and Stephon Gilmore.  Dave Wannestat was supposed to simplify things with a basic 4-3, but for whatever reason things haven't clicked.

And not "clicking" would be an understatement.  They not only rank near the bottom vs the run and the pass, but they are dead last on third down and in the red zone.  To top it all off they've put up these stats against a weak group of offenses this season.

Their consistenty rating is also bad, which in this case means they've been "bad" some weeks and "atrocious" in others.

Bottom Line

I'm taking a bit of a chance here since Miami could be one of those teams headed back down the rankings.  It would surprise no one if Tannehill starts looking more and more like a rookie.  The defense might have overachieved vs a soft schedule.  Still, what I do know is their defense can't be worse than what the Bills have shown us this season.  

Offensively, there isn't a lot separating these teams.  The Bills have put up stronger rush stats this season, but Fred Jackson has been ruled out.  This leaves the bulk of the work for CJ Spiller.  A month ago that would be a good thing, but now?  Let's see how he does against what is supposed to be a good run D.

I have to go with the value here and take Miami on a key number.

NFL Pick: MIA +3.

More Week 11 picks.