Friday, December 20, 2013

NFL Predictions 2013 Week 16: Dolphins vs Bills

Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills: MIA -2.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Report

This is one of the more interesting point spreads on the board. The LVH look-ahead/opening lines both had the Dolphins as -3 point favorites. Yet, we've seen some respect for the Bills as the line has been adjusted to -2.5 with some juice.

The majority of bets are still on Miami though (77%).

Bottom Line

Unlike some other teams, I'm not writing the Bills off as a 'dead' team. Even though they are out of the playoff hunt, they have a new coaching staff and a lot of youth on both sides of the ball. I expect a strong effort out of Buffalo on Sunday, but I question whether or not they have the tools to get the win.

I didn't like how the Dolphins responded to their off-field problems when they lost to the Bucs on prime-time, but since then they've really rallied together and put together some good ball. Tannehill is playing strong, and more importantly, his offensive line have protected much better (McKinnie and Clabo in particular).

The Bills defense rank average or above average in most of the key categories, so Miami will definitely have to earn their points. However, can Buffalo do enough with their offense to keep up?

EJ Manuel is once again on the shelf, which leaves us with Thad Lewis. This isn't a notable downgrade, as both have ranked below average all year, but Stevie Johnson is also out. Lewis might have led the Bills to a victory over Miami earlier in the year, but Johnson led the team in catches that week (as he does most weeks).

The main hope for Buffalo is their run game and home field advantage. The Dolphins defense has been pretty consistent all season long, but their linebackers have been a sore spot game in and game out. CJ Spiller has the ability to make them pay both on the ground and in the air. It's also expected to be some unpleasant weather, which may or may not have an impact. We saw Miami go into a tough Pittsburgh environment last week and come away with a win without much of a problem.

If Miami were favored by -3, I'd go ahead and pass, but at -2.5 I think we are getting a bit of value here. I like what the Dolphins have shown me over the past month, and I'm willing to bet they continue that roll and take care of business this week.

NFL Pick: MIA -2.5.