Game: Miami Dolphins (5-5, 5-5 ATS) at Buffalo Bills (3-7, 5-5 ATS)
Spread: Dolphins -3.
Overview: This game appears to provide a good spot in which to take team that has plenty to play for against another that’s season has been lost and might be looking to simply play out the string.
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Meet the Miami Dolphins, who are clinging to longshot playoff hopes after turning their season around following an 0-3 start and the Buffalo Bills, who have watched another season go from hopeful to hopeless in a matter of weeks.
The Dolphins appear to have the edge here in both the X’s and O’s of football and in the motivation department. With a win, Miami can cling to an outside shot at a playoff berth, and the strong arm of second-year quarterback Chad Henne has added another threat to what had been a one-dimensional offense.
Although Ronnie Brown is lost to the season because of an injury, Ricky Williams had helped keep Miami fourth in the league at 156 yards per game rushing. Conversely, Buffalo is 31st in stopping the run, allowing 166 yards per contest.
The Bills probably waited a year too long to fire underachieving coach Dick Jauron, and now the rebuilding process will take even longer because of the delay. Happily adding infamous malcontent Terrell Owens to a team in desperate need of leadership set the club back as well, as did the misguided decision to name Trent Edwards the quarterback of their future.
When you add up all the mitigating factors, you have to like the two-sided edge the Dolphins should enjoy in this game. Although the Dolphins historically struggle in cold weather, the Bills are probably too much of a mess for it to matter.
Trends: The Dolphins are 6-0 ATS in their last six games against the AFC East, and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 overall. The Bills are 6-1-1 in their last eight as a home underdog of three or fewer points.
Pick: Dolphins -3.
Game: Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4, 4-6 ATS) at San Francisco 49ers (4-6, 6-2-2 ATS)
Spread: 49ers -3.
Overview: The surging Jaguars have done just enough to salvage what once appeared to be another lost season, winning their past three games by a total of eight points. The 49ers have done just enough to wreck what once appeared to be a breakout season, losing five of their last six after a 3-1 start, mostly due to a lack of firepower on offense and a defense that is becoming increasingly leaky.
While the Jaguars have overcome what had been their biggest liability, an inability to win close games because of penalties and turnovers, the 49ers continue to compound their primary problems. That is, their offense doesn’t seem to wake up until three quarters have passed, by which time the defense is weary from having been on the field for so long.
The 49ers started the season with such determination and intensity that you have to wonder if Coach Mike Singletary’s hard-nosed ways have caught up to them late in the season. Their defense, among the league’s best for the first four weeks, is now 21st by giving up 350 yards and 21 points per game. San Francisco’s meager offense is ranked No. 28 with just 278 yards per game.
Meanwhile, Maurice Jones-Drew has led the Jags to the league’s No. 6 rushing attack (136 yards per game), and quarterback David Garrard has been more solid with his reads and throws. In order for Jacksonville to build on its momentum, a win against a fading 49ers club is a must in this game. The three-point spot provides value here.
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Trends: The 49ers are 6-1-2 ATS in their last nine against teams with winning records, and 4-1-1 ATS coming off a straight-up loss. The Jaguars are 4-2 ATS as an underdog this season.
Pick: Jaguars +3.