2017 Miami Dolphins Home Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
I was frankly skeptical that the Miami Dolphins were going to reach the playoffs again after going 10-6 last year and getting to the postseason for the first time since 2008 - which also happens to be the year Tom Brady blew out his knee in Week 1 and the last time the Patriots didn't win the AFC East. I'm certainly more skeptical in the wake of Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill's knee injury that has ended his season.
Look, I'm not a doctor and I don't pretend to have any knowledge on how an ACL works or the best way to rehab that. Obviously it's usually fixed with surgery. If I'm an athlete, though, and a reputable doctor gives me some sort of option other than going under the knife, I'm taking it. There's life after football. That's what Tannehill did last year when he hurt his left knee the first time in Week 14 (the ACL wasn't fully torn). Tannehill wouldn't play again with Matt Moore going 2-2 as a starter in his place when including the wild-card loss in Pittsburgh.
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The Dolphins have replaced Tannehill with Jay Cutler, who had his best season as a member of the Bears in 2015 when current Fins head coach Adam Gase was Chicago's offensive coordinator. Cutler threw for 3,659 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 64.4 completion percentage that year. Hardly Pro Bowl worthy but pretty good.
I am decidedly not a Cutler fan. He's just career 68-71 as a starter with the Bears and Broncos. Can he be at least as good as Tannehill? That's possible, and he surely has a better arm, but if Cutler hadn't been working out at all during the offseason and instead preparing for his new Fox TV role, then it's hard to see him being very good in the early going of the 2017 season. Last season, Cutler played in just five games because of thumb and shoulder injuries. He suffered a torn labrum in his right throwing shoulder and underwent surgery in December. Cutler surely is glad he's now teammates with Ndamukong Suh as Suh used to batter Cutler when with the Lions.
We know the Dolphins aren't winning the AFC East, so it's wild card or bust. Miami really had no choice here. Cutler was a better option than Colin Kaepernick or (for sure) Tim Tebow. There wasn't any potential starter available for trade like Sam Bradford was last season for the Vikings to acquire. Most projections have Cutler has a very slight downgrade on Tannehill. ESPN's Football Power Index dropped the Dolphins' projected win total from 7.3 to 7.0, for example.
Miami was 6-2 at home last season, 4-3-1 against the spread and 7-1 "over/under." The Dolphins host two playoff teams in 2017: Oakland and New England and neither until the second half of the season. I'd say the road slate is a bit tougher. Miami has the sixth-toughest schedule overall with an opponents' combined winning 2016 percentage of .547. The Dolphins' win total of 7.5 at BetOnline didn't change after the Cutler injury. The 'under' is a solid -140 favorite now. I projected 3-5 road record and forecast 5-3 at home so like the over. Odds listed for the home team .
Sept. 10 vs. Bucs (-1.5, 48): No advantage for Miami here in terms of the heat and humidity as the Tampa Bay players will be just as acclimated. The Dolphins haven't opened the regular season at home since the 2014 season. Miami and Tampa Bay have split their 10 games dating back to 1976. Key NFL betting trend: Dolphins 7-2-1 ATS all-time vs. Bucs (any location).
Oct. 1 vs. Saints (-3): London game at 9:30 a.m. The Dolphins gave up a home game in part to give themselves a chance at hosting a future Super Bowl, and they will in 2020. Miami was the first team to play in London when it faced the Giants in 2007 and went back in '14 and '15. Key betting trend: Dolphins 4-6 ATS in past 10 vs. NFC South (any location).
Oct. 8 vs. Titans (-3): The Dolphins opted not to take their bye week off the trip overseas. Miami lost 30-17 at home to Tennessee in Week 5 last year. Tannehill was being roundly booed by the second quarter and finished 12 of 18 for 191 yards and two picks. The Dolphins had eight first downs and 200 total yards. Key betting trend: Dolphins 3-7 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC South.
Oct. 22 vs. Jets (-8.5): Miami off a Week 6 trip to Atlanta. With only seven true home games, they are all must wins for the Dolphins, but this one simply can't be lost. They came out of their bye in Week 9 last year and beat visiting New York 27-23. Kenyan Drake had a 96-yard TD kickoff return with 5:15 left. Jay Ajayi had 111 yards rushing and a TD on 24 carries. Key betting trend: Dolphins 3-7 ATS in past 10 as home favorite in series.
Nov. 5 vs. Raiders (-1): Sunday night. Dolphins will have plenty of time to prepare for Derek Carr & Co. as they are in Baltimore the previous Thursday. Since Sunday Night Football came to be as the game of the week seven years ago, Miami's only appearance came in 2010. The Dolphins won the last meeting with the Raiders 38-14 in Oakland Week 4 of the 2014 season. Key betting trend: Dolphins 6-4 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC West.
Dec. 3 vs. Broncos (-1): This follows a trip to New England the previous Sunday. A homecoming for former Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, now Denver's head coach. Gase, meanwhile, was the Broncos' receivers coach, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator from 2009-14. Key betting trend: Dolphins 9-1 ATS in past 10 vs. Broncos (any location).
Dec. 11 vs. Patriots (+4): Monday night. I tend to think the Pats might be close to clinching the division by this point or maybe could in this game. Miami closed last regular season with a 35-14 home loss in this series. Moore threw for 205 yards, two scores and a pick. The Dolphins really had nothing to play for, but then neither did New England. Key betting trend: Dolphins 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 as home dog in series.
Dec. 31 vs. Bills (TBA): As usual, no Week 17 early lines. Much better for the Fins to host Buffalo in Week 17 than be in upstate New York. Miami comes off back-to-back cold-weather games in Buffalo (so it'll be cold then) and then Kansas City. The Dolphins beat the visiting Bills 28-25 in Week 7 last year. Ajayi tied an NFL record by surpassing 200 yards rushing (214) for the second game in a row. Key betting trend: Dolphins 6-4 ATS in past 10 at home in series.
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