Monday Night Football Predictions: Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers Odds & Picks
Looking for a fade candidate the rest of the 2017 NFL regular season? I give you the Miami Dolphins ahead of their Monday night game at Carolina.
It's not so much as I think the team lacks for talent, although I'm not a personal fan of Jay Cutler, one of the most overrated quarterbacks of the decade. Yeah, yeah, he has a cannon. He also is wildly inaccurate and makes terrible decisions.
No, the reason I'm going to start betting against the Dolphins (4-4) is I believe that they and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to start wearing down and breaking down, if they haven't already. Of course, Tampa was supposed to visit Miami in Week 1, but Hurricane Irma changed that. The NFL really had no choice but to reschedule that game for next Sunday because it was a convenient fluke that the two were on the bye that week. Obviously, that means both teams will play 16 straight weeks of football. That's tough and a clear disadvantage vs. the other 30 teams in the NFL.
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I give Miami (4-4) no chance of the playoffs despite that .500 mark. Records can be misleading but point differential generally isn't. The Fins are at minus-63. The only two AFC teams worse are the Andrew Luck-less Colts and the need-no-explanation Browns. This is Miami's record 83 rd game on Monday night (41-41 record).
Carolina (6-3) is in good shape to make the playoffs, either as a wild card or the NFC South champion. The Panthers are a halfgame behind the red-hot Saints in the division, and Carolina is +150 at BetOnline to win that with New Orleans at -140. Carolina was thrashed at home by the Saints in Week 3 and they play again Week 13 in the Big Easy. This game is ahead of the Panthers' bye week. That can often mean one of two things: the players go even harder knowing they have a week off, or they are a bit sluggish because they are looking ahead to that break.
Dolphins at Panthers Betting Story Lines
Miami enters on a two-game skid and began life without 2016 Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi last Sunday night vs. Oakland. I thought there was a chance the Fins players might mail that one in after watching Coach Adam Gase trade one of the team's best offensive players, but Miami played pretty well in a 27-24 loss. Kenyan Drake (nine carries, 69 yards) and Damien Williams (seven carries, 14 yards) were the primary running backs. Drake and Williams each had six receptions and combined for 82 yards.
Cutler returned from a one-game injury absence and had his best game since at least 2015, throwing for 311 yards, three TDs and no picks (first game ever with 300, 3 TD and no picks!). Perhaps he should play with cracked ribs more often? Oakland's defense isn't particularly good, though. Carolina ranks No. 2 in rush defense, No. 4 in scoring defense, No. 5 in total defense and No. 6 vs. the pass.
Perhaps I should assume one team will score 17 points in this one because a club has in three straight Panthers games, the past two wins. They played their first game since trading No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo in Week 9 and beat Atlanta 20-17. The thinking behind dealing Benjamin was to get more speed at receiver on the field and thus potentially open up space for the running game. It worked vs. the Falcons as Carolina rushed 38 times for 201 yards even though Jonathan Stewart had only 21 on 11 carries and lost two fumbles.
Cam Newton led the team in rushing yet again with 86 yards and a TD on nine carries, while rookie Christian McCaffrey got a career-high 15 carries for 66 yards and a score. I'm not sure if McCaffrey has surpassed Stewart as the No. 1 back or it was simply Stewart's fumbles. Before that game, McCaffrey had just 117 yards on 49 carries -- or 2.4 yards per carry. Newton threw for only 137 yards. Frankly, that's how Coach Ron Rivera would prefer to play. The Dolphins rank seventh against the run, allowing 94.0 ypg.
One injury note for Carolina is that Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil is likely to miss another game with a neck injury. He has had trouble staying in the lineup this season.
Dolphins at Panthers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Carolina is a 10-point favorite (+105) with a total of 40. On the moneyline, the Panthers are -425 and Dolphins +340. On the alternate lines, Carolina is -9.5 (-105), -9 (-110) and -8.5 (-115). Miami is 3-3-2 against the spread (2-2 on road) and 3-5 "over/under" (1-3 on road). Carolina is 5-4 ATS (1-3 at home) and 4-5 O/U (2-2 at home).
The Dolphins are 0-7 ATS in their past seven Monday night games. They are 8-18-1 ATS in their past 27 following an ATS loss. The Panthers are 6-2-1 ATS in their past nine in November. The under is 4-0 in Miami's past four after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game. The under is 4-1 in the Panthers' past five in November.
Dolphins at Panthers Betting Prediction
Only the fifth meeting between the teams, with Miami leading 4-1. However, Carolina won the last one 20-16 in south Florida in 2013. Newton converted a late fourth-and-10 at his own 20 and late hit Greg Olsen for the winning TD pass with 46 seconds left. Newton also rushed for a score. Ryan Tannehill threw for 310 yards with a TD and pick for the Fins.
I don't think Carolina is good enough or explosive enough offensively to give 10 points (or really anything above 6.5), so I'd take those for Miami - although I expect a third straight prime-time loss. I prefer the under to the side, however.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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