NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens
The worst contract in Major League Baseball right now probably belongs to either Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera. They will each be first-ballot Hall of Famers, but their bodies are breaking down and their mega-deals stretch into the 2020s. There are probably too many crappy contracts in the NBA to pick just one, although the Grizzlies' Chandler Parsons and Knicks' Joakim Noah immediately come to mind. Two good players but haven't been healthy for a while.
My vote for worst contract in the NFL belongs to Joe Flacco - in fact, he might own the two worst of this decade. After winning Super Bowl MVP honors following the 2012 season, Flacco got a six-year, $120.6 million extension to become the NFL's highest-paid player at the time. The Ravens really had no choice as Flacco had played fantastic football in that postseason so he had all the leverage.
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But that contract was so onerous against the salary cap that the team gave Flacco another three-year, $66.4 million deal with a $44 million signing bonus in March 2016 even though his play had really started slipping. As of right now, Flacco might be the worst starting quarterback in the league who isn't a rookie. The only guy with a lower rating is Cleveland rookie DeShone Kizer, and he has been benched twice in the past few weeks. So might the Ravens think about moving on from Flacco this offseason if the team misses the playoffs again? Coach John Harbaugh maybe, but not Flacco. He carries a dead cap hit of $28.75 million next year so that's not doable. In 2019 that number drops to a potential dead cap hit of $16 million. Still too much. The out year would be in 2020 when Flacco's dead cap number would be $8 million.
Baltimore (3-4) isn't going to win the AFC North as that will go to Pittsburgh, which already owns one head-to-head victory over its rival. I think it will take a wild-card spot to save Harbaugh's job. I guess that's possible because the remaining schedule isn't too tough. The only teams with current winning records left on the slate after Miami are: at Tennessee (Week 9), at Green Bay (Week 11 - this is much easier now with Aaron Rodgers out), Week 12 vs. Houston and Week 14 in Pittsburgh. Split those four and win all the others, including Thursday vs. Miami, and the Ravens should be in. I'm not predicting that, however.
I was going to talk about how overrated Jay Cutler is as well for the Dolphins (4-2), but he won't be on the field Thursday night and might have lost his final NFL starting job for good depending on what happens the next few weeks.
Dolphins at Ravens Betting Story Lines
Miami has a winning record despite a negative-20 point differential. It was almost swept in the season series against the Jets but won 31-28 on Sunday at home. Cutler took a big hit from Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins early in the third quarter and wouldn't return. He has a few cracked ribs and could miss 2-3 weeks. Dolphins fans were calling for Matt Moore, one of the better backups in the NFL, as it was. He led Miami to a comeback vs. the Jets with two fourth-quarter TD passes and finished 13 of 21 for 188 yards. I actually think Adam Gase would have made a change even if Cutler wasn't hurt; now Moore can potentially win the job for the rest of the season. He was 2-1 as a starter late last regular season when Ryan Tannehill was out. Moore also started the wild-card game in Pittsburgh, an easy Steelers victory.
If Flacco and the Baltimore offense were simply decent this year, the Ravens probably should be 5-2. Here's a list of the starting quarterbacks they have faced: Andy Dalton, Kizer, Blake Bortles, Ben Roethlisberger, E.J. Manuel, Mitchell Trubisky and Case Keenum. Dalton is OK and Big Ben a future Hall of Famer (although also not clearly what he once was). Then you have a couple of journeyman backups (Manuel, Keenum), a turnover-machine (Bortles) and two rookies in over their heads this early in their career (Kizer and Trubisky).
Flacco threw for just 186 yards in Sunday's 24-16 loss in Minnesota. The Ravens' only TD came on the final play of the game. There were an NFL-record nine field goals in that one, three by Baltimore's Justin Tucker. Flacco could have a bunch of anonymous receivers on the field for this one because Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman both missed the Minnesota game injured and Mike Wallace left with a concussion. You could be looking at guys such as Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore and Chris Matthews getting all the playing time.
Dolphins at Ravens Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Baltimore is a 3-point favorite (-125) with a total of 38. On the moneyline, the Ravens are -170 and Dolphins +150. On the alternate line, Baltimore is -3.5 (+100). Miami is 3-2-1 against the spread (2-1 on road) and 1-5 "over/under" (0-3 on road). Baltimore is 3-4 ATS (1-2 at home) and 4-3 O/U (1-2 at home).
The Dolphins are 4-1-1 ATS in their past six in October. The Ravens are 5-15-2 ATS in their past 22 after a loss. They are 0-4 ATS in their past four at home vs. a team with a winning road record. The under is 8-0-1 in Miami's previous nine on Thursday. It's 11-5 in Baltimore's past 16 at home. The road team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Dolphins at Ravens at Raiders Betting Prediction
Last year, the Ravens covered for the seventh straight time in this series with a 38-6 home blowout. I take little from that because Flacco was actually great with 381 yards passing and four touchdowns. Tannehill wasn't good, picked off three times.
This is an odd game to choose because I tend to lean the home side on these quick turnarounds if all else is close to equal. I don't think Miami is all that great to pick on the road, but the Ravens' receiver group is likely going to be awful. Moore is probably an upgrade on Cutler, and Jay Ajayi could have a nice game vs. the Ravens' No. 32 run defense. Take the 3.5 points and go under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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