Week 8 Monday Night Football Picks: Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Did I think the New York Jets were going to beat the New England Patriots last Monday night? Of course not. But with how solid the Jets looked in Sam Darnold's return in upsetting Dallas the week before, sure I thought Gang Green would be competitive and cover a double-digit number. Uh, nope. The Patriots won 33-0, and it could have been 50-0. Darnold had the second-worst quarterback rating in franchise history. At least we got a split by going "under" the total of 42.5.
This week it's one of the least appealing Monday night matchups in recent years with the atrocious, tanking Miami Dolphins (0-6) visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4). As if the Steelers needed any help in this game, they are off a bye week.
I say this once per season while previewing these Monday night games , so I'll use it here: Please, please, ESPN & NFL figure out a way to flex Monday night games late in the season just like you do Sunday night ones. Hey, the Week 17 MNF matchup isn't decided until six days prior. Probably too many issues to move a Monday game to Sunday, I grant you, but dare to dream. Not a great week of prime-time matchups with the Redskins playing Thursday night and the Chiefs on Sunday with Matt Moore under center instead of Patrick Mahomes. Sadly, things aren't much better next Monday because the Giants are involved. Sigh.
Dolphins at Steelers Betting Story Lines
Miami would both benefit and potentially lose for winning here. No matter what Coach Brian Flores might say, the front office "built" this roster to tank with all the trades made, etc. - and I wouldn't be surprised if former starting tailback Kenyan Drake is moved by next Tuesday's trade deadline. Mark Walton has taken over as the featured back, so Drake just isn't needed.
So, the Fins would potentially lose by winning because they really need the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft to get Tua Tagovailoa and give their fan base some hope. The winless Bengals already are a loss ahead. Not sure the Redskins will win another game this season. The Jets stink, and the Falcons have started their fire sale. Miami would win by winning, though, because it owns Pittsburgh's 2020 first-round draft pick (and Houston's) thanks to the trade of cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick earlier this season. That deal made no sense at the time for Pittsburgh and even less now even though Fitzpatrick is a good player.
The Dolphins actually led in Buffalo entering the fourth quarter this past Sunday but then remembered who they were and lost 31-21. For some odd reason, Flores went back to veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback even though he had said previously the job was young Josh Rosen's the rest of the way. Fitz was OK, throwing for 282 yards with a TD and a pick and will start again Monday.
Pittsburgh will have new starting quarterback Mason Rudolph back. He was the subject of a vicious Earl Thomas hit in a Week 5 loss to Baltimore and missed the Steelers' Week 6 upset win at the disappointing Chargers. Undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges got the call and showed he might have a future as a backup in this league.
Steelers inside linebacker Mark Barron (hamstring), cornerback Steve Nelson (groin) and wide receiver James Washington (shoulder) all missed the Chargers game injured but could return this week. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt (abdominal) and cornerbacks Joe Haden (groin) and Mike Hilton (calf) all were hurt during it. The Steelers were to resume practice on Wednesday so should get an update on all of them. No. 2 running back Jaylen Samuels, who has somewhat taken on a Wildcat role, is out following a knee scope. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt tore a pectoral muscle in Week 6 and is done for the year.
Dolphins at Steelers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, Pittsburgh is a 16-point favorite (+108) with a total of 42.5. On the moneyline, the Steelers are -850 and Dolphins +575. On the alternate lines, the Steelers are -15 (-105), -14.5 (-110) and -14 (-123). Miami is 1-1 against the spread on the road and 1-1 "over/under." Pittsburgh is 2-1 ATS at home and 2-1 O/U.
The Dolphins are 1-5 ATS in their past six as double-digit dogs. They are 4-15-1 ATS in their previous 20 night games and 1-8 ATS in their past nine on Monday. The Steelers are 8-1-1 ATS in their past 10 following a cover and 5-1 ATS in their previous six on Monday but have failed to cover five straight as double-digit favorites. The under is 8-2 in Miami's past 10 after a loss. It's 6-1 in Pittsburgh's previous seven against the AFC.
Dolphins at Steelers Betting Prediction
Hard to believe the Dolphins were a playoff team just three seasons ago, but they were and that's the last time they played the Steelers. On Jan. 8, 2017, Miami lost 30-12 in Pittsburgh in the Wild-Card round. Moore was the Fins' QB that day with Ryan Tannehill out, while Pittsburgh still had Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown at that point.
I really never recommend giving more than two touchdowns, so I'll be waiting for Steelers -13.5 and betting that. Go under the total.
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