For the most part, the Miami Dolphins haven’t been a very good team over the last decade or so. The New England Patriots over that time have established themselves as one of the greatest sports dynasties ever.
Yet when the two teams play in Miami, that has totally flipped. It’s strange.
The Patriots have lost four of their last five in Miami, including one to a Jay Cutler-led Dolphins team last season. The Dolphins went 2-8 in their final 10 games but still managed to beat the Patriots. The Tom Brady-Bill Belichick combination has gone 7-9 in Miami.
Is it the humidity? Belichick had perhaps the most Belichick answer of all time for that this week.
“Look, it is what it is out there,” Belichick said when asked about simulating the humidity, according to NESN. “So, whatever it is, it is.”
Home teams have ruled the series lately. The home team in Patriots-Dolphins has won (and covered the spread) in 11 of the last 12, according to OddsShark. And this season, the Patriots have been a different team at home than on the road. New England is 6-0 at home and 3-3 on the road with double-digit losses to the Jaguars, Lions and Titans, teams that are a combined 15-23.
The Dolphins also have been much better in Miami. They’re 5-1 at home and 1-5 on the road. And according to OddsShark, they’re 10-4 against the spread in their last 14 home games against teams with winning records.
On paper it’s hard to make a case for the Dolphins. The Patriots are the far better team and are still in the mix for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They can’t afford to give a game away against the Dolphins. But in most of the Patriots’ losses at Miami they have come in as the better team. I’m sticking with the trend and taking Miami plus-9 on Sunday. Some things in the NFL just can’t be explained.
Here are the against-the-spread picks for Week 14 of the NFL season:
Bills (-3) over Jets: This late in the season, you have to take a look at which teams out of the race might still be playing hard. And the Bills are playing hard. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forget Sean McDermott, in two separate seasons, voluntarily starting Nathan Peterman at quarterback. But he does get the most out of his roster. (The Bills are minus-3.5 in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
Ravens (+6.5) over Chiefs: I’ll go a step further and say I think the Ravens could win this straight up. Whether the Lamar Jackson offense Baltimore runs is sustainable or not (like most people, I don’t think it is), it’s a nightmare to prepare for in the short term. The Ravens pass defense is playing very well, allowing 207, 182 and 97 yards the past three weeks. And we know the Chiefs don’t have Kareem Hunt anymore. This doesn’t seem like a great matchup for Kansas City. (The Ravens are plus-7 in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
Cowboys (-3.5) over Eagles: Last Monday night, at home, the Eagles led by only one point in the fourth quarter against a team that had to turn to Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Philadelphia pulled away late, but it was yet another underwhelming performance. It’s December, and we need to quit wondering if the Eagles from last season are going to re-emerge.
Rams (-3) over Bears: Nothing against the Bears, but I think the Rams are far superior team and still have a lot to play for. They know, with their remaining schedule, if they beat the Bears they’re looking at a 15-1 finish and the NFC’s No. 1 seed. This is their last big challenge. And I think they rise to the occasion.
Vikings (+3.5) over Seahawks: Other than the strange Bills game, the Vikings have followed a pattern: Lose to every team clearly better than them, and beat the rest. And maybe the Seahawks are clearly better than the Vikings. However, I think this is the type of opponent Minnesota can beat. (The Vikings are plus-3 in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
And here are the rest of the picks …
Browns (+1) over Panthers: Maybe the Browns’ pratfall against the Texans last week is what we’ll see out of them the rest of the way, but I doubt it. They did play better in the second half of that game. Meanwhile, the Panthers are a mess. Cam Newton isn’t healthy. I think this game is between two teams going in opposite directions.
Packers (-7) over Falcons: This is too many points with a mediocre Packers team. However, I do think the Mike McCarthy firing gives everyone a reality check. A lot of jobs will be on the line these last four games. And after the Falcons put up 131 yards last week, that’s telling us they’re ready for the season to be done. I doubt going to Green Bay in December will motivate the Falcons to play harder.
Buccaneers (+9.5) over Saints: The Buccaneers can definitely score. Jameis Winston is playing better. It also wouldn’t shock me to see the Saints put up 40 on the Tampa Bay defense, but it’s a lot of points for a home underdog who can always get a backdoor cover.
Giants (-3.5) over Redskins: Can’t feel great about the Giants on the road, but I’m not picking a Mark Sanchez-led Redskins offense.
Texans (-4.5) over Colts: What we saw from the Jaguars on Thursday night actually makes me wonder more about the Colts. How did they get shut out by a Jacksonville team that, in every other game the past two months, looks like it has quit? Also, the Texans taking apart the Browns was impressive. That sounds funny, but this isn’t the same old Browns. They’re better. And the Texans handled them. Houston looks very confident.
Bengals (+15.5) over Chargers: I don’t love the Bengals but there might be some look-ahead concern for the Chargers. They play the Chiefs on Thursday night.
Broncos (-5.5) over 49ers: The Broncos offense relied heavily on Emmanuel Sanders. Now that he’s done for the season with an unlucky injury suffered in practice, it’s kind of scary in the passing game.
Steelers (-12.5) over Raiders: Hate laying this many points with a road favorite, especially one like Pittsburgh that historically is much worse on the road, but I don’t want to look up at the end of the first quarter and see the Raiders behind 21-0 after picking them.
Cardinals (+1) over Lions: Answer me this: What have you seen out of the Matt Patricia-led Lions that leads you to believe they should be favored on the road against anyone?
Last week: 7-9
Season to date: 93-92-8
SuperContest: 1-4 last week, 28-35-2 season to date
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