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Bater’s Best Bets: Week 17 NFL

Previous Week’s Record:  2-1
Overall Season Record:  26-18 

 

As we finish this first year of NFL Best Bets, we are glad to do so with a guaranteed winning record and having provided a little respite from the sheer awfulness that was 2020. 

 

Now we begin 2021 with an injection of optimism and perhaps facing the biggest challenge of the season thus far, because Week 17 is perhaps the riskiest of the past 20 years to gamble in. 

 

Think about it: As of Thursday, the Cleveland Browns were facing a potential win-or-go-home game unable to practice because of COVID-19 cases on the team, the Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting their most important starters but the Buffalo Bills may or may not pull theirs. Add the fact that the Los Angeles Rams will place their own playoff hopes in the hands of a backup quarterback who has never thrown a pass in the NFL and you have a recipe for craziness in the making. 

 

Alas, we go forth and place our bets because we are bold with Mahomian confidence and a healthy dose of Fitzmagic. 

 

You can find all odds for this weekend here, via Yahoo! Sports. 

 

BUFFALO BILLS (12-3) vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS (10-5) 

 

The Bills are just 1.5-point favorites at home. Hosts usually are at least a +3, so that means Vegas is thinking that the Bills will A) rest their starters or B) play at least a healthy portion of the game with Matt Barkley as their QB. 

 

This will be Tua’s first start against the Bills, who defeated the Fitzpatrick-led Dolphins 31-28 in a game that had the Fins leading 20-17 with six minutes left in the game before consecutive passing touchdowns by Josh Allen. 

 

If Tua can clear the cobwebs in his mind and play with confidence while the Dolphins defense plays with much more zeal and desperation than a Bills offense looking to stay healthy, I like Miami to win and finish fifth in the AFC. 

 

My pick: Bills 24-27 Dolphins (+1.5) 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS (5-10) vs. DALLAS COWBOYS (6-9)    

 

The most meaningful game for two teams that hope to drunkenly stumble into a playoff game at home. The Indianapolis Colts may miss the playoffs with a 11-5 record in the AFC, but the NFC East might gift the 6-10 Giants a divisional title. 

 

The Cowboys have won three games in a row averaging 36.0 points per game during that streak, while the Giants lost all the swagger they had after beating the Seahawks in Seattle and have averaged 8.6 points per game during their latest three-game slide. In fact, they haven’t scored more than 20 points since Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles. 

 

Dalton is hot, New York is not. 

 

My pick: Giants 17-20 Cowboys (-2) 

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS (12-3) vs. CHICAGO BEARS (8-7) 

 

The Bears have lost eight of their last nine against the Packers and haven’t prevailed in Green Bay since 2015, when Jay Cutler was their quarterback. 

 

Aaron Rodgers was the Packers QB back then and he still is now, with the NFC’s number one seed and consequent bye week in his sights and the fresh memories of putting up 41 points and four touchdowns on the Bears in Chicago during a 41-25 spanking that was 41-10 after three quarters in Week 12. 

 

A motivated Rodgers is a lethal Rodgers, and I’m afraid that the Bears will be glued to the TV in the locker room hoping for a Rams win over the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. 

 

My pick: Packers (-5.5) 31-20 Bears  

Tua Tagovailoa had reason to celebrate as the Dolphins won in his first NFL start against the Rams.

Martin’s Best Week 16 NFL Bets: Dolphins and More

Previous Week’s Record:  1-2
Overall Season Record:  24-17 

 

We have arrived in the last week of 2020 for the NFL, the penultimate one of the season. And you know what? Good riddance to the worst year ever. The one that made us play with fear and uncertainty, the one that infected players and coaches from coast to coast, the one that kept fans away from cheering on the teams they love!  

 

No matter what happens the rest of this year, the best bet you should make is that 2021 will be better for everyone.   

 

Now let’s take a look at what Week 16 has in store for us. One thing is for sure, I am not putting any money on the Pittsburgh Steelers. They couldn’t even beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football to give us a winning slate last time around. For shame. 

 

You can find every game’s odds here on the Yahoo! Sports website. We took the ones as of Thursday morning. 

 

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (7-7) vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS (9-5)  

 

Two teams heading in opposite directions.  

 

The Raiders are 1-4 in their last five games, just a push away from being eliminated from playoff contention and from their 17th season with eight or fewer wins in their last 18 tries dating to 2003. Their defense has allowed 36.0 points per game since they were 6-3.   

 

The Dolphins are 8-2 in their last 10 and 5-2 with Tua as their promising starting quarterback that doesn’t seem to make the same mistake twice. He takes care of the ball and the defense forces opposing turnovers while allowing 21 points or less in five of their past six contests. 

 

I don’t really care whether Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota start at quarterback for the Raiders. I’m going with the Dolphins, and the Raiders don’t even cover at home. 

 

My pick: Raiders 20-27 Dolphins (-3) 

 

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (6-8) vs. CAROLINA PANTHERS (4-9) 

 

The NFC East is such a shitshow that it is currently being led by a team whose owner currently believes he is the victim of a extortion while their backup quarterback is fined for “pulling a Harden” (AKA breaking COVID-19 protocols for stupid reasons). 

 

An organization in such a state of disarray shouldn’t be just two wins away from a division title and the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs, and yet that is exactly where the Ron Rivera Riverboaters find themselves.  

 

Christian McCaffrey looks to be MIA for the Panthers for the sixth straight game, and why wouldn’t he be? All his presence can do is increase his risk of aggravating his quad injury and putting Carolina’s top five draft pick in jeopardy. 

 

The Panthers have allowed seven sacks combined in their past two games against the Broncos (11th in the league in that category) and the Packers (10th). Now they will face a hellacious Washington front four led by rookie sensation Chase Young that’s tied for fourth in the league in sacks. 

 

My pick: Washington (-2) 20-17 Panthers  

 

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PICK 

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-8) vs. BUFFALO BILLS (11-3) 

 

As if 2020 wasn’t bizarre enough, we end it with the division-leading Buffalo Bills that boasts a quarterback that is also an MVP candidate facing a Patriots team with nothing to play for and serious questions under center for this game and for the future. It’s like the Freaky Friday of football. 

 

The Pats were a Cam Newton fumble away from at least forcing overtime in Buffalo back in Week 8, but they ended up losing 24-21 instead during what would be the beginning of the end for them. 

 

The Bills’ offense has averaged 34.8 points per game since then, and they are a Kyler Murray Hail Mary in Arizona away from being 8-0 since Week 7. 

 

Their firepower and motivation to secure the second seed in the AFC will be too much for Belichick and his players to overcome. 

 

My pick: Bills (-7) 31-23 Patriots   

Betting Better: How to Win in the NFL Game

Though betting in the NFL may still pose some risk percentage, there are still useful ways to improve your winning chances when placing a wager. Most bettors just kind of know the tip of the iceberg when predicting some game’s outcome, but there are still some critical betting factors that only a few people take into account, and that’s what makes them expert bettors. 

 

If you’re still reading here, then you will know in a bit what some of these vital betting factors are. As long as you’re open and willing to learn, you will soon reap the rewards and will shortly become a better NFL bettor. To explain further, provided below are some powerful tips that help improve your winning chances in NFL betting. 

Look For The Edge

One of the best ways to gain a better chance of winning your NFL bet is to look for some clear edge in some matches by trying to identify which is the best NFL team to win in a particular game. There will always be those matches where the other team is dominating over the other, though there is still a risk of losing, the percentage is far lesser than most typical games. 

 

For example, the Philadelphia Eagles are not in the top ranks but still have an incredible offense. They won 5 games against teams in the top 15 defense. Although they won in the two games, they even failed to cover the spread of 6.5 when they played against these two teams, especially with the ones that have higher passing defenses that ranked 12th and 10th in the league. They had a rough time going through their opponents’ pass defenses. 

 

When they played against a team with a passing defense ranked 24th, they easily won by 38-21, covering a higher spread of 7.5. And when they played against Arizona, whose strongest passing defense only ranked 30th in the league, it was a no-brainer match for them, and got the easy W. 

 

Given that it was an easy win against the team ranked 24th, how much more against a team who’s passing defense ranked 30th? This is what pro bettors call an edge. Pro bettors identify these edges so easily because they do their homework way better than typical bettors do.

Set A Safe Budget

One of the most common cliches that every bettor has heard is to “only bet money that you can afford to lose.” Being too familiar with this idea, many bettors tend to sweep this truth under the rug. And for some, they continue to bet whenever they want without reservations. With that said, it is one of the best formulas to become broke in betting. 

 

Expert bettors consider the worst-case scenarios all the time, especially when things do not go their way. With that said, successful bettors, most of the time, prevent gambling temptations by limiting a budget only for betting. They make it a non-negotiable! That’s why they are successful in a general perspective.   

Numbers Don’t Lie

Another essential attitude when engaging in NFL betting is to check the numbers because they never lie. Numbers like facts, statistics, ranks in the offense, ranks in defense, etc., reveal almost every strength and weakness of all the currently active teams. And not everyone takes the time to study and analyze these critical factors.  

Many bettors, mostly amateurs, make poor bet judgments because they tend to rely on uneducated guesses or emotions rather than do their research and acknowledge what the current numbers tell. This is where most bettors lose their money and fail. Acknowledging the numbers and facts in NFL betting are critical components to become a successful bettor.

Continue Expanding Your Game Knowledge

Expanding your game knowledge is one of the critical components to increase your winning chances in NFL betting. Successful NFL bettors do not stop learning things about the sport. Even though they have become so familiar with the game’s critical aspects, they do not take this as an excuse to stop studying and learning more about the sport. 

 

For instance, a particular NFL team is ranked 20th in passing defense in the past season. But because they have adjusted their roster by acquiring some key players and a promising rookie in the current season, their defensive qualities and numbers can go up. And who knows, they might just make their way to the top 5 rankings in best passing defense. 

Discipline is Everything

In the game of NFL betting, discipline is everything. If you do not discipline yourself to look for the edge in specific matches, you won’t profit. If you don’t discipline in setting a safe budget, you might end up using important money. 

 

If you don’t discipline yourself by considering what the numbers tell, you will have wrong predictions most of the time. And if you don’t discipline yourself to expand your sports knowledge, your winning chances will decline sooner or later. Although discipline sounds cliche, it undeniably influences the success of a pro bettor. 

Takeaway

The ideas above are beneficial, mainly if your goal is to become a successful bettor. Remember that to absorb these ideas successfully, you must make sure to execute them every time you decide to bet to improve your winning chances in NFL betting significantly.

 

Dolphins Loss Chiefs

Week 15 Dolphins/Patriots Odds and Prediction

 

 

The Miami Dolphins face the New England Patriots in Week 15 at 8-5 and in control of their playoff destiny.

 

Miami Dolphins (8-5) vs New England Patriots (6-7)

Sunday Dec. 20th, 1PM EST

Line: Dolphins -2.5

O/U 41.5

 

For the changing of the guard in the AFC East to be complete the Patriots must be eliminated from playoff contention outright, even though Buffalo has nearly clinched the division.

The Dolphins are just a slight favorite despite a better record and being at home. Both teams are in vastly positions after New England beat Miami convincingly 21-11 in Week 1. Cam Newton has struggled and the Dolphins’ defense has become one of the best in the league.

 

Newton has just five touchdown passes against 10 interceptions but his 11 rushing scores are tied for the second highest total in the NFL. In Week 1 Newton was very efficient through the air completing 15-of-19 passes for 165 yards. However it was on the ground where Newton did his most damage with 15 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns.

Miami is playing much better on both sides of the ball and since Tua Tagovailoa took over at quarterback they are limiting mistakes with the football. Ryan Fitzpatrick started under center in Week 1 and threw three interceptions without a touchdown. Conversely Tua has so far thrown just one pick in seven starts.
New England is the 5th best rushing team in the NFL entering Week 15 averaging 147.5 yards per game, while Miami’s defense ranks 21st in the league allowing 120.2 yards per game. Where Miami excels is in pass coverage and their 16 interceptions are second in the NFL. Xavien Howard leads the NFL with nine picks and has firmly entered the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. Newton will be without wide receiver Julian Edelman which gives him even fewer weapons.

 

Miami will need to be careful as New England still has a solid defense led by Stephon Gilmore, they are right behind the Dolphins with 15 interceptions. Tua will need to take what the defense gives him, and if Mike Gesicki and Devante Parker can go that will give the offense a huge boost.

The Dolphins need to find a running game to help Tua against a tough New England defense, and Bill Belichick will try to take away anything easy. New England’s run defense is worse than Miami’s, ranking 23rd allowing 124 yards-per-game. If Miami can run the ball in this one it bodes well for success to close out the season.

I predict Miami will finally get the ground game going and control a fairly low scoring game. The Dolphins’ defense can force Newton into mistakes and I see that trend continuing in this matchup. Field position will be critical and the Dolphins have perhaps the best kicker and special teams in the NFL.

That could make the difference in a close game.

 

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Patriots 20

 

Related:

Tua Tagovailoa made his debut in a brief appearance, but the big story of the Miami Dolphins is their rise as a playoff contender.

Five Reasons, Martin’s NFL Best Bets: Week 15

Previous Week’s Record:  1-2
Overall Season Record:  23-15
 

 

Note:  Martín had been posting his NFL plays since Week #1 for the Canadian betting site point spreads under the pseudonym of “El Hombre” (that clearly took a lot of imagination on his part). Most importantly, though, is the fact that he has been racking up the profits and now he is able to put his name on his picks (no pressure, we know). Now he makes his Five Reasons gambling debut with three games left in the regular season, he’s hitting about 65 percent winners – wow, not bad for free analysis! – Here is his latest on this week’s games and his three best bets. 

 

All odds are based on the lines from Yahoo! on Friday afternoon. 

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-5) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-7) 

This game is tricky, because my brain is telling me two very different things.

The first is that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is the venom that poisons opposing rookie quarterbacks. He is 21-5 in his career against them, and he hasn´t lost to one since Geno Smith defeated him in 2013 (???). His latest victim was Chargers sensation Justin Herbert, who had a big slice of humble pie in a 45-0 drubbing by the Pats. Tua is not playing better than Herbert this season, even though he did show flashes of his potential against Arizona and most recently mounting a comeback against Kansas City.

On the other hand, these were the coaches of the rookie QBs that Belichick faced since that loss to Geno: Anthony Lynn, Pat Shurmur, Sean McDermott, Bill O´Brien, Jeff Fisher, Tony Sparano.

Brian Flores is better than all of them. He not only knows Belichick´s defensive tendencies after working for him, but he now also has seen what Cam Newton can do as Patriots QB (not much). That was a luxury he didn´t have when the Dolphins lost to the Patriots 21-13 in Week 1 with Fitzpatrick as quarterback and little to no offseason work.

Miami´s defense is leaps and bounds better 14 weeks later, and Tua is brash enough to end Belichick´s streak.

My pick: Dolphins (-2.5) 23-17 Patriots 

 

DALLAS COWBOYS (4-9) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (5-8) 

 

Dallas has a worse record, but more to play for in a must-win game for them to stay alive in the NFC East race. However, they haven´t been able to win two games in a row all season, and that is just sad.

Meanwhile, the Niners are 4-2 on the road with a defense that sits in the top half of the league allowing 23.9 points and didn´t allow an offensive touchdown in last week´s  23-15 loss to Washington.

Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton´s winless playoff record shows us he isn´t known to rise up to the occasion in must-win situations, and they really can´t count on the worst defense in the NFL to do so either.

My pick: Cowboys 20-24 49ers (-3) 

 

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PICK 

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-2) vs. CINCINNATI BENGALS (2-10-1) 

 

The formerly undefeated Steelers are pissed off after consecutive losses and face a Bengals team that is averaging…10.0!? points per game during the five-game losing streak that began when Joe Burrow got injured.

Watch that romantic comedy your girlfriend has been begging you to, stop procrastinating on your Christmas shopping, call your grandma…do anything but watch this game.

My pick: Steelers (-13) 30-10 Bengals 

The Dolphins' Xavien Howard makes a one-handed grab for his ninth interception of the season.

Why do teams keep throwing at Xavien Howard?

It’s no mystery that cornerback, Xavien Howard, has proven himself to be the Dolphins (8-5) best player this season, and one of the best players at the position in the franchise’s history, up there with Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain and others.

Before last Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs (12-1), Howard already had 8 interceptions.

Then he got another. He was guarding Tyreek Hill, and mossed him Odell-style with a one handed interception, leading to an offensive touchdown catch by Mike Gesicki.

The Dolphins overall have had a takeaway in their past 19 games straight and have had 26 total takeaways on the year. Howard’s now 9 interception has obviously been a huge part of those two stats.

While Howard has given up a good amount of yards, he has taken the ball away enough to largely contribute to the Dolphins’ eight wins, playing opposite free agent Byron Jones, who finally got his first interception.

The 27-year-old attended Baylor University and was picked by the Dolphins in the second round of the 2016 season.

In 2018, Howard had 7 interception to tie the league for most interceptions. This was enough to get him a pro bowl spot and get him onto the All-Pro second team.

With 20 career interceptions, Howard has been a great addition to the Dolphins defense over the past 4 years. As many say, defense wins championships, so let’s hope Howard and the rest of the Dolphins defense can bring home the trophy.

And maybe a Defensive Player of the Year along the way, if teams keep taking shots at him.

Tua, Dolphins Bounce Bengals after Brawl, now 8-4

Just when you think the Miami Dolphins are back to the same old team you’ve agonized over for the last 20+ years, they get into a benches-clearing brawl with the Cincinnati Bengals, lose 3 players to ejection, and turn into a completely new team at halftime. Stephen Ross may as well rename the team because these boys ain’t the same.

The first half of the Dolphins’ home game versus the Bengals was a hot mess. Even with Cincinnati starting their backup quarterback, Brandon Allen, who isn’t exactly known for his grace under pressure, the Dolphins looked absolutely lackluster opposite them. Both the offense and defense struggled enormously. The one TD, a sneaky trick play that punter Matt Haack ran in on the field goal attempt, was called back due to penalties. A team usually touted for their lack of penalties ended the day with eight for 54 yards, and penalties weren’t the only mistakes being made.

The one bright spot of the first half was Xavien Howard, who picked off Brandon Allen on his second possession of the game. But then Howard was ejected for a couple of playground-style blows exchanged with Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd (who was also ejected), and the Fins lost their best player down 7-6 at the half. Boyd was arguably the only bright spot of Cincy’s offense up until his ejection. He snagged the only score for the Bengals off a catch and run TD that went for 72 yards—and don’t give Brandon Allen any credit for that, please.

Kyle Van Noy was the only productive defensive player that didn’t get into trouble in the first half, handing out a couple of sacks on Allen. It was a poor outlook for the Dolphins, with many calling for Tua to be benched and replaced with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

We don’t know what Bill Belichick used to say to his team after bad first halves during the Patriots’ dynasty, but whatever it is, Brian Flores apparently knows. The Dolphins opened up the second half on a beautiful no huddle drive that totaled 75 yards in eight plays and three and a half minutes. Tua looked vintage, Alabama-style, slinging balls to Mike Gesicki in between and over the heads of a totally lost Bengals’ secondary. From there, the Dolphins scored two more field goals to secure the game and held the Bengals to 0 points (although kicker Randy Bullock did miss one from 53 to end the first half).

Just as the offense stepped up, Brian Flores’ defense did the same, totaling six sacks, 11 QB hits, and two interceptions. Emmanuel Ogbah and Christian Wilkins teamed up on a strip sack touchdown that was ultimately called back, something Christian Wilkins is apparently still upset about. Shaq Lawson had two sacks himself and Kyle Van Noy added a third in the second half, along with Zach Sieler.

After one of Lawson’s sacks Brandon Allen was ruled out with a chest injury and Ryan Finley stepped in for the rest of the game. He was immediately pummeled by the Dolphins’ defensive line and secondary when Nik Needham came up with the Fins’ second interception of the day.

It was a game to remember, primarily because of a brawl that Brian Flores himself instigated and ended with four players ejected. After an early hit by Mike Thomas on Jakeem Grant, who was violently laid out while returning a punt, Flores had to be physically restrained by his own players, which then resulted in a benches-clearing brawl. Devante Parker and Mack Hollins were both ejected for the Dolphins after exchanging blows with Shawn Williams and William Jackson III. Surprisingly, Grant returned to the game just a few plays later.

The biggest takeaways from this game are the sheer grit of this team, which bounced back after an incredibly disappointing first half performance (something you could never say about the Dolphins before), and the unity in the locker room. Multiple players were quoted calling the team “a family,” and insisting that they stand up for their teammates.

The Heat might not have a monopoly on “culture” in Miami anymore, thanks to Brian Flores.

It is time for Tua Tagovailoa to start at quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.

What is Tua’s Status After Injury?

The Miami Dolphins had a great win from their march with Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday with an ending of 8-4. With that, the team was able to maintain its position in the AFC playoff race ladders and the team’s fans are just now more looking forward to seeing their play now that Tua Tagovailoa is back on the game.

Tagovailoa’s availability for the last game of the Dolphins was questionable due to his thumb injury but he was still able to play last Sunday. His left thumb injury happened when he hit his teammate’s helmet on a follow-through as he attempted to make a pass during the team’s match on November 25. Since then, he was only able to participate in practices with a limited capacity. 

During the match against the Bengals last week, the athlete appeared to have a slow start in the first half of the game with the Bengals but he seems to have been able to ramp it up in the second half.

Even if he is still limited in practice participation for the next game, he will likely be involved in all of the upcoming Dolphins’ schedule. On Wednesday, he was no longer wearing a black splint on his left hand for his injury but coach Brian Flores said that Tua is already feeling better.

Flores said, “Like everyone else, he’s got bumps and bruises he’s attained over the last few games. He’s feeling better as far as the hand. He’s preparing as best he can for a very, very strong opponent. They do a lot of things from a disguise standpoint, a front standpoint. He shed that on his hand but he’s got other issues dealing with the Chiefs.”

As Tua’s injury completely heals, he may be able to play with more ease in the coming weeks. Tua recently talked about the whole experience with the NFL. He said, “It’s a continuous learning process in the NFL. You learn day to day, week to week. There’s always something to learn because defenses aren’t going to stay the same.”

With his return, he was also able to work closely with the veteran offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey. When asked about Gailey, he said, “I’d say I’m comfortable with what I’m given, whatever plays that I’m given, I’m comfortable with them.

“Mind you, we talk about these things, me and Chan, we talk about what I like, talk about what I don’t like. I have as much input as anyone else does in our quarterback room and that’s what makes me feel comfortable to tell Chan, you know, ‘Hey, can we run this, or ‘Can we not run this?’ So, yeah, I would say I’m pretty comfortable with what I’m given.”

There are a few great reasons why Tua will feel more comfortable with being back on the game. He was not sacked last Sunday as he was able to perform solidly. He has also been using up-tempo plays that he enjoys. 

He also explained how seeing the defense helps the team perform. He said, “It helps to see the defense and see what the defense is going to give us.  they want to blitz or if they’re checking out of a blitz into coverage, that helps. That’s the biggest thing — indicator formations.”

Coach Flores also spoke about how Tua has been doing in the professional league. Flores said, “He’s kind of learning on the fly how to be a professional in this league, the things you’ve got to do in meetings and walkthrough and practice, to have success in games. I think he’s improving every day, getting better, and hopefully, we just continue to get better. We are about developing players.”

The coach also said how Tua is a tough and resilient athlete. He’s been accurate and continuously improving. He said that the fact that the athlete did not wear a splint or some sort of brace on this left hand to protect his thumb injury during the practice that is open to the media is a positive act.

Tua is also great inside the locker rooms as he appears to have good relations with his teammates. Raekwon Davis shared how fun Tua could be. Davis said, “Oh, he’s got this little weird dance he does. I recorded him doing it one time. It’s so funny. I don’t know where he got it from, a Hawaiian thing, I guess. He’s got some moves. But I’ve got (Jerome Baker). Bake is the best dancer on the team right now.”

The Miami Dolphins defense is legit

While the Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been in the spotlight for the Phins, the defense has been playing a huge role in the past three games. This defense, led by Emmanuel Ogbah and Xavien Howard has forced a turnover in all games this year except for the first against the Patriots.

The 43-17 win against the San Francisco 49ers, who had just gotten back Jimmy Garropolo and Raheem Mostert, was the first game that really showed off the Dolphins explosive defense. With 3 turnovers, they proved that they had what Miami has been looking for.

In the very next week, the Dolphins blew out the rival New York Jets 24-0. This was the dolphins first time shutting a team out since 2014.

The game that really proved that the Dolphins amazing defense was here to stay was in week 8 against the Los Angeles Rams. With 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 2 fumble recoveries, the defense led Tua to his first career NFL win.

If this series of games doesn’t prove that the Dolphins are for real, then I don’t know what does.

Although the team overall has had great defensive stats, this success can be shown specifically by two team-leading players. Defensive lineman, Emmanuel Ogbah leads the Dolphins with 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Cornerback, Xavien Howard leads the team with 5 interceptions which is the second best in the league only behind J.C. Jackson with 6.

This Dolphins defense and team in general is too good to be slept on any more. I know all Phins fans can’t wait to hopefully see this team in the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

Stock Up & Stock Down Week 9

Welcome back to another installment of Stock Up & Stock Down. In Week 9 of the NFL season against the Arizona Cardinals, we were able to pull of a game that went down to the last posession with a final score of 34-31. The defense had another fumble return for a TD, Tua was elite and Jason Sanders showed how clutch he is. With so much to dissect let’s dive right in:

 

Stock Up

Emmanuel Ogbah:

Every week it feels like we are here talking about Emmanuel Ogbah and I hope it never changes. Ogbah has been well worth the money and now I have to begin to wonder how long he can keep these kinds of performances up for. Ogbah has had at least 0.5 sack in every game besides the game against the Patriots. He already has totaled 6 sacks for the year which has him tied for 8th in the league. What’s great about Ogbah is how active he is in all aspects of the game whether it be rushing the passer, stopping the run and even deflecting passes, he has shown he has all the traits to lead a team in sacks and be dominant player in this league.

 

 

Preston Williams:

Preston Williams looked like he was slowly becoming Tua’s most trusted weapon on an afternoon where he finished second on the team with 4 catches for 60 yards with only DVP having more at 6 catches and 64 yards. The incredible part of that stat is that while DVP managed those stats in 60 minutes, Preston only played until he scored with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. With the way Tua began dealing after the second quarter I have 0 doubts that Preston would have been well on his way to a career day. Let’s hope the foot injury sustained by Christian Wilkins jumping on him to celebrate the TD is not as serious as it looked when we saw him get carted off without either cleat on.

 

Jason Sanders:

As we go deeper in the postseason chase, we are currently in we will begin to appreciate the difference it makes to have a kicker you have 0 concerns with. I will admit that with 3 minutes left I second guessed Coach Flores conservative decision to not go for it and instead settle for the field goal. I only questioned the choice because of Kyler and the offense still having ample enough time to come back the length of the field. Ultimately the results are what they are with Arizona kicker missing the game tying field goal and Jason Sanders showing that we will be able to rely on him when it counts most later on in the year.

 

 

Raekwon Davis:

Raekwon Davis continues to show why Coach Flores was this excited to draft him.

Due to Raekwon position and what it calls for him to do you will rarely see him get the stats that a 4-3 DT like Aaron Donald can get but every week Raekwon has shown an ability to improve and to take coaching to help the overall unit perform better. While giving up 178 yards rushing is not ideal, you have to take for account that only a handful of teams have a player of Kyler caliber who can get 106 yards on 11 carries. Helping hold Chase Edmonds to 25 carries for 70 yards however is very impressive.

 

Tua Tagovailoa:

Hard as it may seem to say, Tua surpassed every expectation we had for him this afternoon. Once he got settled in, he was dealing in ways we are not accustomed to seeing in South Florida. Tua finished his afternoon 20/28 for 248 yards 2 passing TDs and 7 carries for 35 yards. He willed us to a victory on a day that had Kyler Murray show the MVP type of player he is turning into. It did not matter as Tua led us down the field to not only tie put us up 3 but also to kill the clock out and get the win once we got the ball back after the missed Arizona field goal. Tua even showed improvement during the game when he started off 1-5 for 5 yards against the blitz (5 or more rushers) and then ripping it apart in the second half for 6/8 65 yards and a TD. Ultimately Tua showed us all of his skills this afternoon, from throwing with touch, to evading the pass rush and even running the ball somewhat like Kyler (lol). In all seriousness, the sky is the limit for Tua, and I cannot wait to do a deep analysis on him this coming week.

 

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Get the shirt HERE…….

 

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Stock Down

 

The Defense:

As good as that start with the fumble return for a touchdown felt, it was short lived as that was the only success we had as a defense against them and specifically against Kyler. Kyler on the day accumulated a total of 283 yards passing with 3 TDs in the air and also sprinkling on top 11 carries for 106 yards and another TD. 389 yards total with 4 TDs is not a recipe that the Dolphins can repeat with other QBs and expect to come out on top as we did today.

 

Jordan Howard:

I will own up to my failed prediction of Jordan Howard having 75+ yards rushing and a 1 TD. While I was correct in calling the TD, I was horribly incorrect in everything else. Jordan had his longest gain for 8 yards (on the final drive!) which means he gained 11 yards on 9 carries. Truly an atrocious performance where even the rookie Salvon Ahmed was able to get 5 yards a carry on his 7 touches. There is little to no hope left to expect the light to come on for Jordan at this point. Depending on how much time Breida is forced to miss we should look into seeing what Ahmed is really about.

 

 

Coach Flores:

In another game that I expected Coach Flores to use as a statement game to show the league that this Defense and team are the real deal. While the team aspect of that thought came true the defense fell completely flat outside of the fumble return for a TD. All afternoon long it felt like the chess match of Kingsberry vs Flores was being won by the former. Kyler and company always seemed to be one step ahead of us. Even at the end when we went conservative and went for the field goal to break the 31-31 tie it felt like Flo was indecisive as he even burned a timeout to decide what to do. If not for the combined heroics of Tua Tagovailoa and Jason Sanders, I think we’re taking a closer look at the questionable decisions by Coach Flores and staff who to be fair were down 5 coaches due to Covid. Hell, we even had our Tight End coach serve as the QB coach, so I am not going to be as critical.

 

Overall this win becomes another steppingstone for not just Coach Flores or even Tua, these type of wins with the way our young QB was playing energize a team and a city that has been starved for this type of excitement. For what I hope will be the next decade, our Miami Dolphins will have a chance to win every game because of the decision we made on April 23rd, 2020 in drafting Tua Tagovailoa. Till next time guys, Fins Up!

Voices

Dolphins Broncos

Dolphins: The Cheesecake Factory of NFL Backfields

By Michael Christian

 

POTENTIAL HOT TAKE: The Cheesecake factory is one of the most overrated restaurants!

Their menu has what seems like hundreds of entrée options and none of them really blow you away. Instead of specializing their entrée’s and creating some signature dishes, they decided it would be best to have a bunch of options to make give everyone a choice, but they all are mediocre at best.

The Miami Dolphins running game has sort of become the Cheesecake Factory of NFL backfields.

The backfield currently consists of five running backs with very similar skill sets and body types. The problem is that none of them truly excels. At least that is what it seems like 11 games into the season.

Let’s look at their stats:

 

Anybody stand out to you? No? Didn’t think so.

There is no consensus on which of these running backs is best. Throughout the season each running back has had moments where you got excited and want to see more but then they fumble, allow a sack, or drop a crucial pass.

The Dolphins, under Flores and Grier decided that a Cheesecake Factory like approach to their backfield was their best bet. Instead of investing heavily in one running back, the Dolphins decided to spread the wealth and hope that one of them was the answer.

Gaskin was a seventh-round draft choice, Breida was acquired for a fifth-round pick, Washington was traded for mid-season, and Ahmed and Laird were both undrafted.

None of these options cost much in terms of resources, and it shows in the performance of the run game each week.

At this point in the season the Dolphins are contending for a playoff spot, and no one has a clear picture as to who the lead back is. I’d argue that the Dolphins aren’t even sure as proven by the constant rotations and minimal running in the Jets game.

I would give Washington the most touches as he is a better pass blocker and seems to have a bit more wiggle to his game, but he is currently limited with a hamstring injury. Due to the injury, and just the way Flores likes to run his team, I expect the lead running back will be a fluid situation featuring whichever running back practiced best that given week.

The Cheesecake Factory approach, when it comes to running backs, has not uncovered a gem for the Dolphins so far this season. Now, we just have to hope that one of the five guys will be enough to help keep our offense moving forward, and our quarterback standing up long enough to make it to the playoffs.

5 Reasons Contributors on Dolphins-Jets “clash”

The Miami Dolphins are favored for the first time in forever against unintentionally-tanking former coach Adam Gase and the hapless New York Jets.

We asked some of our Five Reasons Sports contributors to assess the matchup.

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Though matchups between divisional opponents—especially when a head coach is going up against his former team—are supposed to be interesting, this one probably won’t be. The Jets are a dumpster fire this year led by Adam Gase, who should be on the hot seat after starting off this season 0-5 and finishing last year with a 7-9 record and whatever bag of chips you’re rewarded for being 3rd in the AFC East. 

 

Not to mention that the Jets somehow managed to waive Le’Veon Bell, arguably one of the best runningbacks in the league and almost certainly their best player, instead of trading him and getting at least something for him. Bell walks away with a cool $28 mil and the Jets walk away with… another bag of chips? Don’t ask Adam Gase about Bell though; those questions are “irrelevant.”

 

Without Bell and QB Sam Darnold, who is still nursing a shoulder injury, New York will have to hope veteran backup Joe Flacco can put something together. Flacco was 18 of 33 for 195 yards and a single touchdown in last week’s embarrassing 30-10 loss to Arizona.

 

The Dolphins, meanwhile, have started to show some grit with a big 43-17 win over last year’s Super Bowl contenders, the San Francisco 49ers, last week. Though the 9ers were decimated by injuries, the Fins showed some true potential on both sides of the ball, totaling five sacks and two interceptions on defense and 444 total yards of offense led by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s best performance of the season (including a QBR of 99.1, the highest of any quarterback this year). 

 

The only way this game could get interesting is if Bell signs with Miami, considered as of now to be one of his top three landing spots. There’s nothing better than a revenge game, right?

— Kylie Wang

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The Miami Dolphins are preparing to take on a division rival in the New York Jets this Sunday, bringing back an old face in Adam Gase. And with Sam Darnold out,  Joe Flacco, an old Dolphins nemesis, will be under center for the Jets once again this week. 

Flacco has been very successful against the Dolphins with a total of 7 wins and 0 losses. — six wins in the regular season and one in the postseason.

His regular season numbers over those 6 starts against Miami include completing 71 percent of his passes with 10 TD’s to 3 INT’s and adding 1 rushing touchdown. In his last start in 2017, the Dolphins got embarrassed 40-0 even as Flacco’s outing ended early on the controversial hit by then-Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Fast forward to Sunday’s game, though, and times are different for the former Super Bowl MVP. His best days are behind him and he is currently on the worst team in the NFL.

The Dolphins are favored by eight. Don’t expect Flacco to keep it that close.

— Jaccare Givens 

 

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With an annihilation of the 49ers on the road comes some expectations.

We have learned that Miami can win and play good teams tough with “Fitzmagic”.  They have little to no hope with “Fitztragic”.  In this case, Miami has a decided talent advantage, are home, and confidence is riding high.  The last time I said this team had real expectations, was the Thursday night beat down of the Jaguars.  I expect much of the same.  It is required.  No letdowns allowed.

Miami Dolphins 30  NY Jets 16

— Alfredo Arteaga

 

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Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has shown that with inferior competition he can devise strong game plans. That will continue. I expect the Dolphins to take an early lead behind the arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick attacking downfield to DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Preston Williams. Once the adrenaline starts to fade, an ugly, punt filled late afternoon will take place with whichever team can establish the run coming out on top. I trust Coach Flores to take advantage of the early lead and let his pass rushers like Emmanuel Ogbah, Andrew Van Ginkel, Jerome Baker and maybe the banged-up Kyle Van Noy go to work. Jason Saunders will also extend his consecutive streak of field goals to start the year and in the process break Olindo Mare’s record for overall consecutive field goals of 19 to his 20.

Dolphins 27 Jets 13

— Juan Cardona 

Coronavirus and Sports: Becoming Numb

I was going to write about Inter Miami, I really was. Maybe it would have been an upbeat preview about the “MLS Is Back” schedule reveal (Breakfast with Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire at 9 a.m. on July 14, can you dig it?) or a more serious, ominous look at the league and its protocols as we are only 2 weeks away from the start of the first tournament in the United States after the pandemic.

But then I thought “AFTER the pandemic? We are barely during the pandemic, much less past it” and I discovered I’m sort of…detached? Nah, that’s not the word. I still follow the American sports landscape and want sports to be back. Shocked? That’s not it either, nothing that has happened the past three months has surprised me even a little, and that’s saying something. Numb? Yes, that’s it. I’m numb to the developments in the sports world nowadays, and I’m pretty sure other fans, writers and even players feel similarly.

I’m numb because I saw the news about 16 NBA players (the equivalent of an entire team’s roster, plus one) testing positive for COVID-19 and my reaction isn’t “Oh my, what if they backtrack and the season is cancelled?” It’s more like “I’m fine with whatever happens, I’m just waiting to see everyone freak out when a true superstar tests positive and [insert team here] has to play an entire series without him.”

I’m numb because “43 Division I teams have been eliminated in the last 12 weeks, and more than 130 programs have been cut across all NCAA levels”, and those kids weren’t earning millions of dollars, even as some of their coaches were and certainly their athletic departments are.

LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION

New Zealand is past the pandemic with tens of thousands gathering with joy to watch a rugby match most of them probably don’t remember the final score of. Europe is crowning champions as its cases are mostly going down (hello, Sweden, we see you) and fans celebrate the end of droughts in Liverpool and Naples as the ball keeps rolling with no apparent setbacks week after week.

Liverpool fans celebrate outside Anfield.

Even South America has soccer, but that’s because they don’t really give a shit in Brazil and they are bent on living like there is literally no tomorrow and they had the most new daily cases in the world on Thursday, June 25. Seems healthy.

Meanwhile, the United States of America is looking at itself in the mirror and wonders how it all went so wrong, so quickly after three months of sacrifices that were supposed to pave the way for sports to come back swiftly and smoothly.

We are Rachel and the Coronavirus is Ross asking: “OVER you? When were you UNDER me?” while we beat ourselves up wondering what went wrong and the President compares a deadly virus to the sniffles.

I’m numb because baseball is about to be back for a lightning round of games that promise to be exciting. Why am I not excited? I should be, with every game being three times as important and the potential of a repeat of that frantic 2011 finish of the regular season that gave every baseball fan a collective heart attack.

My heart rate is nowhere near skyrocketing, though. Some experts don’t even think the season will be able to finish.

I should be pumped to witness the start of the Tua era in Miami, but then I see that the Hall of Fame game between the Cowboys and the Steelers was cancelled and I’m bracing for what August and September might bring.

I’m even numb to the added crowd noise and the “virtual fans” we see at European soccer games. It’s background noise.

Maybe you read this and thought I spent 700 words being dramatic, and that’s ok. Maybe you will feel numb or jaded until 2021, and that’s ok too. Maybe this is just temporary, and everything feels a little alien after 100+ days of uncertainty and I will be all pumped up again in a couple of weeks when sports feel “real” again.

I will be waiting for that moment to come.

Now, Josh Rosen needs to earn it

DAVIE – So it begins. The Josh Rosen era? At this point it’s the onset of the audition.

Coach Brian Flores prefers to view it as a competition.

Though few outsiders believe Rosen won’t be behind center when the Dolphins open the 2019 season, it is in the best interest of the franchise that the second-year quarterback acquired from the Arizona Cardinals must show he merits the job.

That is as it should be. If Rosen really has the makings of a franchise quarterback, it should be no sweat to earn the starting job.

If not, it will become apparent to the coaching staff through the course of offseason work, training camp and the exhibition season.

Flores made that point recently and the process began this week with the first week of offseason organized team activities for veterans and rookies.

Tuesday was the first full session open to the media and the largest turnout in years for OTAs – it’s offseason practice! – assembled to get a glimpse of Rosen in action.

For the record, when they began running plays in 7-on-7 drills, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick was lined up with the starting receiving corps of Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant and Mike Gesicki.

There certainly was a message in that, for Rosen as well as for the media to pass along to the fan base.

Remember, it’s a competition – even if it’s really a charade (wink, wink).

Notably, Fitzpatrick was the sharper quarterback through the course of the session.

When it was Rosen’s turn, he fired a strike over the middle on his first pass. His second was picked off by Sam Eguavoen, a former CFL linebackers and returned to the end zone.

Rosen also fumbled a couple of snaps at the beginning of practice.

None of which, of course, is of any consequence. As Flores said, “We’re not making cuts today.”

It’s May, and much of this rebuilding team is still putting names to faces and learning the way to their respective lockers.

“You kind of underestimate from the outside looking in all the logistical issues from having to have to move and uproot your place,” Rosen said after the workout. “I’m walking into the receivers room thinking it’s the bathroom. But when you step on the field you’ve just got let all that go and just play football.”

Rosen’s twitter account featured a photo from Monday’s session of its smiling namesake under center and the message, “Great to be back on the field and just play football.”

 

Rosen’s predecessor, Ryan Tannehill, waited until the beginning of his final season in Miami to try to project some personality via social media, but the effort kind of fizzled out – like his tenure.

It was refreshing that the absence of No. 17 in the quarterback corps isn’t due to injury. (Wide receiver Brice Butler now wears Tannehill’s old number).

It was more than time to try something different and it begins with competition (really, it is) between a 37-year-old journeyman and a top-10 draft pick who has already been discarded by the team that traded up to select him and acquired by the Dolphins for a No. 2 draft pick.

The intrigue of a rebuilding season will be in where that leads under the direction of a rookie head coach and staff, many of them with connections to the Patriots’ extended run of success.

“We’re looking for guys who can consistently move the ball down the field,” Flores said of the quarterback competition.

Flores has said that he welcomes players wanting to know the why of things, which has been portrayed as a criticism of Rosen in Arizona.

“I appreciate it. Our meeting room has been really productive, really good,” Rosen said, noting that he’s already picked up valuable guidance from quarterback coaches Jim Caldwell and Jerry Schuplinski. “It’s always about progress. I just want to keep taking steps forward and I think they’re helping me do that.”

During Tuesday’s 90-minute session, with players in shorts, Rosen showed some zip and the ability to connect with receivers in coverage.

He lobbed a deep ball on the mark that should have gone for a touchdown but it slipped through the hands of Parker. Some things don’t change.

“Obviously, he’s a talented player – big arm. But like everyone else he’s got a long way to go – [on] fundamentals, technique, playbook,” Flores said of Rosen, who did display some pocket presence in dancing away from a rusher and completing a short pass.

This week is about formulating early impressions. Drawing firm conclusions is still months away.

As Flores noted, this stage of the offseason program is still voluntary. Veteran safety Reshad Jones elected not to attend as he did during the first offseason minicamp last month.

But for most of the 91 players on the roster, the audition is underway.

“Everybody is getting evaluated in this building every day. Period,” Flores said. “That’s just what it is.”

When it comes to the quarterback sweepstakes, that’s a good thing, no matter who ends up winning it (wink, wink).

One way or another the Dolphins will find out if he is the player to lead them into the future or whether they’ll need to dip back into the talent pool and find someone else next year.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns

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