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Thursday Night Betting Free Pick – Can Dolphins Keep Rolling Against Patriots?

Posted by Matthew Forrester on 10/29/2015 3:02:05 PM

Don’t ask the oddsmakers if the Miami Dolphins are worthy challengers to upend the undefeated New England Patriots in NFL Thursday Night betting. Tom Brady and Bill Belichik are getting a -8.0 point handicap at home against the hottest team over the last two weeks.

What makes this number interesting is that while a win here for the upstart Dolphins seems far fetched to even the keenest imagination, that’s the type of line that New England has failed to cover this season.

New England pushed on a closing line of -7.0 against the New York Jets last weekend at home, winning 30-23 in a game that literally came down to the wire and a mental error by Brandon Marshall. Prior to that, they allowed an overwhelmed Indianapolis team to sneak in the back door during a 34-27 win as -8.0 favorites. They did the exact same thing after burying Pittsburgh in Week 1 with a -7.5 home line, basically allowing Antonio Brown to walk in to the endzone on what was essentially the last play of the game.

Of course, they also received a similar line set at -8.0 three weeks ago against Brandon Weeden and the Cowboys, and demolished them in embarrassing fashion 30-6 on the road.

There’s no question that New England will go pedal to the metal right out of the gates. The question for Thursday Night Football betting is whether or not they’ll keep their foot down. That hasn’t been the case in the majority of the situations facing lines like this and their backers have been caught in the pileup as Belichik pumped the brakes on the top scoring offense in the league.

Miami Dolphins (3-3) vs. New England Patriots (6-0)

Thursday Night Football Betting Line: New England -8.0 (51.5)

The Dolphins, however, are a divisional opponent that are beginning to sneak up in the standings after two, gigantic wins. The problem is that those victories came against Houston and Tennessee, two of the worst teams in the league by almost any metric. I get that winning by combined scores of 82-36 under a new coaching regime is exciting, but we should be cautious here.

Miami has responded to Dan Campbell in a way that they never did with Joe Philbin. That’s largely because they’re completely different people. The bland and almost complacent personality of Philbin has been replaced by the fiery spirit and sarcastic tone of Campbell, which has kickstarted an engine that was starting to collect dust in South Beach.

Tannehill has been near perfect in two games, throwing for 40-of-48 completions, 548 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 picks in matchups against Tennessee and Houston. And the rushing attack has gone in to full attack mode with Lamar Miller putting up 351 all purpose yards and 3 touchdowns in those games.

Again, those are great results. But Miami doesn’t get to play another terrible team in Thursday Night Football betting. They’re getting the best team in the entirety of the NFL.

NOTEWORTHY TRENDS

New England is 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS against Miami

Miami is 30-13 ATS when playing on the road against a winning home team

Miami is 1-5 ATS when playing AFC East teams

New England is 14-6-1 ATS in last 21 home games

New England is 4-1 ATS when playing in Week 8

I am a fan of Lamar Miller. I don’t think Ryan Tannehill is a bad option to build around at all. There are a lot of key pieces on this offense, but they’re missing a vital one by lacking a true, downfield threat. The box will already be compressed against the threat of Miller, and Miami’s key receivers are all used primarily in shorter yardage option routes. That’s not a recipe to beat New England, which is exceptional at blanket zone coverage regardless of personnel.

Teams with big play threats like Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall have been able to shift New England around defensively and spread them out a bit too much. There’s nobody like that on the Miami roster, which is imperative to making an informed Thursday Night Football betting pick.

As much as we want to make this game a Miami coming out party, we have to also realize that Tom Brady is going to whip a defense that hasn’t proven capable at really stopping anyone except the truly awful. This is the same defense that gave up 41 points to Buffalo, 27 against the Jets and 23 to Jacksonville. Imagine what Brady and the top scoring offense in the NFL can do to guys like Jamar Taylor and Brent Grimes in the secondary. It’s not going to be pretty.

Again, the backdoor threat is always available against New England, but not when you’re missing a guy who can stream downfield and haul in big catches. This game could very well end up being a catastrophe for the momentum that Miami has built up. I still like what they can do to the rest of the NFL.

But against these Patriots in a prime time game in an important division matchup with the Patriots obviously going for a perfect record? No thank you.

Thursday Night Football Betting Free Pick – New England -8.0

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