Dolphins vs. Steelers Odds & Picks: Trust Miami to Cover?

Dolphins vs. Steelers Odds & Picks: Trust Miami to Cover? article feature image

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

  • The Miami Dolphins are once again double-digit dogs. Should you take the points against the Pittsburgh Steelers?
  • Our experts break down the 14-point spread and make their picks for this Monday Night Football showdown.

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Dolphins at Steelers Odds & Picks

  • Odds: Steelers -14
  • Over/Under: 43.5
  • Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: ESPN

Odds as of Sunday evening and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

The Miami Dolphins are looking for their first win of the season, but they’ll face a rested and healthy Pittsburgh Steelers team on the road. Does Ryan Fitzpatrick have what it takes to pull the upset in Pittsburgh?

Our experts break down this Monday Night Football matchup, complete with analysis of the betting odds and a staff pick.

Monday Night Football Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Steelers

The Dolphins have CB Xavien Howard (knee), who has missed the last two games with a knee injury, listed as questionable. And while it’s not an injury, the Kenyan Drake didn’t travel with the Dolphins to Pittsburgh, so he’ll be out as he’s expected to be traded in the coming days.

Coming off the bye, the Steelers will be close to full strength. They’ll get Mason Rudolph back from his concussion, along with WR James Washington, who has been out with a shoulder injury. They could also be getting RB Jaylen Samuels (knee) back after he practiced in full all week following his knee procedure a few weeks ago. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Steelers Running Backs vs. Dolphins Linebackers

The Dolphins have had to deal with negative game script, which has inflated their opponent rushing numbers. Still, they’ve allowed a league-high 139 yards rushing per game this year to opposing running backs. Not all of that can be explained away just because they have lost all their games.

They’ve lost in part because they can be run on easily.

The Dolphins have allowed opposing backs to rush for 4.8 yards per carry, the sixth-highest mark in the league. In terms of volume and efficiency, running backs have exploited the Dolphins on the ground. They are No. 31 in running back rushing success rate allowed with a 57% mark (per Sharp Football Stats).

And they are even worse in pass defense against running backs, who have a league-high 68% receiving success rate against the Dolphins. No team has allowed more yards per target to opposing backs than the Dolphins have with their mark of 9.9.

Although they have a promising player in Raekwon McMillan, the Dolphins have serious issues in the middle of their defense. Collectively, their linebackers have very poor Pro Football Focus run defense and coverage grades.

  • Jerome Baker: 382 snaps, 45.1 run defense, 50.9 coverage
  • Sam Eguavoen: 285 snaps, 50.6 run defense, 51.0 coverage
  • Raekwon McMillan: 191 snaps, 70.4 run defense, 45.0 coverage

The struggles of that unit explain why the Dolphins are No. 32 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric in both run defense and pass defense against running backs.

The Steelers returning from a bye, so they should be rested and ready. More importantly, they are expected to get a slew of offensive players back from injury:  Rudolph, Washington, Samuels tight end Vance McDonald (shoulder) and fullback Roosevelt Nix (knee) are all expected to play.

With Rudolph, Washington and McDonald, the passing game will be good enough to keep the Dolphins from selling out to stop the run. And with Samuels and Nix back, the running game will finally be at full strength: Nix hasn’t played an offensive snap the entire season, and Samuels — one of the best receiving and wildcat backs in the league — hasn’t been active since Week 5.

steelers-vs-chargers-odds-picks-betting-predictions-sunday night football-2019
Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: James Conner

No. 1 back James Conner (quad) is no longer on the injury report, so he should play in full as well. Conner has struggled this year with just 3.2 yards per carry, but he’s been a strong receiver with 8.6 yards per target, and this feels like an ideal game to return to his usual productivity.

As they did in Week 4 against the similarly hapless Bengals, the Conner-Samuels tag team could combine for a 200-yard, two-touchdown day. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Steelers -15
  • Projected Total: 41.5

I stand firm in my approach of simply passing on any Dolphins spread until further notice.

The post-Ben Roethlisberger Steelers have altered their offense to be much more conservative with a run-heavy approach. This will suit them well in a matchup in which they’re huge favorites.

I’d lean toward the under as the market has bumped this total up to 43.5 and counting. It’s likely not in the Steelers’ game plan to force the issue here. They’re the sixth-slowest paced team (per Football Outsiders) while the Dolphins are the slowest paced team when losing by seven or more points (they have a fairly large sample size in this game state), so I think everything points to a scoring environment that favors the under. Sean Koerner

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Expert Pick

Mike Randle: Dolphins +14

Fitzpatrick can put up points regardless of the defense that he faces. Last week at Buffalo, “Fitzmagic” posted 282 yards and two total touchdowns for the overall QB8 finish. This was accomplished on the road against the fifth-best pass defense by DVOA.

The Dolphins have athletic playmaking wide receivers in DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, with veteran wide receiver Allen Hurns serving as a viable WR3. Tight end Mike Gesicki has finally seen increased volume with 11 targets and 92 receiving yards over his past two games. Pittsburgh has been the fourth-most generous defense to opposing tight ends this season.

Pittsburgh has run a conservative offense with Rudolph, who has crested 200 passing yards in just one of his four starts. Top wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has been non-existent, totaling a minuscule 15 or fewer receiving yards in two of Pittsburgh’s past three games. The Steelers also play at the sixth-slowest pace, providing more support for taking Miami with 14 points.

With Fitzpatrick’s perseverance and the Steelers’ limited offense, the spread is too much to overlook. I will take Miami +14 to keep it close. [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

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