Dolphins vs Packers Odds, Pick, Prediction: Bet Underdog on Christmas
- The Dolphins are 3.5-point favorites over the Packers on Christmas.
- Green Bay needs to keep winning to keeps its playoff hopes alive, as does Miami.
- Chris Raybon previews the game and lays out his betting pick.
Dolphins vs Packers Odds
The NFL Christmas Day slate kicks off with a matchup between two of the most profitable quarterbacks against the spread. Aaron Rodgers is 125-91-4 (58%) ATS all-time, while Tua Tagovailoa sports a 19-13-1 (59%) career ATS mark.
So, which side of a Packers vs Dolphins pick should you be on to begin the holiday betting festivities? Read on for more analysis below before making a pick.
Packers vs Dolphins Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Packers and Dolphins match up statistically:
Packers vs. Dolphins DVOA Breakdown
The Packers offense is rounding into shape just in time for the stretch run, averaging 26.6 points per game over their last five after posting just 17.1 a game over their first nine.
Rodgers should be able to pick apart a Dolphins defense that allows the third-highest completion rate (68.3%) and sixth-most passing yards per game (246.3) while intercepting passes at the fourth-lowest rate (1.3%).
Bet Green Bay vs. Miami at FanDuel
Schematically, the Dolphins play man coverage at the third-highest rate and blitz at the seventh-highest rate, and defensive coordinator Josh Boyer has stayed true to that philosophy despite a banged-up secondary and a down year from top cornerback Xavien Howard, whose 54.1 PFF coverage grade ranks 95th of 121 qualified cornerbacks.
Even at this stage of Rodgers’ career, this type of strategy tends to be futile, as he grades out third best against the blitz and averages over a yard more per attempt versus man than he does against zone.
Christian Watson gives Rodgers a legitimate man-beater on the outside. The rookie second-round pick is averaging 4.29 yards per route run versus man coverage this season, which is in second in the league among 96 qualified wide receivers, according to PFF.
The presence of Watson opens up the entire offense and takes the pressure off Allen Lazard, who is quietly in the top 25 in yards per route versus man coverage (2.30) as well.
The Packers are second in offensive DVOA since Week 10, and it’s no surprise their uptick coincides with Watson’s breakout three-touchdown game against the Cowboys — the beginning of a five-game span that has seen him score an unbelievable eight touchdowns while averaging 71.8 receiving yards per game.
The Dolphins’ best attribute on defense is their ability to stop the run, but the Packers boast a top-three rushing attack. Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon and company bulled their way to a combined 138 yards and two touchdowns on the ground last week against a Rams defense that ranks top five against the run, so I expect the Packers to be able to run despite facing an above-average rush defense.
Miami ranks 27th in third-down conversion rate allowed (43.7%) and 26th in red-zone conversion rate allowed (62.0%), so the Packers figure to move the ball and score points.
Of course, we should expect the Dolphins to do the same when they have the ball, as they’re averaging 27.0 points in the 11 games Tagovailoa has started and finished. But while the Packers offense is hitting its stride, the Dolphins offense has hit a bump in the road.
Tagovailoa leads the league in DVOA on passes to the middle, and he also leads the league in rate of passes attempted to the middle of the field (47%), but defenses are beginning to put defenders in the right spots to take away those throws and disrupt the timing of the entire pass offense.
This has led to a massive drop-off in Tagovailoa’s efficiency over the last four games compared to the first eight:
- First eight games: 71.0% completion rate, 9.13 yards per attempt, 7.3% touchdown rate, 1.2% interception rate
- Last four games: 52.8% completion rate, 7.66 yards per attempt, 4.7% touchdown rate, 1.6% interception rate
Save for the completion rate, those are still decent numbers, but they’re far from the elite form he showed early in the season. The result has been a less consistent offense that has converted on just 25.5% of its third downs over the past four games.
Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry rightfully gets criticized at times for his zone-heavy scheme, but the coverage does tend to limit opponents over the middle. The Packers are 12th in DVOA on middle passes, including third on middle passes beyond 15 yards.
And despite a rough start to the season that saw Justin Jefferson dust them for 184 yards in Week 1, the Packers’ secondary is allowing just 135.2 yards per game to wide receivers (135.2), which bodes well when facing Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
I would be careful not to put too much stock in the Dolphins’ three-game losing streak — the 49ers, Chargers and Bills are formidable opponents — but I also think it’s clear to anyone who has seen those games that there’s more to the offense’s recent struggles than merely strength of schedule.
The Packers boast a top-eight pass defense in their own right and should be able to replicate much of what worked schematically for those teams against the Dolphins offense.
Green Bay’s weakness on defense comes against the run, but while Mike McDaniel oversaw a run-heavy offense as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator, as Dolphins head coach, his offense is sitting at 22.4 rushes per game (second-fewest in the league).
Interestingly enough, the Dolphins have lost outright in two of their top three rushing performances this season.
It’s also worth noting there’s rain in the forecast, but I don’t think it gives either team an edge, as the Packers have the best run offense and worst run defense in this game, while the Dolphins have the best pass offense and worst pass defense.
Once upon a time, there was a narrative that playing in the state of Florida was Rodgers’ kryptonite after he had a few bad games there in the late aughts, but he has gone 4-2 ATS in The Sunshine State since 2014.
The Packers’ strengths align well with the Dolphins’ weaknesses, but the same can’t necessarily be said in reverse.
The Dolphins hit the ground running this year while the Packers stumbled out of the gate, but in their current forms, they are evenly matched despite what a matchup of 8-6 versus 6-8 may otherwise indicate.
In fact, underdogs have historically crushed in Week 16 when facing opponents like the Dolphins. According to our Action Labs data, underdogs on the road in Week 16 have gone 46-24-3 (66%) ATS since 2005 when facing an opponent with 6-8 wins.
This is also the type of spot you want to back Rodgers. Since Matt LaFleur became Green Bay’s head coach, Rodgers is 11-4 ATS as a dog, covering by an average of 2.8 points per game and winning 10 of those 15 games outright.
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