Ravens vs Dolphins Prediction & Pick: NFL Week 17

Ravens vs Dolphins Prediction & Pick: NFL Week 17 article feature image

Action Network/Getty Images. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa (left) and Lamar Jackson.

Ravens vs Dolphins Prediction & Pick: NFL Week 17

Sunday, Dec. 31
1:00 p.m. ET
Under 46.5 | Play to 46.5

Ravens vs Dolphins odds have the Ravens as 3.5-point favorites on the spread with an over/under of 46.5 total points. My Ravens vs Dolphins prediction & pick for NFL Week 17 is on this over/under.

AFC supremacy and a first-round bye is on the line when the Ravens host the Dolphins on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. MVP candidates — Lamar Jackson and Tyreek Hill — can be found on both offenses, but it will be the defenses that rule the day.

Ravens vs Dolphins Prediction

Pick: Under 47 | Play to 46.5

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Ravens vs Dolphins Odds

Sunday, Dec. 31
1 p.m. ET
Ravens Odds
-110o / -110u
Dolphins Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Ravens vs Dolphins Preview

The majority of the chatter surrounding this game will center around the MVP race and potential playoff scenarios. But what may go under the radar is the fact that we are dealing with two of the top-five defenses in the league.

The Ravens are second in yards per play allowed (4.5) and the Dolphins are just behind them at fifth (4.8). Miami’s defense is especially underrated as only one team has managed to score more than 21 points against them since Week 7. Giving this unit a boost, safety Jevon Holland, Pro Football Focus’ top-rated coverage safety, was reportedly going through an extensive practice on Friday and should return to the lineup for the first time since Week 12.

The household names in the Dolphins defense are in the secondary, but the front seven have really made the difference. Miami is third in pressure rate and leads the league in sack rate on a per dropback basis. Both Bradley Chubb and Andrew Van Ginkel rank inside the top 10 in pass rush grade out of all EDGE defenders, according to PFF.

It's fair to expect the Ravens to attack Miami the same way they attacked the 49ers. Baltimore spread the field on early downs and used the short passing game to negate pressure on Lamar Jackson.

The 33 points may have you thinking it was highly successful, but it resulted in only 5.4 yards per play. Many of the points scored were the result of opportunistic defense.

Ravens vs Dolphins Picks | FanDuel

Ravens -3.5

Dolphins +3.5

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Mike McDaniel has circumvented injury issues along his offensive line by featuring a heavy dose of the rushing attack and getting the ball out of Tua Tagovailoa’s hands quickly.

According to Sharp Football, the ball was out of Tagovailoa’s hands within 2.5 seconds on 73% of his attempts against the Cowboys. For context, the league average for all quarterbacks in Week 16 was 45%. This resulted in the lowest pressure rate created by the Cowboys defense in any game this season. That may sound like a positive that could translate to points scored, but it means long sustained drives with low risk of a game-changing turnover.

With Jaylen Waddle (ankle) ruled out, the Dolphins' running attack will be even more essential. Miami averages 5.8 yards per carry on first down this season, which is the best in the league.

The Ravens have allowed 4.7 yards on first-down rushes this year, ranking them 24th. The clock will be churning whenever Miami has the ball as the rush attempts and short completions add up.

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Ravens vs Dolphins Prediction & Pick

Things will get difficult for the Dolphins once they enter the red zone as Baltimore is third in defensive red-zone efficiency. Miami will have to settle for field goals as I expect this game to be closely contested.

Ravens defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald has been masterful this season and I expect another successful blueprint.

In recent months, in games in which the Dolphins had to face offenses ranked inside the top 10 in DVOA (Chiefs, Bills, Eagles), their defense rose to the challenge. More importantly, oddsmakers have artificially inflated the totals and all of those games went under the total. This is another case of that very circumstance and I'm happily backing two defenses playing their best football.

Pick: Under 46.5 | Play to 46.5

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