Dolphins vs. Raiders Odds & Picks: Trust Miami To Cover As Saturday Night Road Favorite
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa
Dolphins vs. Raiders Odds
Saturday’s NFL triple-header concludes with one of the most consequential games of Week 16.
The Dolphins are 9-5 and holding onto the AFC’s final wild card spot for dear life with the tiebreaker over the Ravens — win out, and Miami is in the playoffs.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are down but not out (yet). They’re two games back at 7-7 and are playing for their postseason chances. They would need to win out and hope that the Ravens lose their final games and the Dolphins lose their season finale in order to get in. What was once such a promising season for Las Vegas is now on life support.
Can the Raiders keep their quickly-fading playoff hopes alive?
The Dolphins have a ton of momentum.
After starting the season 1-3, they’ve won eight of their last 10 to quickly rise into playoff contention. They flipped their season with wins over the Rams and Cardinals coming out of the bye week, but those are the Dolphins’ only two wins against teams .500 or better. Then again, their three losses to such teams have all been by one score.
The Dolphins have been competitive all season, and they’re doing it mostly with an increasingly great and creative defense. Head coach Brian Flores has pulled all the right levers for this defense and now has the Dolphins rated as the sixth-best unit in Football Outsiders’ weighted DVOA, which weights recent action, meaning that they’re playing their best defense of the season. They’re especially strong against the pass and have done a great job coming into each game with a unique defensive game plan.
Miami’s offense tends to do just enough. Rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t posted big numbers, but he’s not making many mistakes and is getting the job done. The Dolphins are also running the ball better of late and welcome back Myles Gaskin, which should help against a very porous run defense.
The Dolphins have a good passing attack and an improving run game — they’re certainly trending in the right direction as they make their playoff push.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders, on the other hand, are very much trending in the wrong direction. Despite their palatable 7-7 record, the Raiders have dropped to just 22nd in overall weighted DVOA, placing them near the bottom 10 teams.
The offense has carried the Raiders much of the season thanks mostly to a strong passing attack, but they’re below-average overall and could drop further if Derek Carr is unavailable. Carr has no injury status for the game and is thus expected to start, which would certainly help.
The Raiders typically need a whole lot of points, because their defense is truly terrible: They rank bottom-five in overall DVOA and second-to-last against the run. They’ve allowed 180 points over their last five games and are a Hail Mary against the hapless Jets away from going 0-5 over that span — that miracle play is all that’s keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.
Simply put, this is a mismatch at this point of the season.
The Raiders have faded in a huge way after a great start to the season, much like they did a year ago under Jon Gruden. If Carr does start as expected, his passing could give the Raiders a chance, but remember that passing defense has been the Dolphins’ strong suit — that tilts the matchup heavily in the Dolphins’ favor.
On one side, you’ve got a great Miami defense that shouldn’t let Vegas score much, and on the other side we’ve got Vegas allowing points at will. If that doesn’t sound like a game with a three-point line to you, then we’re on the same page.
It’s a bummer that this line has hit the key number of three. Still, shop around to see if you can find the Dolphins at -2.5 — you can use our NFL odds page to check if real-time lines have shifted since writing — but don’t be afraid to play them at -3: You don’t want that to slip to -3.5 before kickoff, either, or you’ll lose some real value. Playing the waiting game goes both ways.
If Carr ends up sitting for Marcus Mariota, that line will surely rise again, but that also tilts the game further in Miami’s direction, without Carr’s passing available. I would play Miami up to -5.5 in that scenario.
As it is, I’ll shop for Miami at -2.5 or better (and look to live bet the Dolphins at that number early on). But if that line doesn’t materialize before kickoff, I’ll be content to play the Dolphins at -3 in a matchup that looks a lot more one-sided than records would lead you to believe.
There’s a reason one of these teams looks headed for the playoffs while the other is hanging on by a thread.
Pick: Dolphins -3