Dolphins vs. Broncos Odds & Picks: Sunday Isn’t The Time To Fade Miami
Getty Images. Pictured: Tua Tagovailoa
Dolphins vs. Broncos Odds
Winners of five straight, the Dolphins have planted themselves firmly in the mix for the team’s first playoff berth since 2016. In Week 10, the Fins takes its talents from South Beach to the Mile High City to take on the reeling Broncos.
Drew Lock, who is nursing a rib injury, is expected to start. But if he can’t go, the team will turn to Brett Rypien, whose lone career start came in Week 4 against the Jets.
The news of Lock’s potential absence contributed to the public-favorite Dolphins being pushed up to 3.5-point favorites, but can you trust them in this spot?
The Dolphins can do no wrong during this five-game heater, including changing quarterbacks. The club went from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tua Tagovailoa during its bye week and have not missed a beat. Despite being outgained in two of the Alabama rookie’s three starts, the Fins have gone undefeated with him as the signal caller.
An indicator of these potentially inflated results has been the defense and special teams. Miami has three defensive/special teams touchdowns in as many games and has caused six turnovers. The six takeaways have given Tua great field position to generate scoring chances.
This is a defense that is turning the opponent over way above expectations and I expect there is some regression coming.
While the offense may not be as good as the results under the rookie quarterback, the play-calling all year has been strong.
Miami has been dominant on first downs, posting a passing success rate of 65.9% on first down plays, tops in the NFL. This means that the offense is picking up sufficient yards to deem it a “successful” play according to Sharp Football Stats. With plays leading to second-and-short, or a chunk play that moves the sticks, the Dolphins have been feasting on first down and calling efficient plays.
Miami will be facing a stiff test against Vic Fangio’s defense. The defense does not give up an inordinate amount of big plays, and is strong at defending all running plays. The Broncos defense is allowing a rushing success rate of 46%, above the league average. This is a defense that keeps plays in front of them, and it is surely going to make Tua beat them underneath and not with the deep ball.
The Broncos are on the ropes after getting their doors blown off by the Raiders last week. And while Lock is expected to start, the Broncos may be forced to go back to Rypien, but at least he has his feet wet from the Week 4 victory over the Jets on the road.
Miami will be a more formidable opponent, especially with the turnover streak the Dolphins are riding. And considering the Broncos have the second-worst turnover differential in the NFL, it may be in their best interest to put the ball on the ground and attack a Dolphins defense that is susceptible to the run.
Miami’s defense is bottom five in both running back success rate and explosive rush defense in 2020. Denver should try to reintegrate Phillip Lindsay into the offense — he had only four carries last week — as he can find the second level against this Miami front seven. Lindsay has been nursing a handful of injuries this season, a concussion and foot ailments, but should be good to go in this one with no injury designation heading into the weekend.
Denver is going to try and do what it does most games: Hang around and make its move in the second half. With Miami traveling to Denver, this could give the Broncos a bit of life if the Dolphins are not prepared for the altitude, but also if Fangio has his offense attacking the weak spot of the Miami defense, on the ground, for long drives.
Miami is going to regress heavily once the turnovers even out over time. Tua has looked fine to start, but not as good as Miami’s record is. This win streak is a product of some favorable bounces that come back towards the median.
There will be a spot for me to fade Miami, but this isn’t it. I can’t back Denver on a short number given what we have seen from the offense of late. Even if Rypien is an upgrade over the banged-up Lock, I can’t pull the trigger.
This leads me to the under. I make this total closer to 41, so I see some value in the current line of 45.5. The only way Denver hangs in this game is running the ball, which will eat away at the clock and avoid careless turnovers from Rypien through the air.
On the other end, this Miami offense is going to need to work for its points against a stout Denver defense that limits big plays and gets off the field on third down, 4% better than the league average with a 38% third down defense.
PICK: Under 46 (down to 44)