NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Dolphins vs. Saints: An Expert Guide To Betting Ian Book’s First Start On MNF

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Dolphins vs. Saints: An Expert Guide To Betting Ian Book’s First Start On MNF article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa and Saints QB Ian Book (left to right)

  • Saints rookie QB Ian Book will make his first career start against the Dolphins on Monday Night Football for this Week 16 matchup.
  • NFL odds for Dolphins vs. Saints have crept toward Miami as kickoff grows closer, with the road team now a 3-point favorite across the market.
  • So where's the betting value on this primetime showdown? Our expert breaks it down in his preview below.

NFL Odds: Dolphins vs. Saints

Dolphins Odds-3 (-115)
Saints Odds+3 (-105)
Over/Under37.5 (-110/-110)
Time8:15 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

After starting out the season 1-7, Miami has won six straight to get back to .500 at 7-7 and now somehow finds itself in the mix for the final wild-card spot in the wide-open AFC.

Both the Dolphins and the Saints have taken circuitous routes to 7-7, but now are in prime position to make an unlikely run to the postseason. Either can make the playoffs if they win out, but of course, only one of them can. Not many would've predicted this game would have playoff implications just a few short weeks ago, but expect the unexpected in the NFL.

Let's take a closer look at both teams and where the value may lie from a betting perspective.

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Dolphins vs. Saints Injury Report

Dolphins Injuries

Find the Dolphins' complete injury report here.

Saints Injuries

Find the Saints' complete injury report here.

Dolphins vs. Saints Matchup

Dolphins OffenseDVOA RankSaints Defense
Dolphins DefenseDVOA RankSaints Offense
Football Outsiders' DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team's success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

Dolphins Surging Behind Tagovailoa, Defense

You have to give head coach Brian Flores a ton of credit for rallying the Dolphins from left-for-dead to in playoff contention. Miami has mainly got here on the back of its defense, in addition to improved play by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

The offense utilizes a high frequency of short passes, so it isn't very explosive (31st in NFL). Part of that has to do with one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Tagovailoa's average time to throw of 2.49 seconds is the third-fastest in the NFL. When he's waited more than 2.5 seconds to throw, his numbers dip dramatically.

And while Tagovailoa has been great during this upswing, he's still only averaged 6.5 air yards (34th of 38 QBs) against bad defenses. That might not work against a Saints defense that can play tight coverage and generate pressure. Tagovailoa has just three touchdowns and six interceptions along with just five big time throws to 11 turnover-worthy ones.

For the season, his 58.6 QB rating under pressure ranks 25th out of 31 qualified quarterbacks. In contrast, with a clean pocket, he has 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions with the fourth-highest QB Rating of 108.5.

Meanwhile, the defense is very aggressive with a wide variety of blitzes and heavy use of man coverage on the outside with a very talented secondary. The primary weaknesses on this side of the ball are the run defense and allowing big plays.

Miami's defense ranks 24th in Explosiveness against both the run and pass. However, that's not something they'll have to worry much about against the Saints offense, especially with Ian Book at the helm. However, the holes on run defense are something Miami will have to watch against a Saints team that will likely lean on its ground attack and a plethora of short passes, which Miami has also struggled with at times.

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Saints Starting New Chapter With Book

Similar to the Dolphins, the Saints find themselves in the playoff discussion after many left them for dead prior to last week's upset victory over the Bucs. New Orleans relies on its dominant defense, which allows almost nothing against the run. It has been a bit more inconsistent against the pass, but the edge rush should feast against a poor Miami offensive line, which in turn will help out a very talented secondary.

Similar to the Dolphins, the Saints employ a very aggressive defensive scheme with a relatively high use of man coverage on the outside. Consequently, they do allow a high rate of explosive plays (24th), but that's not a major concern against Miami's offense.

However, the Saints defense might not be at full strength on Monday night as a result of injuries and COVID-19 protocols that have decimated both sides of the ball. Here are the key players that will or may miss this week's game:

  • QB Trevor Siemian (COVID)
  • QB Taysom Hill (COVID)
  • RT Ryan Ramczyk (COVID)
  • LB Demario Davis (COVID)
  • Safety Malcolm Jenkins (COVID)
  • DE Marcus Davenport (shoulder)
  • WR Tre'Quan Smith (shoulder)

Those are some critical names, while the Dolphins are fairly healthy overall.

Most importantly, it means the offense will be led by rookie Ian Book. The Notre Dame product will take his first career NFL snap on Monday Night Football in the heart of the playoff race and might not have both starting tackles. Not ideal.

NFL Pick: Dolphins vs. Saints

Miami has been fantastic on both sides of the ball during its six-game winning streak. It ranks in the the top three in both EPA per play and success rate on defense since Week 9. Additionally, Tagovailoa ranks third in EPA+CPOE composite over that span among 38 QBs with at least 100 snaps.

However, keep in mind Miami has made this run against a laughable schedule with five of the six wins coming at home. During the six-game winning streak, the only road win came against the lowly Jets in a game that was dead even statistically. Meanwhile, the five home wins came against the Texans, Jets, Giants, Ravens and Panthers.

Here are the quarterbacks they've faced during their six-game winning streak:

  • Joe Flacco (first start of season)
  • Tyrod Taylor (first start back from injury)
  • Mike Glennon
  • Zach Wilson
  • Lamar Jackson
  • Cam Newton

Not exactly a fright-inducing lineup.

Plus, the defense still only ranks 29th in EPA per rush over that stretch. That's likely the area the Saints will look to exploit with a rookie quarterback making his first career start. Expect a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara.

From a betting perspective, I was actually looking to sell Miami here, but I'm no longer in a rush to do so with the recent news surrounding New Orleans. I just don't see anything worth getting involved in pregame with all of the uncertainty surrounding this game. Remember you don't have to bet every primetime game of the NFL season.

I do know both defenses have major advantages here and match up very well from a scheme perspective, but all value has been sucked out of the under after the total got bet down to 37, which is right around where I make it.

New Orleans may have some success running the ball, but I assume Miami will load the box and bring plenty of cover-0 blitzes on passing downs against the rookie quarterback. It's hard to predict what we will get from Ian Book in his first career start, but you can't expect much against a very complex defense.

I feel the only angle worth exploring here is the Dolphins in the live betting market if they're trailing at the end of the first quarter. I wouldn't be surprised if Sean Payton has a superb early script to get the Saints on the board early. It may then be a struggle from that point on for Book as Brian Flores and Co. adjust during the non-scripted portion of the game. For what it's worth, Miami has started very slow during this winning streak even against horrid competition. The Dolphins have been outscored 27-21 in the first quarter during their six-game winning streak.

You can follow me in the Action App to see any bets I make during the game.

Pick: Live bet Dolphins +3 or better in the first half

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