Dolphins vs. Panthers Odds, Picks, Predictions For NFL Week 12: Back This Home Underdog To Cover On Sunday
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Dolphins CB Xavien Howard celebrates a pick with teammates
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
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Cam Newton’s return to Carolina seemed to galvanize the team to a 34-10 road victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10. The following week, Newton and the Panthers hosted the Washington Football Team and his former coach, Ron Rivera.
Newton and Rivera spent nine seasons together in Carolina en route to four NFC South titles, including a 15-1 season and a Super Bowl appearance in 2015. However, when Rivera had the chance to sign his former signal caller, he passed on both occasions.
Rivera opted not to bring Newton to Washington when he took the job in 2019. He then snubbed Newton again when he was available as a free agent at the end of the 2020 season.
Last week, Newton got his chance to exact a small amount of revenge against Rivera when Carolina hosted Washington. You could make the argument that the Panthers put everything into that game to beat their former coach, and they still came up short in a 27-21 loss.
Thus, after expending plenty of effort in Week 11, the Panthers could be in a letdown spot when they head to Miami to take on the Dolphins on Sunday.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Panthers vs. Dolphins Injury Report
- G Dennis Daley (glute): Doubtful
- CB Trill Williams (hamstring): Out
- DB Elijah Campbell (toe/knee): Out
- TE Adam Shaheen (knee): Out
- Safety Brandon Jones (ankle/elbow): Questionable
Panthers vs. Dolphins Matchup
|Panthers Offense||DVOA Rank||Dolphins Defense|
|Panthers Defense||DVOA Rank||Dolphins Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Panthers Not Making Most of McCaffrey
I must admit that it’s a bit surprising to see the Panthers ranked 29th overall in offensive DVOA. That shows how far the team has fallen after a 3-0 start to the season. The passing game has been a problem for the Panthers as they’ve struggled to stretch the field against their opponents.
Per Pro-Football, 52 quarterbacks have attempted at least 20 passes this season, and the Panthers have two who are ranked 46th and 51st in intended air yards per throw. Those two quarterbacks include the current backup, P.J. Walker (46th), with 6.6 intended air yards per attempt, and Cam Newton (51st), with 5.0 intended air yards per pass.
Now, you might say that Newton has only started one game this season. However, this is a trajectory that he’s been on considering that last season, among quarterbacks who made at least two starts, Newton finished 37th with 6.8 intended air yards per attempt.
The lack of a vertical threat makes things even more challenging for the Panthers running game, which hasn’t been as efficient even with the return of their all-purpose running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has been average at best — among running backs with at least 88 carries, he ranks 16th in DVOA.
Carolina’s struggles on first down prevent the Panthers from maximizing the potential that McCaffrey offers. Per Sharp Football Stats, Carolina is ranked 23rd in success rate on first down. That’s difficult to overcome, particularly when you’re often behind the chains and only 25th in explosive play rate. This adds to the Panthers’ scoring woes as they’re 22nd in red zone touchdown conversion (56.25%). That could be quite a challenge against a Dolphins team that’s sixth in allowing opponent touchdowns (51.16%) inside their 20-yard line.
Dolphins Defensive Strength Getting Overlooked
The Miami Dolphins haven’t been entirely fair to their quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Head coach Brian Flores had to publicly pledge his support for the Alabama product amid rumors of interest in the Texans’ wantaway quarterback Deshaun Watson.
While the jury is still out on Tagovailoa’s prospects as a starting quarterback in the league, there are elements in his game that show some promise. For one, Tagovailoa has demonstrated that he can be a very accurate passer as his completion percentage is up from 64.1% last year to 68% this season.
It hasn’t always been pretty, but Tagovailoa has done his part in Miami’s recent three-game winning streak. He didn’t start in Week 10 against the Ravens, but came off the bench and guided the Dolphins to a surprise 22-10 victory as 8.5-point underdogs. It won’t surprise me if that victory over the Ravens inspires the players for the remainder of the season.
Defensively, I see the Dolphins as somewhat overlooked in this game — particularly at home. Playing in the warm weather down in Florida has to be a factor when playing against Miami. Note that the Dolphins allowed no more than 10 points in each of their last two home games. I don’t mind taking a shot with this team against a Panthers team that is 29th overall in offensive DVOA.
The Panthers will likely look to continue to run the ball as they’ve done all season. Per TeamRankings, they’re 12th with a run play rate of 43.63%. Over their last three games, that number has climbed up to 46.02%. While that makes sense with Newton back on the team, I think it benefits the Dolphins, who are much more robust against the run than when they have to defend against the pass.
One interesting tidbit on the Dolphins is that in six of their seven losses this season, opposing teams scored at least 26 points. Carolina has scored that many points only once in its last four games. With both teams 4-7 to the under this season, this is a spot that I feel a low-scoring game would benefit the Dolphins as all four of their victories this campaign have gone under the total.
Dolphins vs. Panthers Picks, Predictions
It’s almost been a tale of two seasons for the Dolphins, considering the only blemishes on their record occurred during a seven-game losing streak. Now the Dolphins have put together a three-game winning streak of their own, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they won this game outright against the Panthers.
When I look at the composition of this matchup, I believe it suits the Dolphins based on how I project things to play out. A possible letdown spot for the Panthers also can’t be ignored, as I think they could be a bit laggard after failing to defeat their former coach Ron Rivera in Week 11.
One angle that certainly supports a play on the Dolphins is that they’re on a current 4-0 against the spread and straight up run when they’re no more than two-point underdogs at home. Bet365 recently moved Miami to +2.5 while most of the sportsbooks are sitting at +2. With the underdog available at -115 odds, I wouldn’t mind paying the additional five cents in juice to side with the home team.
Pick: Dolphins +2.5 (-115) | Bet to: Dolphins +2
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