Raiders vs. Dolphins Odds, Picks, NFL Sunday Predictions: How To Bet This Overvalued vs. Undervalued Week 3 Matchup
Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Derek Carr
|Moneyline||+160 / -190|
|Time||4:05 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
The 2-0 Raiders will look to stay undefeated when they host the Dolphins on Sunday. Miami comes into the game at 1-1, but it could easily be 0-2 if not for a New England fumble in Miami’s red zone with just three minutes remaining in Week 1.
Last week, Miami got boat raced by Buffalo at home (35-0) and lost starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the process after he suffered fractured ribs midway through the first quarter.
The narrative you’ll hear about this game is to back the team off the shutout loss. While that might be true in most cases, you might want to reconsider that angle on this occasion — especially when it concerns the Miami Dolphins.
Dolphins’ Stats Paint Ghastly Picture
At some point, we have to answer the question of whether the Dolphins are even any good? Sure, their shutout loss dropped them to the bottom of the league in terms of points per game (8.5) and points per play (.139), but let’s look at two other damning statistics:
- They’re last in the league with 3.9 yards per play.
- They’re 31st in defending on third down as opponents are converting those opportunities 62.1% of the time.
Jacoby Brissett replaced the injured Tagovailoa with about 53 minutes remaining in Week 2, so there was plenty of football left to be played. Brissett did little to impress as he completed 24-of-40 passes for 169 yards and threw an interception. The N.C. State product certainly deserves some culpability in the lopsided loss after Miami went 0-3 inside the red zone with two turnovers.
It’s still shocking to think that Miami went scoreless in the game with Buffalo playing prevent defense after taking a 28-0 lead with 13:38 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Furthermore, the Dolphins trailed 14-0 as early as the first quarter and still didn’t have an explosive pass play the entire game.
Miami’s defense is not without fault, either. I know the offense turned the ball over three times, but it’s not as if Buffalo was repeatedly given a short field to work with. Two of the Dolphins’ turnovers occurred inside the red zone, and the third was a muffed punt near the end of the first half. The Bills recovered the ball on Miami’s 42-yard line but missed the field goal and failed to turn the field position into points.
Miami Has Been Overvalued Since 2020
It won’t surprise me if this Dolphins team is a bit overrated.
Last year, there were plenty of discussions about them overachieving and that they played a demanding strength schedule given their opponents’ .529 win percentage in 2019. However, that’s grossly inflated their value because I’d argue that a combination of projected win totals and power ratings is more efficient in determining the quality of their opponents. Per my colleague Sean Koerner’s metrics, we can see that Miami’s strength of schedule was more so in the bottom-third in the league.
Thus, I’m not as impressed with Miami last season as others.
I also don’t think the Deshaun Watson rumors are irrelevant. It’s never a good sign when the coach has to reaffirm to the team that they’re not in the market for another quarterback.
I have my doubts on whether Miami’s franchise quarterback is currently on their roster. The realization of that is something that could unsettle the organization and its players throughout the season.
Raiders Deserve More Credit For 2-0 Start
For a team that came into the season with one of the more demanding strengths of schedules, I’m not sure the Raiders are getting enough credit for their 2-0 start.
Not only did Las Vegas beat a tough Baltimore team 33-27 after trailing 14-0, the Raiders then went across the country during the short week in a body clock game and defeated the Steelers, 26-17. For perspective on just how impressive the Raiders’ comeback was in Week 1, note that it was the first time in 99 games the Ravens lost a game in which they held at least a two-touchdown lead.
Up until Monday night’s overtime loss to the Raiders, the Ravens had won 98 straight games dating back to 2004 when they had a 14+ point-lead.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 14, 2021
Now, ask yourself how you think Miami would fare against Pittsburgh’s defense? Could the Dolphins score enough points against that outfit to keep pace in the game?
The Dolphins will likely need to put a decent amount of points on the board this week to have a chance to beat the Raiders. After all, Las Vegas is seventh with 29.5 points per game, third with 4.5 red-zone attempts per game and first with 458 yards per game.
Furthermore, quarterback Derek Carr is off to a tremendous start as he leads the league with 408.5 passing yards per game. Given those numbers, it should be no surprise that Las Vegas is tied for first with 12 explosive pass plays, whereas Miami has only three on the season.
Raiders Defense Is Much Improved
Defensively, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Raiders fly under the radar for much of the season. Although their overall numbers appear to be in the middle of the pack, their most significant asset could be the ability to get off the field on third down — they’re tied for sixth in the league in allowing just four third-down conversions per game. Their points allowed have also dropped eight points from 29.9 per game down to 22.
The hiring of Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator could prove to be Las Vegas’ best offseason signing. During his introductory press conference, Bradley asked what style of defense Raiders fans could expect to see. He responded by saying: “Fast, physical, and we’ve got to find a way to get the ball. … It starts up front. Get things right up front and then build in everywhere else.”
That’s certainly been the case to start the season as the Raiders are the only team with two players in the top 10 of PFF’s edge defender ranking. Moreover, defensive end Maxx Crosby’s 91.9 PFF grade is the highest of any edge rusher this season. His teammate, Yannick Ngakoue, is seventh with a PFF grade of 88.9.
In my opening, I touched on the popular narrative for this game, which is to back a team coming off a shutout loss. That certainly makes sense when you look at the league as a whole given that teams are 57-44 against the spread (ATS) for 9.56 units in this spot, according to our Action Labs data:
However, if we just focus on the Dolphins, they’re actually 3-5-1 for a loss of 2.16 units. And after digging even deeper, I found that when they’re facing a winning team above .500, they’re 0-3 ATS in this spot.
I’ve already downgraded Miami twice this season in my power ratings. While my research and model both support a play on Las Vegas, I’m much more comfortable buying this number down a half-point from -3.5 to -3.
Pick: Buy the half-point for Raiders -3