Steelers vs Dolphins Odds: An Expert Guide To Betting Sunday Night Football
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images. Pictured: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers vs. Dolphins Odds
Tua Tagovailoa will make his first start since a scary concussion caused him to leave the field on a stretcher in Week 4. Will that be enough for the Dolphins to cover the big number?
Steelers vs. Dolphins Matchup Analysis
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Steelers vs. Dolphins DVOA Breakdown
Tagovailoa represents a step up from backups Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson, but there is a lot of risk involved with buying the Dolphins as sizable favorites based solely on his return.
For one, there are questions as to whether Tagovailoa can make it through the entire game. The Dolphins have now seen their starting quarterback get knocked out of each of their past four games. Given the NFL's new Tagovailoa-inspired protocols and the fact that this game is in primetime in front of a national audience, so much as a stumble from Tagovailoa could get him removed.
Tagovailoa will face a Steelers defense that is finally starting to find its stride without T.J. Watt. In last week's 20-18 upset of the Buccaneers, the Steelers rushed four against Tom Brady on every snap as Cam Hayward and Larry Ogunjobi proved to be game-wreckers on the interior, combining for seven total pressures, three hits, three hurries and a sack on Brady. Their performances helped a secondary that was without its top three cornerbacks and ballhawking safety Minkah Fitzpatrick hold Brady to 243 yards on 40 attempts (6.1 YPA) and one touchdown in four red-zone trips.
The Dolphins interior line is not immune to giving up a similar performance, as left guard Liam Eichenberg's PFF pass-blocking grade of 34.9 ranks 65th of 74 qualified guards and center Connor Williams' 60.6 mark is 24th of 37 qualified centers. With Fitzpatrick, Levi Wallace and Cameron Sutton expected to return, the Steelers likely won't be able to fully stop Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but they could play bend-but-don't-break defense.
This is also a spot where the hiring of ousted Dolphins coach Brian Flores as a defensive assistant could come in handy. Flores not being sold on Tagovailoa was likely one of the factors that contributed to him being fired despite a 19-14 record over his final two seasons, so it's fair to assume Flores has as good of a handle as anyone on Tagovailoa's weaknesses and how to exploit them.
Offensively, the Steelers will benefit from getting Kenny Pickett back from a concussion of his own after he was knocked out of last week's game. The Dolphins blitz at the eighth-highest rate, which Pickett (114.6 passer rating when blitzed, per PFF) handles far better than Mitch Trubisky (84.9). Pickett and this passing offense have some underrated upside against a Dolphins defense that has sunken to 31st in DVOA against the pass.
Steelers vs. Dolphins Picks
The Steelers have started 1-4 a few times under Mike Tomlin, but he's never had a losing record because his teams start to hit their stride and surprise people around this time of the season.
According to our Action Labs data, Tomlin-coached teams are 47-25-3 (65%) ATS as an underdog, but that mark improves to 38-17-2 (69%) after September.
What's more, Tomlin's teams have won outright 56.1% of the time in those spots.
And as an underdog facing an opponent with a better straight-up record, Tomlin-coached teams are 24-8-1 (75%) ATS, beating the spread by an average of 4.6 points per game.