Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM
There was a lot of optimism about the 2013 Miami Dolphins entering the season. It was the second year for head coach Joe Philbin…and for young quarterback Ryan Tannehill. They had a year to work out the kinks…and were now set for a make-or-break campaign that would determine the immediate future for what was hoped to be a resurgent franchise.
And, with all that…there was an emphasis through the summer about “increasing pace.” Miami was ready to move the ball like Tom Brady and New England…like Peyton Manning and Denver (or Indy when he played there)…and yes, even like Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay when Philbin as their offensive coordinator.
If you think Philadelphia is going to be something special with their new head coach from Oregon…wait until you see what Miami can do under offensive guru Philbin and the maturing Tannehill! Miami was going to WIN, and it was going to be EXCITING!
Midway through the young season:
*Miami may have crashed and burned, dropping FOUR straight games
*Tom Brady and New England are struggling offensively
*Philadelphia has been a disaster
A fast break attack can work great when all the parts are in synch. If those parts aren’t in synch, you just punt or turn the ball over faster. Defenses have apparently made some offseason adjustments. And, this approach isn’t right for everyone…PARTICULARLY if the quarterback was overrated (and drafted way too high) to begin with. Let’s review Miami’s season so far, along with those of the Cincinnati Bengals as we gear up for this week’s Thursday Night telecast on the NFL Network.
Won-Lost Records (schedule strength)
Cincinnati: 6-2 (#21 schedule in USA Today)
Miami: 3-4 (#9 schedule in USA today)
Miami has played a tough schedule. But what’s most disturbing isn’t clear at first glance. The team started the season 3-0 (beating Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Atlanta) before losing four straight (to New Orleans, Baltimore, Buffalo, and New England). Two of their recent losses were as home favorites against Baltimore and Buffalo. They’re 3-4 for the season, but 0-4 for the last month! Cincinnati probably isn’t as good as that 6-2 record would suggest. They’ve caught some breaks here or there against a below average schedule. But, they are in better recent form than the Dolphins.
Yards-Per Play to Date
Cincinnati: 5.7 on offense, 4.8 on defense
Miami: 4.9 on offense, 5.2 on defense
Wow…big difference there. Dock Cincinnati a little for their schedule…and you still have quality on both sides of the ball. Give a little boost to Miami…and you still have an offense that’s sub-par…just when they were supposed to be taking the league by storm. The Dolphins have gained 301 yards or less in five of their seven games. Not exactly fast break football!
Both teams are on the wrong side of zero. That’s going to be an issue for Cincinnati if they’re dreaming big things about the playoffs. The biggest concern for the Dolphins is that they’re trending in the wrong direction. Giveaways by game in order are 1-1-3-4-0-3-3. That’s three or more in four of the last five games. Tannehill’s supposed to have matured past that! That recent turnover run is a disturbing red flag for anyone optimistic about the Philbin/Tannehill era with this team.
Cincinnati: 5-2-1 ATS
Miami: 3-4 ATS
Again…we have that trend in play. Miami covered their first three games but are 0-4 against market prices the past month. Many sharps liked this team entering the season, and then LOVED this team after they upset Indianapolis in Week Two. Miami’s collapse is one of many storylines that have cost Vegas Wise Guys a fortune this year. Cincinnati has been quietly underrated…though they typically are within striking distance of the line if teams aren’t handing them free points (as the Jets did last week in a blowout).
Current Line: Cincinnati by 2.5, total 43
Remember…Cincinnati is the ROAD team here! Many in the markets considered these teams dead even or within a point of each other back in mid-September. Now, Cincinnati is seen as 5.5 points better on a neutral field, and would be about -8.5 if this game were in Ohio. That doesn’t even seem believable. But, Miami’s been playing so badly in recent weeks that the market has had to make a big adjustment.
Has the market overreacted? Is Miami really now THAT bad?! JIM HURLEY has some thoughts on the issue. That’s why we’ve focused so much on the Dolphins side of the coin in today’s discussion. If you KNOW what’s going on in Miami, then this game picks itself. Cincinnati’s generic enough to be an innocent bystander. The Bengals will take candy from the baby if Miami keeps imploding. The Bengals will lose a competitive game if Miami snaps out of it.
You can purchase the final word for Thursday’s surprisingly busy schedule (NFL plus 4 college games!) right here at the website with your credit card. If you’d like to talk to a live person about full season football and basketball options, call our handicapping office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
We have a great week of football ahead! Here’s the schedule for this weekend’s big game previews:
Friday: Early Look at Michigan/Michigan State in Saturday’s top day game
Saturday: #7 Miami at #3 Florida State in a potential BCS Buster
Sunday: Indianapolis/Houston on NBC
Monday: Chicago/Green Bay on ESPN
Oddsmakers are confused…sharps are reeling…but you can always count on JIM HURLEY to make sure you GET THE MONEY!