Miami Dolphins (10-6; 9-7 ATS; 12-4 O/U) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5; 9-6-1 ATS; 6-10 O/U
NFL Wild Card Playoff: Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 1:05pm EST
Line: Pittsburgh Steelers -10
The red-hot Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wildcard game Sunday afternoon from Heinz Field. The Dolphins won three out of their last four games to secure a playoff berth, and the Steelers won their final seven games to win the AFC North. The Dolphins defeated the Steelers 30-15 at home in week six. Ben Roethlisberger only threw for 189 yards with one TD and two interceptions, and Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards for the Dolphins.
Ajayi Looks to Burn Steelers Again
The Miami Dolphins are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and will have to defeat the Steelers without Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. The Dolphins lost 35-14 to the Patriots last week in a game that did not have an effect on the Dolphins seeding. Despite the loss Matt Moore played reasonably well, connecting on 24 of 34 passes for 205 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The 32-year old quarterback has looked good in Tannehill’s place, throwing for 721 yards with an 8:3 TD to INT ratio in just over three games of action. Jay Ajayi will have to be a big offensive catalyst for the Dolphins if they want to beat the Steelers. Ajayi had an outstanding season, collecting 1272 rushing yards with eight touchdowns, and averaged a solid five yards per carry. The 23-year old running back looked dominant at times and rushed for over 200 yards on four occasions this season. Ajayi burned the Steelers for 204 yards in the week six win. Miami is scoring an average of 22.7 points per game, ranking them 17th in the NFL.
The Dolphins defense will be tested in a big way against the Steelers as they will have to try and stop Roethlisberger, Brown, and Bell which is no easy feat. However, they have to be confident going into this game after holding Roethlisberger to only 189 passing yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in their win against the Steelers this season. The Dolphins conceded three passing touchdowns to Brady last week and also conceded 120 rushing yards. Miami is allowing an average of 23.8 points per game, placing them 18th in the NFL.
Steelers Look to Avenge Week Six Loss to Dolphins
The Pittsburgh Steelers head into the Wild Card round for the third straight season against a Miami team that beat them earlier this season. Mike Tomlin decided to rest several starters last week against the Browns which is something many other coaches opted not to do. Ben Roethlisberger had another strong season, accumulating 3819 passing yards with a 29:13 TD to INT ratio but did have a few rough nights and tossed six interceptions over his last four games of the season. Le’Veon Bell would have had a career year had he not missed the first four games to suspension, rushing for 1268 yards with seven touchdowns, and averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Bell only had ten carries in the loss to the Dolphins this season, but he did manage to rush for 50 yards. Look for Bell to see several carries in this one as he has the potential to have a monster performance in this one against Miami’s weak rush defense. Antonio Brown did not put up the numbers he has over the past few seasons, but he still had a terrific year, accumulating 1284 receiving yards with 12 touchdowns. The Steelers scored an average of 24.9 points per game, good for 11th in the NFL.
The Pittsburgh defense had a good season overall, and they will have the 30 points they allowed to Miami earlier this season in mind in this contest. Jay Ajayi torched the Steelers for defense for 204 yards and they will have to find a way to slow him down. Overall the Steelers defense has played well this season, conceding an average of 20.4 points per game, placing them 10th in the NFL.
The Miami Dolphins are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game.
- 0-4 ATS in their last 4 playoff games.
- 6-21 ATS in their last 27 games after conceding more than 250 passing yards in their previous game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are:
- 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home playoff games.
- 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 home playoff games overall.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
I am taking the Steelers in this one. I know the spread seems high but the Steelers have the edge on both sides of the ball, and stats wise they have the better defense and offense, plus they are red hot, riding a seven-game winning streak. Miami’s defense does not impress me as the Dolphins own the 30th ranked rush defense that is allowing 140 rushing yards per game, and that is not good news going against the dominant Le’Veon Bell who averaged 139 rushing yards over his last six games of the season. Miami will have a tough time in the air with Matt Moore and the Steelers mainly have to worry about Jay Ajayi, and they will be prepared and I highly doubt Ajayi burns them again. The Steelers have playoff experience and I think the trio of Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell will be too much for the Dolphins to handle.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers -10
The Steelers offense should have no problem moving the ball in the air and on the ground against Miami’s weak, 30th ranked rush defense and I think they will score big points at home, plus the over is 5-1-1 in their last seven Wildcard playoff games. The Steelers defense will give up some points, I expect Jay Ajayi to have some success on the ground and lead his team to a few scores, and the over is 6-0 in Miami’s last six games overall.