Miami Dolphins (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS, 0-4 O/U) vs. Atlanta Falcons (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS, 4-0 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Atlanta Falcons -10.5. Total: 47.5.
The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a bye week as they head into a home date with the Miami Dolphins at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Atlanta limped into its break with a loss to Buffalo, thus ending a season-opening three-game winning streak. The Dolphins ended a two-game skid by beating Tennessee this past weekend.
Well, that’s a new one
Dolphins’ offensive line coach Chris Foerster (well, former offensive line coach) is (well, was) one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the NFL. He used one of his dollar bills to apparently snort cocaine while also taking a video of himself doing the deed. Needless to say, Foerster’s final day with the franchise was on Monday, one day after the video got leaked. He tendered his resignation before what would have been an inevitable firing.
“It’s not a good situation,” head coach Adam Gase assured. “It’s not something you expect. But things happen sometimes that you don’t anticipate and you have to deal with it. It’s not fun, especially when you’re close to somebody. But you gotta take the next step and move on because we’re going to play on Sunday.”
Miami’s offense was not any good even with Foerster running the line. The Dolphins have scored a grand total of 41 points through four games and the Jay Cutler experiment has underwhelmed (shocking!) since Ryan Tannehill was lost for the year in the preseason. Miami, which was shut out by New Orleans of all defenses on Oct. 1, at least managed to scape past Tennessee 16-10 last weekend.
Early bye comes at the right time
A bye in Week 5 is not always considered a good thing because it means those teams will play 12 consecutive games with no weeks off for the remainder of the regular season. But it is safe to say the Week 5 bye was a great thing for Atlanta. One of the most banged-up teams in the business, the Falcons welcomed back receiver Julio Jones, offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder, linebacker Vic Beasley, and safety Ricardo Allen to practice earlier this week. Jones left Atlanta’s loss to Buffalo with a hip problem, Beasley has been out since Week 2 with a strained hamstring, and both Schraeder and Allen have been in the league’s concussion protocol. The Falcons were without their two top receivers in the latter stages of their setback against the Bills, as Mohamed Sanu was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Sanu is doubtful for Sunday, but the other four may be good to go. Defensive end Courtney Upshaw could return, as well, following ankle and knee issues. Jones leads the NFL in yards per reception and catches per game since entering the league in 2011 and Beasley was the NFL’s sack leader last season.
“It’s a perfect time for us to reset,” head coach Dan Quinn noted. “For whatever reason, the bye hit us at the right time based on some injuries. It was great to have those guys back.”
The Miami Dolphins are:
- 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games against teams with winning records
- 2-7 ATS in their last nine games after gaining less than 250 yards of total offense in their previous game
- 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games against Atlanta
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games after a bye week
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games on grass
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games after gaining more than 350 yards of total offense in their previous game
The Foerster debacle is bad, but it may not even be the biggest of Miami’s concerns. Despite the Dolphins’ 2-2 record, they are just not a good football team. They have not put up more than 20 points in any game this season (they have, however, played only four instead of five due to one Hurricane Irma postponement). Cutler is averaging less than 200 passing yards per contest and his touchdown-to-interception ratio is even (three to three). Coming off a bye week, a well-rested Atlanta squad should be liking its chances to bounce back from its lone loss so far in 2017. The Falcons are 4-1 ATS in their last five following a bye, 7-3 ATS in their last 10 on grass, 4-1 ATS in their last five after gaining more than 350 yards in their previous outing, and 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings between the two teams. Miami is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 against winning opponents and 2-7 ATS in its last nine after gaining less than 250 yards in its previous outing. Count on those trends continuing.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons -10.5
In part due to injuries, the Falcons’ on-the-rise defense has taken a step back so far in 2017. It also is failing to turn the football over. As a whole, Atlanta ranks 28th in the NFL with a minus-4 turnover margin and the defense has made only one interception and one fumble recovery. Even though Ryan has been more mistake-prone this season, the offense is certainly by no means a problem. The over is 6-1 in the Dolphins’ last seven after allowing less than 15 points in their previous outing, 4-1 in their last five on the road against opponents with winning home records, and 8-3 in their last 11 following a win. It is also 18-7-1 in the Falcons’ last 26 overall, 12-1 in their last 13 at home, 5-1 in their last six following a loss, and 8-3 in their last 11 following a bye. Look for this one to go over the total.