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In-Depth Prediction, Preview, and Odds

Dolphins vs. Steelers Prediction

Monday, October 28, 2019 at 8:15pm EDT
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

This article covers a past game!

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In-depth Coverage

This is an in-depth analysis of this game, covering every possible detail and angle. Use the table of contents to navigate between each section, or just jump on in!

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Table of Contents

Last Updated: Monday, October 28, 2019 at 2:37pm EDT

Introduction

Week 8 of the NFL season concludes with a matchup of one team clearly not going anywhere and another looking to avoid joining them on that empty path.

The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) are coming off their bye week and looking to get back in the hunt for the wild-card race while keeping the Baltimore Ravens in sight in the AFC North. To do so, they must get past the winless Miami Dolphins, who have played better in their last two games yet have nothing to show for it in the win column.

Even with backup quarterback Mason Rudolph under center for Pittsburgh and having cleared concussion protocol Oct. 16 after a scary hit from Ravens safety Earl Thomas knocked him out cold in Week 5, the Steelers are still staggering 14.5-point favorites early. This line was quickly dragged down by action on Miami, which was a 17-point underdog at one point Sunday after the line opened at 16 on Friday.

Miami (0-6) has at least registered a pulse in its two most recent defeats after starting the season getting outscored 163-26 in its first four losses. The Dolphins carried a lead into the fourth quarter last Sunday at Buffalo before coming undone in an eventual 31-21 loss, though Ryan Fitzpatrick did throw for 282 yards and a touchdown while running for a second.

Miami Dolphins Review

Though it has yet to translate into victories for the Dolphins (0-6), it is clear the offense has a semblance of rhythm under Fitzpatrick, who reclaimed the starting spot from Josh Rosen with a strong performance off the bench in Miami's 17-16 loss to Washington in Week 6.

The Dolphins finished with a season-high 381 yards versus Buffalo, which was almost 100 more than their previous best. The problem was Fitzpatrick had his chance to put the Bills in a deeper hole early in the fourth quarter, but his red zone interception completely changed the tone of the game and sparked Buffalo's comeback.

Miami's defense continues to have all sorts of issues -- it has given up at least two touchdown passes in every game and 16 overall. The Dolphins have just seven sacks and two takeaways on the season while recording an NFL-worst minus-11 turnover differential.

Pittsburgh Steelers Review

The Steelers' two backup quarterbacks each have a win on the season after third-string and rookie Devlin Hodges did well managing the game in helping Pittsburgh (2-4) build a 21-0 first-half lead before hanging on for a 24-17 road victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 13.

The defense rose to the occasion by forcing three turnovers, two in the first quarter that resulted in a touchdown on a fumble recovery by rookie linebacker Devin Bush and a short field James Conner dominated by capping a 40-yard drive with a three-yard run.

Conner proved a valuable dual threat out of the backfield, totaling 119 yards from scrimmage as he caught seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. With Rudolph back, though, JuJu Smith-Schuster should be more involved in the game plan after being targeted just four times versus the Chargers and finishing with one reception for seven yards.

The Running Game

Miami Dolphins Running Offense
vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Running Defense

Miami Dolphins Running Offense

The Dolphins have begun their rebuild in earnest via trading players, and running back Mark Walton could be the latest beneficiary of their player movement. Walton has started the last two games for Miami, and the second-year pro is coming off the best game of his career with 14 carries for 66 yards against a solid Bills run defense.

His emergence has made Kenyan Drake -- who still leads Miami with 174 yards and is arguably the last trade-worthy player still on the team -- expendable ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline. While it may not result in adding a fourth first-round draft pick for 2020, there is always a market for a starting running back.

Walton, though, continues to turn heads with a remarkable personal turnaround after being cut by Cincinnati in the offseason following three arrests in a three-month span.

“I think one of his greatest strengths is his toughness,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea told the Miami Herald. “I think both physically and mentally I see a very tough player and person. That’s something we really have seen in him. It’s been a great trait.”

Update: (10/28): Drake has been traded to Arizona for a conditional pick in 2020. The Cardinals are battling injuries right now at running back with David Johnson (ankle) and Chase Edmonds (hamstring) both expected to miss the next game. Drake could help the Cardinals in both the running and passing game. He has struggled with just 174 yards on 47 carries this season, but has 22 receptions for 174 yards. Over his last four seasons with Miami, Drake has 1,532 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. 

Pittsburgh Steelers Run Defense

Pittsburgh's run defense had arguably its best game of the season before the bye, limiting the Los Angeles Chargers to 32 yards on 14 carries. Those numbers hide the fact the Steelers were playing with a 21-point lead for the final two-plus quarters, but it was a clear improvement after teams that committed to the run game were able to pile up yards in previous matchups.

Where the Steelers have been good against the run is on second down. They rank seventh in the league on such plays, yielding just 3.65 yards per rush on 60 attempts. It could be a leverage play for the defense given Miami ranks 24th in the league on second-down rushing a 3.59 yards per carry, with 18 of those 37 attempts resulting in two or fewer yards.

Stats

Miami:

Team Rushing Statistics

Carries — 120 (32nd)

Carries Per game — 20.0 (30th)

Rushing Yards — 400 (31st)

Rushing Yards Per Game — 66.7 (31st)

Average Yards Per Carry — 3.33 (29th)

Rushing Touchdowns — 3 (T-23rd)

Individual Rushing Statistics

Kenyan Drake -- 47 carries/174 yards/3.70 yards per carry/0 TDs

Mark Walton -- 30/137/4.57/0

Kalen Ballage -- 25/43/1.72/2

Ryan Fitzpatrick -- 10/32/3.20/1

Josh Rosen -- 3/13/4.33/0

Matt Haack -- 1/2/2.00/0

Albert Wilson -- 1/1/1.00/0

Jakeem Grant -- 3/-2/-0.67/0

Pittsburgh:

Team Rushing Defense (Opponent Offensive Rank)

Opponent Carries — 175 (13th)

Opponent Carries per game — 29.2 (8th)

Opponent Rushing Yards — 661 (20th)

Average Opponent Rushing Yards Per Game — 110.2 (15th)

Average Opponent Rushing Yards Per Carry — 3.78 (25th)

Opponent Rushing TDs — 4 (T-25th)

Individual Defensive Statistics

Devin Bush -- 32 solo tackles/20 assists/52 tackles/0.5 stuff/3 TFL

Terrell Edmunds -- 28/14/42/1/0

Mark Barron -- 19/10/29/0/1

Joe Haden -- 25/4/29/0.5/2

Cameron Heyward -- 20/8/28/1.5/4

Mike Hilton -- 22/3/25/2/3

Bud Dupree -- 19/5/24/2/5

Stephon Tuitt -- 18/4/22/2.5/6

Minkah Fitzpatrick -- 17/4/21/0/0

Steve Nelson -- 16/5/21/0/0

T.J. Watt -- 11/9/20/2.5/6

Vince Williams -- 9/8/17/0.5/1

Javon Hargrave -- 11/3/14/0.5/2

Kam Kelly -- 11/3/14/0/0

Tyson Alualu -- 7/5/12/1/1

Who has the Edge?

T.J. Watt's abdominal injury could cause some concern giving the Steelers are thin at the outside linebacker position. It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins continue their trend of making Walton their No. 1 running back or feature Drake one last time ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline.

Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers Running Offense
vs. Miami Dolphins Running Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers Running Offense

It is difficult to have a consistent running game with a constant shuffling of quarterbacks, and the Steelers are no different than any other team in that regard. Pittsburgh's commitment to the run game versus Los Angeles to help third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges was impressive, as was rookie Benny Snell's performance in his first extended action of the season as James Conner sat out the fourth quarter with a quad injury.

Snell finished with 17 carries for 75 yards, picking up the Steelers late as they pounded out 124 yards on 36 carries and were effective enough to let Hodges be efficient in the passing game.

“Benny was Benny,” running backs coach Eddie Faulkner told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Live. “As they say, Benny Snell football. He’s a downhill runner, he’s physical, he’s got a lot of passion. I love being around him, he wants to be good. It means a lot to him, and he will just continue to get better."

Snell likely will not see as many touches in this game since Conner has declared himself healthy, and Rudolph's return at quarterback means the run-pass play-calling will be more 50/50 than against the Chargers. But Snell will get touches as Jaylin Samuels recovers from a knee injury.

Miami Dolphins Run Defense

With the exception of its loss to the Chargers in which the Dolphins limited them to 79 yards and 2.39 yards per carry, Miami's run defense has been sieve-like. It has been breached for at least 117 yards in each of the other five games, and Buffalo's 1-2 punch of ex-Dolphin Frank Gore and Devin Singletary along with quarterback Josh Allen's scrambling resulted in an efficient 5.1 yards per carry and 117 yards.

Pittsburgh's run defense will be more of that same grind-out style, but Miami has had trouble stopping any specific opposing ground attack. The Dolphins have yielded 26 runs of 10 or more yards, which ranks tied for fifth-worst in the league. They are also 29th against the run on second down, allowing 5.83 yards per carry while giving up 22 runs of six or more yards on 59 such plays.

Stats

Pittsburgh

Team Rushing Statistics

Carries — 131 (T-27th)

Carries Per game — 21.8 (23rd)

Rushing Yards — 459 (28th)

Rushing Yards Per Game — 76.5 (26th)

Average Yards Per Carry — 3.50 (27th)

Rushing Touchdowns — 4 (T-21st)

Individual Rushing Statistics

James Conner -- 74 carries/235 yards/3.18 yards per carry/3 TDs

Benny Snell Jr. -- 23/105/4.57/0

Jaylen Samuels -- 18/50/2.78/1

Devlin Hodges -- 5/28/5.60/0

Mason Rudolph -- 8/19/2.38/0

Johnny Holton -- 1/9/9.00/0

Ben Roethlisberger -- 1/7/7.00/0

Diontae Johnson -- 1/6/6.00/0

Miami

Team Rushing Defense (Opponent Offensive Rank)

Opponent Carries — 204 (6th)

Opponent Carries per game — 34.0 (2nd)

Opponent Rushing Yards — 965 (3rd)

Average Opponent Rushing Yards Per Game — 160.8 (2nd)

Average Opponent Rushing Yards Per Carry — 4.73 (9th)

Opponent Rushing TDs — 7 (T-8th)

Individual Leaders Defensive Statistics

Jerome Baker -- 22 solo tackles/16 assists/38 tackles/1 stuff/0 TFL

Raekwon McMillan -- 17/18/35/2/2

Eric Rowe -- 21/12/33/0/0

Samuel Eguavoen -- 11/11/22/1.5/1

Davon Godchaux -- 11/11/22/0/0

Reshad Jones -- 16/5/21/1/1

Christian Wilkins -- 9/9/18/1/0

Bobby McCain -- 12/5/17/0/0

Taco Charlton -- 9/7/16/0.5/3

Xavien Howard -- 11/5/16/0/0

Avery Moss -- 7/9/16/0/0

Vince Biegel -- 5/8/13/0/2

John Jenkins -- 9/4/13/0.5/1

Walt Aikens -- 8/5/13/0/1

Minkah Fitzpatrick -- 7/4/11/0/0

Jomal Wiltz -- 8/3/11/0/0

Charles Harris -- 5/5/10/0/1

Who has the Edge?

This matchup fits right into Pittsburgh's blue-collar ethos on the ground with Conner and Snell taking turns hammering Miami's defensive line. It would not be surprising to see the Steelers ease Rudolph back into action with a run-first attack to help establish the play-action, and if they find success running the ball, all the better.

Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Passing Game

Miami Dolphins Passing Offense
vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense

Miami Dolphins Passing Offense

Even with the battering he has absorbed from the moment the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, the jury is still out on quarterback Josh Rosen. That said, Flores' decision to reinstate Ryan Fitzpatrick is also the right one because it at least moves Miami from potentially historical ineptitude to being a serviceable offense.

Fitzpatrick cleared 30,000 yards in last week's loss to Buffalo, an impressive accomplishment given his journeyman status and lengthy list of stops in the league. He has yet to beat the Steelers in six career matchups with five different teams, throwing for 1,525 yards and nine touchdowns, but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has a healthy amount of respect for the veteran.

Fitz is a guy that we have a lot of respect for”, Tomlin said to the team's official website Wednesday, adding “we’ve seen him a lot over the years. I think he is a catalyst for a lot of good for those guys. And his talents, and his experience, are reasons why. He’s a really talented guy. He’s always been adept at creating as plays get extended."

Much like Walton is emerging at running back, rookie Preston Williams is doing the same at wide receiver. The 6-foot-5 Williams, who was only on teams' radars after a 2018 season with Colorado State in which he totaled 96 receptions for 1,345 yards and 14 touchdowns, leads Miami with 23 receptions for 314 yards and a touchdown.

Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense

The bye week allowed former Dolphins and current Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick a chance to start digging into the details of Pittsburgh's defense. Despite playing just four games with Pittsburgh, he is already ninth on the team with 21 tackles and has stabilized a Steelers defense that was hammered for 890 yards in the first two games.

In the last three contests, Pittsburgh has not allowed more than 348 yards in any contest and also recorded eight takeaways.

"A week like last week allowed us to take a step back and teach him some more global things," Tomlin said of Fitzpatrick on Wednesday. "To look at things outside his helmet, and how he can be a part of that process, from detailing things out over the course of the field, but also in terms of pre-snap disguises, and things of that nature. He’s provided good quality play for us. It’s good to take a step back and do some of the other things that are less noticeable, but still significant.”

Stats

Miami:

Team Passing Statistics

Passes Attempted — 214 (22nd)

Passes Completed — 120 (29th)

Completion Percentage — 56.1 (32nd)

Gross Passing Yards — 1,284 (29th)

Net Passing Yards – 1,152 (31st)

Net Passing Yards Per Game — 192.0 (30th)

Average Gain Per Pass Play — 4.84 (31st)

Yards Per Attempt — 6.00 (30th)

Yards Per Completion — 10.70 (24th)

Passing TDs — 4 (31st)

Interceptions — 10 (T-2nd most)

Times Sacked — 24 (T-4th most)

Passer Rating — 60.6 (32nd)

Individual Passing

Ryan Fitzpatrick — 62 completions/105 attempts/59.0 completion percentage/717 yards/4 TDs/3 INT/69.4 passer rating

Josh Rosen -- 58/109/53.2/567/1/5/52.0

Individual Receiving

Preston Williams -- 23 receptions/314 yards/13.7 yards per catch/1 TDs

Kenyan Drake -- 22/174/7.9/0

DeVante Parker -- 18/284/15.8/3

Mike Gesicki -- 13/143/11.0/0

Mark Walton -- 9/58/6.4/0

Jakeem Grant -- 9/52/5.8/0

Allen Hurns -- 8/110/13.8/0

Albert Wilson -- 8/50/6.3/0

Nick O'Leary -- 4/37/9.3/0

Kalen Ballage -- 3/29/9.7/0

Isaiah Ford -- 2/9/4.5/0

Durham Smythe -- 1/24/24.0/0

Pittsburgh

Team Passing Defense Statistics (Opponent Offensive Rank)

Opponents’ Passes Attempted — 213 (25th)

Opponents’ Passes Completed — 143 (22nd)

Opponents’ Completing Percentage — 67.1 (13th)

Opponents’ Gross Passing Yards —1,602 (24th)

Opponents’ Net Passing Yards — 1,465 (25th)

Opponents’ Net Passing Yards Per Game — 244.2 (15th)

Opponents’ Yards Per Attempt — 7.52 (14th)

Opponents’ Yards Per Completion — 11.20 (19th)

Opponents’ Average Gain Per Pass Play — 6.29 (20th)

Opponents’ TD passes — 10 (T–13th)

Interceptions — 8 (T-3rd)

Sacks — 20 (T-5th)

Opponents’ Passer Rating — 89.4 (20th)

Individual Defense Sacks and Quarterback Hurries

T.J. Watt -- 4.0 sacks/25.0 yards/14 QBH

Cameron Heyward -- 3.5/26.0/5

Stephon Tuitt -- 3.5/24.0/7

Bud Dupree -- 3.0/22.0/5

Javon Hargrave -- 2.0/12.0/3

Devin Bush -- 1.0/9.0/1

Vince Williams -- 1.0/6.0/1

Tyson Alualu -- 1.0/8.0/1

Mark Barron -- 0.5/3.0/1

Anthony Chickillo -- 0.5/2.0/1

Interceptions and Passes Broken Up

Devin Bush -- 2 INTs/3 PBU

Cameron Sutton -- 1/5

Minkah Fitzpatrick -- 1/3

Kam Kelly -- 1/1

T.J. Watt -- 1/3

Mike Hilton -- 1/3

Mark Barron -- 1/1

Joe Haden -- 0/3

Who has the Edge?

In addition to Fitzpatrick, rookie Devin Bush's learning curve has shown signs of acceleration after his first big-time performance in the win over the Chargers. He has interceptions in the last two games, and like Fitzpatrick, has helped stabilize the defense after a slow start. Ryan Fitzpatrick will present a challenge with his ability to extend plays, and how the secondary shades Williams will go a long way in determining if Pittsburgh can continue forcing turnovers at a higher clip.

Advantage: Push

Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense
vs. Miami Dolphins Passing Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense

The player likely most happy to see Rudolph back is JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has had a rough transition to becoming Pittsburgh's No. 1 wide receiver following the offseason departure of Antonio Brown. His one-catch performance against the Chargers was not entirely unexpected given the Steelers had to install a conservative game plan for their best chances to win while playing to Hodges' skillset, but Rudolph's return means a full playbook and likely more targets.

“He’s been great. He’s been tough," offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner told DKPittsburghSports.com. "I challenged him a week ago, I told him, I said, ‘Look.’ — he was very disappointed when he put the ball on the ground against Baltimore — and I said, ‘I wouldn’t change that call one time. We want to go to you. We’re going to go to you.’"

A Dolphins defense giving up 262.3 passing yards per game could provide the perfect opportunity for Smith-Schuster to have his long-awaited breakout game. After recording eight 100-yard games in 2018, he has topped out at 84 yards in Week 2 versus Seattle in Rudolph's first start.

Miami Dolphins Passing Defense

While the formula for passer rating rivals that of nuclear physics, the general consensus is when a passer rating is 100 or higher, it means the quarterback is almost always being effective and successful. This brings us to the Dolphins, whose opponents have compiled a staggering passer rating of 127.9 through the first six games.

As a reminder, a perfect passer rating is 158.3, which Baltimore achieved in its season-opening romp over Miami.

No team has finished with less than a 90 rating, and that Dak Prescott got that in large part because he threw the only interception Miami has recorded. The 127.9 rating is on pace to obliterate the previous mark of 116.2 set by the 2015 New Orleans Saints, but the Dolphins are involved in a four-way race to ignominy because Atlanta, Arizona, and Oakland all entered Week 8 with opponent passer ratings of 115 or better.

Cornerback Brian Rowe was pressed into duty at safety against Buffalo with regular starter Reshad Jones sidelined by a chest injury. Miami's secondary has been banged up most of the season, and despite the haul they received in dealing away Minkah Fitzpatrick, it has done the Dolphins no favors in the short term.

“I feel like we left it all out there,” Rowe told the Dolphins' official website about the secondary's effort versus Buffalo. “Besides general mistakes, missed tackles, some penalties that kind of hurt us, I think we played well except we’ve just got to get some turnovers to help the offense out.

“We had the lead. It’s like we’re inching toward the win; we’ve just got to get over that hump.”

Stats

Pittsburgh

Team Passing Statistics

Passes Attempted — 190 (29th)

Passes Completed — 124 (28th)

Completion Percentage — 65.3 (14th)

Gross Passing Yards — 1,232 (31st)

Net Passing Yards – 1,200 (29th)

Net Passing Yards Per Game — 200.0 (28th)

Average Gain Per Pass Play — 6.15 (21st)

Yards Per Attempt — 6.48 (28th)

Yards Per Completion — 9.94 (30th)

Passing TDs — 8 (T-21st)

Interceptions — 5 (T-15th most)

Times Sacked — 5 (32nd most)

Passer Rating — 86.6 (21st)

Individual Passing

Mason Rudolph — 63 completions/94 attempts/67.0 completion percentage/646 yards/7 TDs/2 INT/102.5 passer rating

Ben Roethlisberger -- 35/62/56.5/351/0/1/66.0

Devlin Hodges -- 22/29/75.9/200/1/1/91.2

Jaylen Samuels -- 4/5/80.0/35/0/1/56.3

Individual Receiving

James Conner -- 26 receptions/231 yards/8.9 yards per catch/2 TDs

JuJu Smith-Schuster -- 25/340/13.6/2

Diontae Johnson -- 20/212/10.6/2

Vance McDonald -- 14/127/9.1/2

Jaylen Samuels -- 13/83/6.4/0

James Washington -- 9/140/15.6/0

Ryan Switzer -- 8/27/3.4/0

Donte Moncrief -- 4/18/4.5/0

Nick Vannett -- 3/33/11.0/0

Benny Snell Jr. -- 1/14/14.0/0

Xavier Grimble -- 1/3/3.0/0

Miami

Team Passing Defense Statistics (Opponent Offensive Rank)

Opponents’ Passes Attempted — 168 (31st)

Opponents’ Passes Completed — 116 (31st)

Opponents’ Completing Percentage — 69.0 (6th)

Opponents’ Gross Passing Yards — 1,574 (25th)

Opponents’ Net Passing Yards — 1,539 (22nd)

Opponents’ Net Passing Yards Per Game — 256.5 (11th)

Opponents’ Yards Per Attempt — 9.37 (1st)

Opponents’ Yards Per Completion — 13.57 (1st)

Opponents’ Average Gain Per Pass Play — 8.79 (1st)

Opponents’ TD passes — 16 (T–3rd)

Interceptions — 1 (T-31st)

Sacks — 7 (T-30th)

Opponents’ Passer Rating — 127.9 (1st)

Individual Defense Sacks and Quarterback Hurries

Taco Charlton -- 3.0 sacks/15.0 yards/4 QBH

Vince Biegel -- 2.0/12.0/5

John Jenkins -- 1.0/7.0/1

Samuel Eguavon -- 0.5/0.5/2

Jonathan Ledbetter --0.5/0.5/1

Jomal Wiltz -- 0/0/2

Interceptions and Passes Broken Up

Bobby McCain -- 1 INT/2 PBU

Eric Rowe -- 0/4

Chris Lammons -- 0/2

Who has the Edge?

This matchup has the feel of Smith-Schuster finally having a No. 1 WR-type game in which he clears 100 yards, but at the same time, Miami's secondary will undoubtedly rotate his way in coverage. Diontae Johnson had been coming on in the two games before Rudolph got hurt, totaling 11 catches for 114 yards, and this could offer him an opportunity for a breakout effort as well.

Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers

Intangibles

Miami Dolphins

If there is one positive for the Dolphins that has come out of this misery, it is that Flores has kept the team together through it all. There has been a buy-in to the rebuild/tanking process, and the Dolphins have shown flashes of quality play. The challenge for Flores is getting those flashes to be stretches, which happened at times last week in Buffalo.

There is progress, but it is coming in small increments.

When given the opportunity, kicker Jason Sanders has done his job -- he has made all six of his PATs, connected on 5 of 8 field goals and recorded touchbacks on 13 of 16 kickoffs. Punter Matt Haack is averaging 43.2 net yards in his 31 efforts while putting nine inside the opposing 20.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tomlin continues to exude a calm demeanor as his team tries to dig out of this 2-4 start knowing full well Ben Roethisberger is not going to rescue the Steelers. Pittsburgh knows this is an excellent chance to build momentum ahead of a critical five-game stretch that includes games against Indianapolis and the Los Angeles Rams as well as two games versus division rival Cleveland.

The kicking game has done its part -- Chris Boswell has not missed a kick among his 23 combined PATs and field goals, hitting 11 of the latter and bailing out the offense when it gets bogged down in the red zone. Boswell's average distance on his field goals is just 33.3 yards.

Jordan Berry has shown both the big leg and finesse punting, averaging 47.1 yards while putting nine of his 26 efforts inside the opponents' 20. Pittsburgh's special teams have just 175 combined return yards on punts and kickoffs, with Ryan Switzer yet to break a long one in either compartment.

Who has the Edge?

Well-rested and getting back their quarterback, the Steelers rate a slight edge in momentum against a Dolphins team that is getting closer to playing just well enough to lose. The "Minkah Fitzpatrick Bowl" angle also gives Pittsburgh a sight edge as the safety will undoubtedly be eager to show why the Steelers gave up so much for his services.

Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers

Final Outlook

Laying two touchdowns with a second-string quarterback is a challenging pick, but the Steelers should be able to cover the 14 points. The fact Pittsburgh's offense is not exotic actually plays to its favor in this matchup because once the Steelers find something successful -- and it should not be that difficult to find something -- they will likely stick with it until the Dolphins find a way to stop it.

Miami has pieces of offense, and Fitzpatrick is clearly capable of spinning some gold from straw on a busted play or two, which prevents being overly aggressive with this pick. Still, the Steelers should return to a sense of normalcy with Rudolph under center and Smith-Schuster primed for a big performance in an easy home win.

Latest Updates, Injury Reports, and Line Movements

The final injury report shows two key players likely to be out for the Dolphins -- Jones at safety and center Daniel Kilgore. Miami's defensive shortcomings have been well-addressed, but losing Kilgore with no safety net at running back if Walton struggles to get yards with Drake's departure early plays into taking the Steelers.

Pittsburgh also fared better on the injury front as everyone but linebacker Ulysses Gilbert III who was on the injured list was a full participant in practice Saturday. That included most notably Smith-Schuster, Samuels, and Watt.

Prediction: Steelers -14 (-105)

Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com

Additional Insiders' Best Bets

Full-game Total Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

Trusting Miami's defense, especially its pass defense, is just too big an ask when it comes to taking the under, even with the number a full point above a full touchdown total. The only team Miami held under 30 points this season was Washington, which in some ways is a mirror of offensive ineptitude.

Rudolph's return means a full playbook and should also mean Smith-Schuster finally gets going. The Steelers defense is good, but Fitzpatrick should find just enough to get the Dolphins into double figures -- perhaps late -- to help carry the over in this contest.

Prediction: OVER 43 points (-115)

Full-game Prop Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

Much the way there have been opportunities to make hay moving the Patriots line down while pushing the under out, the same can be said for knocking the Steelers' line down while moving the number to favor the over.

Pittsburgh's offense has done its job with 20 or more points in the last five games, and there is confidence in Fitzpatrick to get the Dolphins into double digits and perhaps score two touchdowns. That should be enough to help deliver the over, which is on the low-side hook of a TD+FG total and the bigger concern than the high-side hook on the spread.

Player Yardage Props We Like

Smith-Schuster OVER 60.5 receiving yards (-114)

Only one stands out, though Johnson getting plus-money (+105) at over 49.5 yards was given a long stare. The expectation is Rudolph will give his No. 1 wide receiver every chance to get established in the offense and resume their connection, which means double digits in targets. That should send Smith-Schuster on his way to producing a solid yardage total.

This space also likes Smith-Schuster scoring an anytime touchdown at -106 per PointsBet.

Prediction: Steelers -7.5/OVER 37.5 points teaser (-110)

Half-time Side Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

There is a convincing argument to take the Dolphins, who have actually outscored opponents 20-19 on the road in the first half of their two road games. And Rudolph may need a series or two to scrape off the rust from missing one game and having the bye week on top of it.

But the feeling is the Monday Night atmosphere in Pittsburgh will turn the game into a feeding frenzy in the Steelers' favor. Throw in another morale-sapping trade with Drake shipped to the Cardinals and Minkah Fitzpatrick looking for revenge, the Steelers should be able to grab a two-score lead.

Prediction: Steelers -7.5 (Even)

Half-time Total Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

Even with the Dolphins playing well in their two road games, there is a certain amount of distrust in a team that has yielded an average of 16.3 first-half points in its six games. Pittsburgh's offense is again at full strength at all the skill positions, and with a realistic outcome of a 17-7 first-half scoreline possible, the over gets the nod here.

Prediction: OVER 22.5 points (-110)

Half-time Prop Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

There was some thought to taking the Steelers and the 22.5-point over double in the first half, but the better play for value is simply the points band that still offers a solid plus-money return. Pittsburgh has scored 13 or more points in its last two games, and while there is some concern Miami could lay a defensive egg and give up 20, the hedge is conservative play-calling in the first series or two winds up aiding this pick.

Prediction: Steelers to score 11-20 points band (+138)
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.