Atlanta Falcons (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U) vs. Miami Dolphins (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U)
NFL: Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Pick ’em. Total: 36.5.
The Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons will kick off preseason action when they clash at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Thursday night. Atlanta enjoyed one of its best seasons in franchise history in 2016 but must now bounce back from collapsing in the Super Bowl. The Dolphins, meanwhile, will be without quarterback Ryan Tannehill for an indefinite amount of time.
Out of their system
The Falcons have to be relieved that a game–any game–is just about here. They must erase the demons of their overtime loss to New England in the Super Bowl six months ago, and they certainly have the talent to do it. Reigning MVP Matt Ryan is back at quarterback and he will have his usual weapons at his disposal in running backs Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman plus wide receiver Julio Jones. That being said, Jones underwent offseason foot surgery and is not being rushed back.
“Just staying in shape,” the former Alabama standout said when asked what he has been up to. “Staying in the thick of things. Just moving around. Just hearing the play-calls; going out and getting set. I have to do that. Even though it’s not really no-contact, I’m exploding. I’m doing these little things. I’ve still got to stay in football shape and go out there and hear the call. Just being a professional.”
Tannehill suffered a knee injury in practice earlier this week and there is growing concern that he could require season-ending surgery. The Dolphins are already weighing their options at quarterback, and those include signing Colin Kaepernick or Jay Cutler. For now, Matt Moore is on the roster and remains a possible starter if Tannehill is sidelined for an extended period.
But that is not where the bad news ends for Miami. Running back Jay Ajayi is dealing with a concussion and starting left guard Ted Larsen could miss a considerable portion of the regular season with a biceps injury. The Dolphins’ internal options to replace Larsen are Kraig Urbik (who has been working at center in place of Mike Pouncey), rookie Isaac Asiata, Anthony Steen, and Jake Brendel. Pouncey is banged up but should be good to go for Week 1 next month.
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall
- 8-1 ATS in their last nine road games
- 6-1 ATS in their last seven games on grass
The Miami Dolphins are:
- 6-13 ATS in their last 19 home games
- 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games against Atlanta
- 6-1 Over in their last seven overall
No team will be playing its starters much in Week 1 of the preseason, but Atlanta will want to make a statement on the heels of what transpired in February. While it is hard to make a statement when games don’t really matter, head coach Dan Quinn has to hope that is team remembers what it feels like to win. As for the banged-up Dolphins, they won’t even have the option of playing several injured starters. The Falcons are 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall, 8-1 ATS in their last nine on the road, and 6-1 ATS in their last seven on grass. Miami is 6-13 ATS in its last 19 at home and 1-4-1 ATS in the last six meetings between the two teams. Don’t be surprised if those trends continue.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta improved at the 2016 season progressed, but these were still two of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Falcons finished 25th in total yards allowed and Miami was 29th. The Dolphins scored 27 points in their preseason opener in 2016 and allowed 41 in their second outing. The over is 16-4-1 in the Falcons’ last 21 overall, 3-1-1 in their last five on the road, and 5-2-1 in their last eight on Thursdays. It is also 6-1 in the Dolphins’ last seven overall, 5-0 in their last five at home, and 6-2 in their last eight on grass. Look for this one to go over the total.