Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots -7.0 (-140)
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
October 29, 2015, 5:25pm EDT
We endured our first loss picking Thursday Night Football last week after siding with the Niners at home versus the Seahawks. Unfortunately for us, San Francisco's offense was virtually non-existent. Save a solitary drive in the third quarter that yielded a field goal, the 49ers could not string together a meaningful sequence of solid offense all game. On the other hand, Russell Wilson played exceptionally, notching 235 passing yards, including a TD (and 2 picks). Marshawn Lynch also chipped in 125 rushing yards and a touchdown. The final score read 20-3 Seattle, and the +7.5 points we received as backers of the underdogs was revealed as a mere pittance.
We look to get back on the horse though tonight with a play on the New England Patriots as hosts to the Miami Dolphins. The Pats are a perfect 6-0 straight up, but, after dropping their last two out, are a mediocre 3-3 versus the number. The Patriots' three losses against the spread were dealt by the Steelers in week 1, and more recently the Colts and Jets in weeks 6 and 7.
A commonality among teams recording wins against New England ATS is strong quarterback play: Ben Roethlisberger ranked #7 by Total QBR when the Steelers eked out the 1/2 point cover, Andrew Luck sorted 12th in the Colts week 6 win versus the number, and the Jets' unlikely hero, Ryan Fitzpatrick, ranked #7 among qualified QBs last week.
Miami's Ryan Tannehill is #28 on the season by Total QBR. While the fourth year man from Texas A&M sits atop the heap in last week's Total QBR lineup, it is worth noting that Tannehill's moment in the sun this season materialized against the #27 ranked passing defense (by Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) of the Houston Texans. Tannehill never managed to ascend above 15th in the Total QBR hierarchy prior to week 7.
Also, consider that the New England defense ranks #11 versus the pass by DVOA. As such, we are not inclined to bet on a repeat of last week's 18 completions on 19 attempts and 4 TD performance from Miami's quarterback. Instead, we regard a home game facing a squad that has generally struggled to put points on the board as a good spot for the Pats to regain traction against the spread.
Supporting this outlook, every factor in our power rankings composite individually calls for a New England cover, with an average of three points to spare. Similarly, two of the three computer-based algorithms we employ point to the Patriots beating the number this evening.
We paid up get to the key 7 number, but our model suggests value is still apparent at Pats -8.
New England is clearly the public play, as SportsInsights reports 62% of spread wagers are backing the favorites. As an offset to this modest negative though, the Patriots to cover is supported by 0.5 line value (based on the 7.5 point opening spread reported by VegasInsider).