2019 NFL Week 2: Objectives Bettors Probably HAVE to Back Miami
New England Pats @ Miami Dolphins +19
Bank of America Stadium, Miami Gardens
September 13, 2019, 10:00AM
All of the power rankings frameworks we are aware of have the Dolphins as significant underdogs to the Patriots Sunday. For instance, ESPN's Football Power Index gives New England a 17.5 point edge on a neutral field heading into week 2. Similarly, Massey-Peabody's work makes the Pat's 12.5 points better then the Fins absent home field advantage, while FiveThirtyEight sees the defending champions as 10 point favorites at Miami this week. While we concede the Patriots deserve to be favored by a considerable margin, we are not aware of any objective system that suggests the spread should be as wide as the current 19. Instead, we expect the particularly large line in this instance owes at least somewhat to bookmakers (correctly) anticipating and reacting to the public's aversion to backing Miami after the Dolphins were outscored by 49 in week 1, and now must line up against probably the best team in football, off a 30-point win. We detail below several reasons why objective bettors probably HAVE to take the flyer on the downtrodden Dolphins, in spite of the sick feeling doing so will likely produce. Foremost, our own power rankings composite implies a traveling New England squad is roughly two touchdowns better than Miami Sunday, suggesting ample value with the home underdogs +19. Additionally, that 78% of ATS wagers are down on New England serves as contrarian validatation for our play on the Dolphins cover, as bettors have been paid handsomely to fade popular public plays, especially in week 2. We discussed this phenomenon just days ago in a note detailing our Thursday Night Football pick.
As of early November 2018, per BetLabsSports database, teams taking at least ten points at home had registered a 45-29 ATS record, back to 2003. Since that time though, this sysyem has struggled, submitting a 2-6 ATS showing through the end of last season, for a cumulative 47-35 ATS (for still an impressive 57% cover rate).
The consistency of the historical profitability to this system hints that the poor performance of last year is likely merely normal variance, and that signal adherents should not be especially concerned.
In a different piece a few weeks later, we noted evidence of a tendency for big home dogs to cover even versus divisional foes.
Per Pro Football Reference, teams taking double-digits at home from opposition in their division went 1-5 ATS last year. But again, the rarity of losing years for this approach leads us to believe that 2018's weakness sets the stage for profitability this season.
Finally, we contend that historically, the Brady Bunch has exhibited some (uncharacteristic) vulnerability from the present position. While overall the Patriots are a stellar 79-48-1 ATS since 2003 when traveling, New England is a much less menacing 8-7 ATS laying ten or more points of chalk on the road, and is only 4-4 against the betting line facing the AFC East over this same horizon.
Bottom line: The combination of implied value per our primary, power rankings framework, the general tendency for big home dogs to beat the number and the Patriots particular mediocrity from this spot compel us to take the massive lay and back the Dolphins versus the spread Sunday.