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Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens Over/Under Pick Wk 13

Miami Dolphins(7–4) @ Baltimore Ravens(6–5)

  • Where: M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore, Maryland
  • When: December 4, 2016 1:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Dolphins +3.5 (-110) vs. Ravens -3.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Dolphins +138 vs. Ravens -164
  • Over / Under: Over 41.5 (-110) vs. Under 41.5 (-110)

If the playoffs started today, the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens would be playing each other in the Wild Card round of the 2016/17 NFL Playoffs, in prime time with everything on the line. As it stands, these two teams are actually just playing a standard 1PM game in Week 13, but the stakes are no lower.

The Miami Dolphins are currently second place in the AFC East behind the 9–2 New England Patriots (as usual). Having lost to the Pats already in Week 2, and playing them again in Week 17, it’s unlikely that they would be able to steal the division. However, as of now they sit at 7–4 and currently merit the #6 seed and the second AFC Wild Card spot.

The Baltimore Ravens currently top the AFC North at 6–5, their Week 9 victory over Pittsburgh (then without Big Ben) the only thing that puts them on top of the Steelers, also 6–5. With the precarious division lead, the Ravens are currently the #3 seed in the AFC.

However, with 5 games left to play and an incredibly tight playoff race in the AFC, it’s very unlikely these two teams retain their current seeding, and that’s what makes this game such an important matchup.

Let’s take a look at each team individually and see what value this game holds for interested parties.

Can Miami Sustain Their (Relatively Improbable) Run?

If the Dolphins beat the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, they will have won 7 games in a row. This would be the first time that Miami has won seven straight in 31 years.

And after years of stories about the Dolphins quitting on coaches, not playing to the whistle, and acquiring some “bad boys” in free agency, last week’s game against the 49ers did seem to prove that they have the heart to make it a historic season. Watching Ndamukong Suh chase down Colin Kaepernick on the final play of the game was a testament to this team’s rise.

The unexpected, phenomenal play of RB Jay Ajayi has been a big part of this success. But the Dolphins have been shut down on the ground during their win streak more than once, and still found ways to score points. Some people would point to the play of Ryan Tannehill as being outstanding during their win streak, saying that he has been “more than a game manager” and that this is his “breakout season.”

While the fourth year is certainly the time for quarterbacks to either ascend to prominence or fade into obscurity, there may be another factor contributing to Tannehill’s six weeks of success. The six teams that the ‘fins have played during their run average out to 20th in the league in total defense.

In fact, Miami hasn’t played a team that cracks the top 10 in defense since Weeks 1 and 2 against the Seahawks and Patriots, both losses. While of course this was before the emergence of Ajayi and “new look” Tannehill, it’s nonetheless true that Miami has yet to prove themselves against a great defense.

With four of their final five games against Baltimore, Arizona, Buffalo, and New England (all among the top 10 in passing defense), Tannehill will certainly get a chance to show what he’s really made of. This will be particularly difficult if the game-ending back injury sustained by receiver DeVante Parker last week causes him to miss any time, as Parker is #2 on the team in targets, receptions, yards, and TDs.

So in summary, while some may look at the Dolphins’ run as indicative of an ascendance into relevancy, there’s at least an argument to be made that 6 consecutive one-possession victories are really more of a statistical anomaly, indicative of a return to the status quo.

The Ravens’ Most Exciting Unit Is Special Teams

You certainly don’t hear this one very often, but there’s a good chance that the MVP of the Baltimore Ravens is their kicker.

In a season that saw the single-week record for missed extra points broken, Justin Tucker is the only kicker in the league that has not missed a single field goal or PAT. Tucker accounts for 44% of the Ravens total points on the season: 8.7 of their 19.8 points per game.

Baltimore Ravens vs Miami Dolphins Betting Lines

MVP! MVP!

With 96 total points, he has contributed more to the scoreboard than Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco, who sits at 78 points off of 11 passing and 2 rushing touchdowns. Last week against the Bengals, Tucker hit from 52, 57, and 54 — all in the first half — and the Ravens went on to win by 5.

But while the kicker has been getting a lot of attention in the media recently, his holder – punter Sam Koch – also deserves a serious helping of praise.

While punting yardage is influenced by a variety of different factors, what matters in the punt game is the end result. Sam Koch is fourth in the league in punts downed inside the 20, and second in the league in total return yards.

This is primarily because of his well-disciplined coverage units as well as his innovative collection of different punting strokes, which he likens to having multiple different clubs in the golf bag. Sending off a screwball that keeps an elite return man from having an opportunity might not light up the stat column, but it does go a long way towards successfully managing games.

Even with a league-leading defense, the kicker and the punter are the two players getting attention on the Baltimore Ravens. But the funniest part is that not only is their special teams unit their best of the three units, it’s also a huge part of their identity.

The Ravens are completely bought into the style of football that wins game because of field position. Some teams try to take 50-yard shots down the field each possession and win the ball with dynamic playmakers or giant tight ends.

Baltimore knows that it has a pedestrian offensive attack, and it accepts this. Unlike teams like the Pats or the Cowboys, the Ravens’ goal is instead to pin the opponent inside their 10, make a stop, get the ball back at midfield, and travel the 8 yards necessary to get inside Justin Tucker’s range.

And with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers breathing down their necks and wild card spots proving very hard to come by in the AFC, they’re going to have to keep up this style of play if they want to make a run.

Why I’m Taking the Under for Miami’s Trip to Baltimore

As all experienced gamblers know, the trends that become established throughout the year generally equalize during the course of the season. There are a couple of gambling trends in this matchup that could potentially go the other direction, but the simplest one for me is I just don’t think it’s likely that the Miami Dolphins will win 7 games in a row.

I think that the under is a very safe bet here, as two stout defenses go up against two quarterbacks that can struggle to move the ball. With Baltimore in the top third for sacks, and Miami in the bottom third for sacks allowed, there’s a good chance there’s going to be a lot of special teams in this game, something Ravens’ fans have to feel good about.

So not only are the Ravens almost certain to win the field position game in a low-scoring affair, but as the more veteran team they’re also much more likely to realize how important this game is for their ultimate playoff goals.

I’m not nearly as confident that the Dolphins don’t let this one slip, only to have it haunt them later when they lose their wild card spot to an AFC West team. In the end, when it’s a great rushing offense vs. a great rushing defense, everything on the line, in December, in Baltimore, you go with the cold weather home team to take care of business.

And when the 2016/17 Baltimore Ravens take care of business, you know it’s a low-scoring affair.

I think this game ends up at 16 – 10, Baltimore, and I recommend that interested parties bet the under (listed at 41.5) at the Bovada sportsbook.

David HeinenThis article was written by David Heinen

David Heinen is a freelance psychology writer by day, inveterate NFL junkie by night. Born and raised on the Green Bay Packers, David is a die-hard Cheesehead, not to mention a cheese enthusiast in his spare time.


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