Has there been a team more disappointing than the Denver Broncos this season? With such a fantastic defense and playmakers on the offense, this team was predicted to be a contender in the AFC West. Unfortunately, things have been a nightmare for the Broncos this year. However, despite all of the bad play and unfortunate circumstances, they are still mathematically alive for the AFC Wild Card and the AFC West. For the Miami Dolphins, they have been almost as disappointing as the Broncos. But, they too, still are mathematically alive for an AFC Wild Card spot. Kickoff inside the Hard Rock Stadium is at 1 PM ET.
Over the last 20 years, these 2 teams have played 10 times. During that span, Miami has a 6-4 edge over Denver. However, the Broncos have won 2 straight against Miami including their last game in 2014 when Denver won 39-36.
The Broncos (3-8) are coming into this matchup on a 7 game losing streak. Additionally, they are 0-5 on the road this season. Denver has gone back to Trevor Siemian as their starting quarterback after Paxton Lynch was hurt last weekend. Siemian came into the game and almost led the Broncos to a comeback win over the Raiders. Trevor gives the Broncos their best chance at winning as he has looked better than Lynch or Osweiler this year. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much. If the Broncos lose this week, they will be eliminated from any shot at the playoffs.
The Dolphins (4-7) are coming into this matchup on a 5 game losing streak and are only 2-3 at home on the season. During that span, Miami has been blown out in 4 of 5 games and quite possibly has the worst offense in the NFL. QB Jay Cutler will return to the starting QB role as he’s out of concussion protocol. He gets a chance to beat his former team and end this Dolphins losing streak.
The spread opened with Miami favored by 1 point. However, the line has jumped and now the Broncos are favored by 1.5 points. The Over/Under opened at 38 points and has gone up to 39.5 total points.
These two teams come into this matchup on a combined 12 game losing streak. Both offenses have struggled mightily during the losing streaks and neither looks like they will fix their problems anytime soon. The Dolphins have one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL at just 79.2 ypg. They traded their top RB Jay Ajayi to the Eagles about a month ago and have looked even worse running the ball since then.
Last weekend, the Dolphins lost 2 of their 3 remaining running backs and come into this matchup with just one healthy RB – Kenyan Drake. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to succeed in his time as the featured back and was in the dog house last weekend after fumbling the ball. Even if he were to play better this weekend, Miami is going up against one of the top rush defenses in the league as the Broncos only allow 87.2 ypg on the ground.
Jay Cutler returns as the starting QB to lead an anemic passing attack that averages only 223.9 ypg. Cutler has 13 TDs to 9 INTs on the season and hasn’t once led the Dolphins to victory this year. Miami will also be without 3 of their top offensive linemen due to injuries, so the Denver pass rush should wreak havoc on Cutler.
For the Denver offense, they will also struggle this weekend against a good Miami defense. However, the Dolphins have been shredded over the last 5 games as they’ve allowed 177 total points which is an average of 35.4 ppg. During that span, they gave up 35+ points in 3 of the 5 games. Denver will have opportunities, but due to their inconsistencies on offense, they won’t be able to really capitalize on these chances.
Siemian has comparable numbers to Cutler and offers a better chance at Denver throwing the ball. The Dolphins do give up 238.5 ypg through the air, which is about 6 more yards than Denver averages per game. So, there is an opportunity for Siemian to have mild success. But, for Denver to really do well on offense, they will need to improve a struggling running game that only averages 107.7 ypg. It’s very alarming that they are struggling this bad considering the talent they have at the RB position in Anderson, Charles and Booker. Miami does allow 117 rushing yards per game and they have been gashed for 170+ yards on the ground in 3 of their last 5 games.
Miami is 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games, 1-3-2 ATS in their last 6 home games, 2-5 ATS as an underdog this season, 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games following a divisional loss, and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games during Weeks 10 through 13.
I do see Denver winning this game largely due to their defense even without the suspended Aqib Talib. They have a great run defense and a ferocious pass rush. The secondary is still good enough without Talib to handle the Dolphins receivers. Additionally, Denver will force Miami to be a one-dimensional offense and they will get after Cutler.
Offensively, Denver will run the ball on the Dolphins, which will open up the field for their passing game. I see Denver having some success this week against a poor Dolphins team. Denver will break their 7 game losing streak by beating Miami 21-17.