The Miami Dolphins will try to stay perfect at home this weekend when they play host to the Detroit Lions. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 21, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Fans in some markets will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Oddsmakers list the Lions as 3-point favorites on the road with an over/under of 47 points. Click here to see a full list of this week’s NFL betting odds.
By the narrowest of margins, the Dolphins avoided a three-game losing streak last week with a comeback win over the Bears. With Brock Osweiler filling in for the injured Ryan Tannehill, Miami overcame a 21-10 deficit and an overtime fumble at the goal line by Kenyan Drake to beat the Bears 31-28. On the heels of back-to-back losses, the Dolphins may have saved their season with that comeback.
The win got Miami to 4-2 on the season, keeping them tied with the Patriots at the top of the AFC East. Of course, with the Patriots hitting their stride, the Dolphins may need to keep winning in order to keep pace in the division. With Tannehill ruled out for this week’s game, Miami will continue to put their faith in Osweiler.
The Lions, on the other hand, are hoping to start working their way up the NFC North standings after last week’s bye. Detroit landed a big win over the Packers right before their week off despite being nearly double in total yards.
At 2-3 on the season, Matt Patricia and company are far from out of the woods after a sluggish start to the season. They are just a game behind first-place Chicago, but the Lions are also playing three of their next four games on the road. With the Dolphins playing a backup quarterback, it’s critical for the Lions to take advantage of this opportunity to get a win on the road and keep things moving in the right direction.
I understand that the Dolphins are underdogs at home because they’re going with a backup quarterback. But that’s not enough for me to lean toward the Lions to cover. Detroit has rarely been able to put together four good quarters, so I’m wary to pick them as a road favorite. I’ll take my chances with Osweiler and the Dolphins.
One thing that stands out about the Dolphins this year is their perfect 3-0 record at home. They’ve dominated the 4th quarter in all three games, taking advantage of their opponents tiring out under the Florida heat late in the game. That’s something that can’t be overlooked, especially against a Detroit team that’s used to playing inside controlled conditions in a dome or cold-weather games against their division rivals.
We also shouldn’t assume that Osweiler will be a huge drop-off from Tannehill. Despite a couple of interceptions, he threw for over 380 yards and three touchdowns last week. Unlike the Bears, the Lions will actually be able to prepare to face Osweiler, which should make a difference. However, there’s no denying that Osweiler faced a much better defense last week against the Bears than he’ll face this week against the Lions. Remember, Osweiler is comfortable with Miami head coach Adam Gase after the time they spent together in Denver, so last week’s performance may not be an aberration.
Regardless of their quarterback, the Dolphins are always looking to their running game to do most of the heavy lifting. Last week’s fumble aside, Drake and Frank Gore have formed a viable backfield tandem, helping Miami average over 100 yards rushing per game. This week, they’ll be facing one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL. Even in their wins, the Lions have been shredded on the ground. I don’t see that changing this week, meaning Osweiler should have plenty of support from his running game.
On the other side of the ball, the Lions have seemingly refused to commit to the running game this season. Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson has shown flashes, but he’s still not getting enough touches. Instead, the Lions are putting everything on Matthew Stafford. To be fair, that’s not a bad strategy. The Lions have some dangerous weapons in the passing game and Stafford has thrown nine touchdowns to just one interception in his last four games.
However, being that one-dimensional on offense isn’t helping the Lions. When Johnson has had 10 or more carries, the Lions are 2-0, but when his carries are in the single digits, they’re 0-3. While Miami’s defense is average at best, they will surely find a way to get some stops and perhaps force a couple of turnovers if the Lions are too reliant on Stafford and the passing game.
In the end, I don’t have enough faith in the Lions to pick them as a road favorite, especially since they’re 0-2 on the road. With a good running game and a propensity for winning the 4th quarter at home, I think the Dolphins will find a way to win this game. I like my chances with the Dolphins as home underdogs against the spread.