The most lopsided spread of the Week 2 NFL schedule is an AFC East battle between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Game time is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 15 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Fans in local markets can watch the game on CBS.
According to this week’s NFL odds, the Patriots are hefty 19-point favorites on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 47.5 points.
Heading into the season, most expected the Dolphins to be a train wreck, and that’s exactly what we saw in Week 1. After the Dolphins traded away some of their best players a few days before the game, they were helpless against the Ravens. It was 28-0 before Miami got on the board with a 54-yard field goal, meaning they didn’t even sniff the red zone when they actually scored. In the end, it was a 59-10 humiliation at home.
To make matters worse, the Dolphins are set to play their next three games against teams that also made the playoffs last year. That’d be a brutal schedule for any team, much less one that is clearly tanking and focusing more on the future than the present. In other words, things could get worse before they get better.
Meanwhile, the reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots looked to be in mid-season form in Week 1. New England dismantled the Steelers 33-3, holding a 20-0 lead at halftime and pouring it on in the second half. The Patriots started slowly in 2018, but it doesn’t look like that’ll happen again.
New England now moves into a stretch in which they play their three AFC East rivals in consecutive weeks. All three are expected to struggle this season, so the schedule sets up well for them. In fact, the Patriots don’t face a team that made the playoffs last year until November. Unless they lose focus or suffer a rash of injuries, it could be a while until New England loses a game in 2019.
Of course, while this game looks lopsided on paper, the Dolphins have held their own against the Patriots in recent years, especially at home. To be fair, last year’s game included a miracle on the last play of the game. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Patriots have lost in five of their last six trips to Miami. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is also a longtime New England assistant, so he should have some insight on how to approach Bill Belichick and company.
It’s shocking to see a spread this big in an NFL game. Even after watching last week’s games, it’s almost crazy to think about eating nearly 20 points. That being said, it’d be even crazier to put any faith in the Dolphins right now. Despite Miami’s recent success hosting the Patriots, I’m going to swallow the points and lean toward the Patriots to cover.
For what it’s worth, when Belichick faced former disciple Matt Patricia last season, the Patriots lost by a substantial margin. But even if Flores has insight into stopping New England, he may not have the personnel to execute it. As mentioned, the Dolphins have already traded away key players, most notably linebacker Kiko Alonso. Other players are trying to force a trade to avoid being a part of this disastrous season. The Miami players have to be demoralized after last week’s 59-10 loss, and unless Flores is the greatest motivational speaker in the world, it’s hard to see them bouncing back from it.
Moreover, facing the Patriots has to make the task feel even more impossible for the Dolphins. As mentioned, Tom Brady and the New England offense were in midseason form last week. Josh Gordon scored a touchdown, Phillip Dorsett scored two touchdowns, and Julian Edelman hauled in six catches for over 80 yards. Also, all three New England running backs made an impact. The kicker is that the Patriots have added Antonio Brown to the mix, adding one of the best wide receivers in football to an already potent offense.
Things are nearly as bleak for the Miami offense. The Dolphins managed just 200 total yards and 12 first downs last week while turning the ball over three times. Part of the problem is the Miami defense couldn’t get stops and so the Dolphins had the ball for less than 20 minutes. But that’s not necessarily something they can expect to be different this week. The Miami rushing attack went nowhere, making it difficult for Ryan Fitzpatrick to get anything going through the air. They’ll now face a team that limited Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers to just three points last week.
Obviously, you should always think twice before eating 19 points in an NFL game. But other than Flores being familiar with the Patriots, it’s hard to make an argument that the Dolphins can make this game even a little competitive. This isn’t the Miami team that has held serve at home against New England five of the last six years. This is a roster that’s been slashed and burned facing one of the Super Bowl favorites. Eat the points and watch New England cover.