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Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins


11/16/08


The stumbling Oakland Raiders travel to the east coast for the third time this season to take on the Miami Dolphins in this AFC, non-divisional match-up.


The Raiders have already played at Buffalo in a 24-23 game they probably should have won, and more recently, at Baltimore, where they didn’t fare as well in a 29-10 blowout. The Raiders are at 2-7 overall, but are 2-4 within the conference, with wins at Kansas City and at home vs the Jets. They will follow this game with 3 straight divisional match-ups, but I don’t think we have to worry about any look-aheads considering their current status.


Oakland is coming off of a pretty ugly game that resulted in a 16-7 loss to the visiting Carolina Panthers. They held Carolina to just 219 total net yards of offense, rushed for 147 yds themselves, forced 4 turnovers, ran 18 more plays, resulting in 7 more FD’s, held a 14 minute advantage in time-of-possession, and still lost by 11. Carolina’s stat line for the game showed an impressive 162 yds rushing, but about half of that came on a 69 yd scamper by RB DeAngelo Williams, who finished with 140 yds on 19 carries and a TD. Overall, the Panthers offense managed to get just 10 FD’s on the day. QB Jake Delhomme had possibly the worst performance of his career, completing just 7 of 27 passes for 72 yds, and he was picked off 4 times. Oakland put themselves in a hole by fumbling the opening kick-off, which set up a quick score for Carolina from just 16 yds out. The Panthers got another quick TD on a 2nd Q possession, when Williams’ took off on his 69 yd run on the first play of that drive. And the only other scoring for them came on a last minute FG by K John Kasay, which gave Carolina the improbable cover.

Oakland got good field position on a couple of their INT’s, but twice managed just 5 yds in 4 plays to settle for Janikowski FG’s. QB Andrew Walter got the start over injured JaMarcus Russell and went just 14 of 32 for 147 yds, 2 INT’s and 0 TD’s. The Raiders also had trouble hanging onto the ball, fumbling 5 times but losing just one of them. Walter suffered an ankle sprain in the game, but it looks like Russell will be back for this game anyway, as he has been taking most of the snaps in practices the past couple days. Oakland will also likely get RB Darren McFadden back for this game, although he will probably be sharing the workload with Justin Fargas who finished with 89 yds on 22 carries in the Carolina game.

The 5-4 Miami Dolphins have now won their last 3 games in a row, and actually find themselves as large home favorites for the second straight week. They were 9.5 pt favorites last week against the Seahawks, but failed to cover the large line in a 21-19 win.

 

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It looked good for a while as the Dolphins jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead, but Seattle returned a 2nd Q INT for a TD to go into half-time down by just 7. The Seahawks cut the lead to 14-13 on two 3rd Q FG’s, and then had a chance to tie the game at 21 all when they scored a TD with under 3 minutes to play in the 4th Q. But they missed the 2 pt conversion and Miami was able to run out the clock.


The Dolphins have been getting good production out of QB Chad Pennington, who has completed a little over 66% of his passes for 2200 yds, 8 TD’s and just 5 INT’s on the year. WR Greg Camarillo has been the go-to guy for the most part, but lately Ted Ginn has stepped it up also. But their main success on offense this year has revolved around RB Ronnie Brown who has rushed for over 500 yds and 9 TD’s already. The so-called ‘Wildcat Offense’ they’ve been using, with direct snaps to the RB’s, has been very successful in disrupting opposing defenses. Ricky Williams has also been quite a surprise this year with 89 carries for 388 yds and 3 TD’s. The Miami RB’s have also been instrumental in the passing game, with a combined 47 receptions for 538 yds and 2 scores between Brown, Williams and 2nd year RB Patrick Cobbs out of North Texas.


Miami surprised the Patriots earlier this year when they pulled out the wildcat formation, but opposing defenses have now been able to plan for it at least. The Dolphins won that game at New England by 3 and a half TD’s, but since then their largest margin of victory has been 9 points. This current line of 10.5 is huge when you consider this is the Miami Dolphins we are talking about here. Even with the 38 pts they scored against the Pats, this is a team that is averaging just 21.3 pts per game and giving up an average of 20.2.


Since Oakland’s opening game fiasco against the Broncos, where they gave up 41 pts, the Raiders have been giving up an average of just 22 pts per game. Of course they have only been averaging 12.5 pts per game themselves, hence the 2-7 record, but Miami doesn’t exactly have a shut-down defense. They are currently ranked 10th vs the run, just 25th vs the pass and 18th overall. And Oakland’s defense does have a shut-down CB in Nnamdi Asomugha. They’ve also got 21 sacks and 11 INT’s. There’s liable to be a lot of running plays called in this game. Oakland doesn’t have much of a passing game anyway, plus they get McFadden back. PK Janikowski’s got a big leg, so they can score from long distance. Oakland gives up lots of yards on the ground so Miami is liable to pound it. The Dolphins didn’t come close to covering the big spread against Seattle last week, and they may have trouble here too.

Since the start of the 2003 season, Miami is just 4-20-1 ATS and 13-12 SU as a home favorite. During that same period, they are 0-6-1 ATS as a home favorite of a TD or more. This is only about the 7th time in the last 15 years that they’ve ever been a double-digit home favorite.

Since the start of the 2005 season, the Raiders are 9-13 ATS as a road dog, but they are just 2-8 ATS their last 10 games as double-digit road dogs, so keep that in mind. Oakland is 7-7-3 ATS and 8-9 SU their last 15 games vs the AFC East, including 2-0 ATS and 1-1 SU this year.


Miami does have a big divisional game coming up next week with New England, so there is the possibility of a slight little peek ahead.


All things considered, I think it will be hard for Miami to cover the double-digit spread again this week.. I’ll take the Raiders +10.5.

 

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