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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins
Betting Line: Steelers -3 o/u 40
John J. Raspanti
The 4-1 Steelers visit the 3-2 Dolphins in a matchup of power versus finesse. The Steelers are all about power football, on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned to the lineup last week after a four game suspension. Big Ben completed sixteen of twenty seven passes for 257 yards and three scores. He looked fresh and alive in the pocket. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has gained 495 yards this season. Mendenhall is a reliable if unspectacular back. Wide receiver Hines Ward has caught 17 passes for 219 yards. Speedy youngster Mike Wallace has become the Steelers deep threat averaging twenty five yards a catch. Though they have weapons on offense, the identity of the Steelers is through their suffocating and hard hitting defense. Ranked 6th overall the Steeler defense is led by their linebacking core of Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison and James Farrior. Timmons leads the team with 57 tackles and 3 sacks. Cornerback Bryant Mcfadden and hard hitting veteran Troy Polamala are playing very well.
The Dolphins are a mixed back of formations and quick hitters. They shocked the injury depleted but still formable Packers in Green Bay last weekend. Their 9th ranked defense did a very good job of pressuring Aaron Rodgers, forcing him to throw when he wasn't ready. The Dolphins offense is led by quarterback Chad Henne who has completed almost 63 percent of passes this season. Henne has a couple of talented running backs in Ronnie Brown and veteran Ricky Williams. When he wants to pass, Henne looks for Brandon Marshall almost every time he drops back. Marshall has caught 37 passes for 466 yards, Dovone Bees has snatched 26 passes and Brian Hartland 15. Henne will need some time to throw if the Dolphins hope to be successful through the air. Defensively for the fish, safety Yerehmiah Bell and linebacker Karlos Dansby have been steady all year. Outside linebacker Cameron Wake leads the team with six sacks. His play has been stellar all season.
The Steelers are number 1 in the NFL in points allowed, allowing on average
12 points per game. They rank 10th in points scored while the Dolphins rank 24th
in points scored and 23rd in points allowed. If there is a weakness with the
Steelers, it's their passing game which ranks 28th in the NFL. However, 4 of
their 5 games were played without Rothlisberger.
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Yards per point numbers here are overwhelmingly in favor of the Steelers. They are a 13 on offense and an NFL best 24.7 on defense. Miami is a very poor 19 on offense and 14 on defense. Converted to a betting line, the Steelers would be a 14 point favorite, which is as big of a gap as you'll ever see using the yards per point method in the NFL. The Steelers are +9 in turnover margin while the Dolphins are -3.
It's hard to imagine an NFL team being 3-2 and yet not having won a home game yet. Even more difficult to imagine a team being 3-3 and yet being 3-0 on the road and 0-3 at home, but that's the way we see this one going. The NFL is difficult to handicap. At times it seems the best approach is to look at the games that seem obvious, and to bet the other way. Expect the unexpected.
But the number on this game is very reasonable at -3. We're basically just
being asked to pick a winner in a game where one team has established themselves
as one of the best in the NFL while the other is 3-2, yet putting up some pretty
poor numbers. We'll take the better team here. Steelers -3