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The Miami Dolphins (5-5, 3-2 home, 7-3 ATS) have won two of their last three games and thanks to a 20-16 win against San Diego one week ago, they are tied with the Jets for the AFC's second wildcard spot. They will host the Carolina Panthers (7-3, 3-2 away, 7-3 ATS) at 1 PM on FOX. The Panthers are in a great position exiting a big win against the Patriots. They trail New Orleans by just a game and get to play that team twice before the year is over. However, they must get past the pesky Dolphins first!
QB Cameron Newton exits what is arguably the best effort of his career (209 YDs, 3 TDs, 125.4 RAT, 62 RUSH). He looked poised and confident against the New England Patriots, a team that has been counted as a stalwart of the NFL for many years. He is incredibly tough to sack as proved by a 14 YD third down conversion where he actually covered 75.8 YDs and made six defenders miss. Throw in the fact that his arm is basically a rocket launcher and Cam is asserting himself as one of the best in the NFL. With a bevy of targets that includes Tedd Ginn Jr, Greg Olsen, Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, the Cam Newton show is likely to keep rolling.
What makes the Panthers, one of the worst teams in the NFL not very long ago, scary is the fact that the defense is even better than the stellar offense. They are incredibly stingy against the run, ranking 3rd in the league at 84.5 YPG. They can defend the pass too; they rank 5th at 209.5 YPG.
The low scoring Miami Dolphins offense will have to find a way to produce more points. That starts with second year QB Ryan Tannehill. The Texas A&M alum is gradually progressing and his QB RAT of 81.5 thus far in 2013 is an improvement over last year's number of 76.5. He has connected with seven different targets for a total of 14 TDs. His favorite targets are Brian Hartline (48 rec, 499 YDs, 2 TDs) and Mike Wallace (44 rec, 534 YDs, 1 TD) the latter of which is questionable for Sunday (hamstring).
The Dolphins use the tandem of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas for their running attack. Miller has gained 467 yards on 104 attempts for 2 TDs this season. Thomas doesn't get the ball as much and has 74 attempts for 271 YDs and 3 TDs. Rushing against Carolina will be no simple task, but it must be established if Tannehill is going to get things going through the air.
A win by the Panthers would be the first time they put together seven consecutive wins since Dec. 22, 2002-Oct. 12, 2003.
Tempting to go with the home dog Dolphins here but we're simply going to go with the better team here to get the straight up win and hope the cover follows. The Panthers are the better team. Panthers -4
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