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Patriots

vs.

Dolphins

Week 15

NFL Pick

12/15/13

The Miami Dolphins (7-6, 3-3 home) are fighting for their playoffs lives and will host the New England Patriots (10-3, 3-3 away) at 1 PM EST on Sunday. The game will be televised on CBS. The Patriots will take the field without TE Rob Gronkowski, who has succumbed to a season ending injury. A Patriots win would clinch the AFC East, while a loss could cost them their second seed status and a first round bye should the Cincinnati Bengals take care of business in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Miami will look to win its third consecutive game. They have battled through scandal to 4-2 mark in their last six games and could make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Strong play from QB Ryan Tannehill has steadied the Dolphins down the stretch. The Texas A&M alum enters this game on the heels of his best effort of 2013, a 20/33 performance for 3 TDs and 1 INT in a 34-28 win over the Steelers. Tannehill has been in tune with WR Brian Hartline and the duo has had a TD together in each of the last two games.

This won't be the first time the Patriots play without Gronkowski this year. They are 5-1 in his absence and 6-2 in their last eight games. They have been impressive this year as their success has come with significantly less talent on both sides of the ball than in recent years.

This game is a PK at 5 Dimes with a total of 45.5 points with 74% of wagers going for the over, according to sportsbook.com's betting trends feature. The total has gone OVER in 12 of New England's last 18 games on the road. The total has gone OVER in 4 of Miami's last 6 games when playing at home against New England. New England is 5-1-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Miami. However, New England is 1-6-1 ATS in its last 8 games on the road.

The Patriots have been comeback artists this year and never seem out of the game thanks in large part to future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady. The three-time Super Bowl winner has had a couple of bad games this year, but has also played out of his mind at times. For example, he went 34 for 50 for 344 YDs and 3 TDs in a come from behind win against the Broncos. Can he put up those numbers without "Gronk" around? There is only one way to find out.

Miami desperately needs this win to keep pace with the second wild card holding Baltimore Ravens, who have the same record as them, but own the tiebreaker. With three games left to go, there is little to no room for error. Expect HC Philbin to throw everything he's got at the Patriots. He is likely to take aim at New England's 31st ranked rush defense. If they can keep the ball moving on the ground that will go very far for their cause.

This game is actually an exellent example of how sharp players bet. This game opened at New England -3 at a couple of sportsbooks. Now, that +3 wasn't available for very long. Likely only a small handful of sharp bettors got a true +3 (laying -110). However, the +2.5 was available until Wednesday of this week, and the sharps who missed the opener no doubt bought the half point bringing this game up to +3 from +2.5.

With the game now sitting at pk across the board, it's very difficult for us to recommend the Dolphins side, despite the fact that we feel they have a very good chance at winning this game. Giving up that kind of value on a game is just not something a sharp bettor would do. In fact, it's a classic "square" move. The value as far as the line goes, now lies on the Patriots side.

That being said, we do think it's a good spot for the Fish. The Pats have the better offense but all of the numbers we like to use to handicap an NFL game suggest this game is either dead even, or they favor the Dolphins by a point or two. With the Dolphins at home, and the Pats dealing with the loss of Gronkowski, this game could define the Dolphins season. It's a pass in the real world for us as we won't play a game at pk that we could have had at +3. But...... Dolphins pk

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