By Jason Green
Will he play or won’t he? That is the question for Miami QB Ryan Tannehill, who has missed 3 Games with a knee injury and is a question mark for this Game. If he cannot go backup Matt Moore will get his 4th straight start and he has 8 TD and 3 INT in leading the Fish to a 2-1 record. Miami was struggling, but caught fire and that beGAn with a 30-15 home win over the Steelers where they played great on both sides of the ball. RB Jay Ajayi rushed for over 200 yards in that Game and he will be counted on for another big Game in this Wild Card match up.
In the Steelers last Game of the season they were at home and beat the Cleveland Browns in overtime. They GAve up a ton of rushing yards and their offense was not great, but with the playoff seed already set they sat key players on both sides of the ball iNCluding QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh was solid this season on both sides of the ball ranking 11th in ppg and 10th in opponents’ ppg.
Miami has covered the spread in 4 of their last 5 Games facing Pittsburgh.
In their last Game the Dolphins lost to the New England Patriots 35-14 where they did not cover on the road as a 7.5-point underdog.
The Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns at home 27-24 in OT in their season finale with the Game a PICK since they were a 3-point favorite.
Miami got beat badly in their last Game facing the Patriots, especially on D where they GAve up 35 points and nearly 400 total yards. Moore was decent with 205 passing yards with 2 TD and 1 INT. Ajayi struggled with only 59 yards on the ground averaging a less than stellar 3.7 yards per carry.
Pittsburgh has a balanced defense that ranks 13th against the pass and 16th against the run.
Big Ben and Bell rested in the last Game and each had great seasons. Roethlisberger passed for 3,819 yards with 29 TD and 13 INT and Bell not only ranked 5th in the NFL in rushing yards and also had 616 receiving yards. Bell and WR Antonio Brown, who ranked 5th in the league in receiving yards, will be a major handful for the Miami secondary, which is why it is key the pass rush pressures Big Ben in the pocket. Earlier this season in the win over Pittsburgh the Dolphins held Big Ben and Bell in check and can they do it again on the road?
Miami ranks a respectable 15th in the league in pass defense, but only 30th in run defense.
Miami is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Games on the road, 3-7 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, and in their last 6 Games the posted total has gone Over every time.
Pittsburgh is 1 ATS in their last 7 Games overall, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 playoff home Games, and in their last 20 Games the posted total has gone Under 14 times.
Our Pick – Neither of these teams comes into this Game appearing as though they are going to rip thru the playoffs. Certainly the Steelers, as hefty -10.5 point home favs, have looked better in the past.
The feeling here is that we’re getting some extra line value here as a result of the Miami QB situation. Typically, we don’y play underdogs to “stay within a number”. When we play a dog, we do so because we think they can win outright. However, in this spot, we’re going to break from form. The Steelers will likey prevail but the number seems a tad high.
We’re going against Our model here, which likes the Steelers by anywhere from 10 to 14 points depending on the parameters used. Dolphins +10.5