Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Odds - Free Pick
Miami was blown out 35-14 by New England last Sunday. It was only their 2nd loss in their past 11 games. Pittsburgh rested several starters in a 27-24 OT win over Cleveland last week. It was their 7th-straight win. The Dolphins handled the Steelers 30-15 in Week 6 behind 204 yards rushing by RB Jay Ajayi.
Miami is expected to go with QB Matt Moore again as QB Ryan Tannehill is expected to miss this game due to a knee ligament sprain. Moore is 3-1 as a starter and has a respectable 8-3 TD/INT ratio. WR Jarvis Landry had another good campaign as he racked up 94 receptions for 1,136 yards, the team leader in both of those categories. WR DeVante Parker finished 2nd with 56 catches and 744 yards but FA WR Kenny Stills led the team with 9 TD catches, more than double the next highest receiver. Those 3 players accounted for 61% of the team’s receptions as they don’t use their TEs and RBs that much. The Steelers’ secondary has been vulnerable all year and they need a good pass rush to take the pressure off. Pittsburgh racked up 38 sacks on the year but no one had more than the 5 sacks 38-year-old OLB James Harrison produced. Moore, while a backup is a veteran and I don’t think he will get spooked by any of the different blitz packages he is likely to see in this game. Miami surrendered 30 sacks on the year as their pass protection has greatly improved over the past 2 seasons. To take the pressure off of Moore, look for Ajayi to get 20+ carries in this contest. He ran for 624 yards in 3 games in 2016 (all 200+ yards) but only 648 yards in the other 12 games he played in. That’s an alarming lack of consistency and the Dolphins will hope he can repeat his week 6 performance. The Steelers allowed 122 and 231 rushing yards in their last 2 games but allowed an average of only 100 ypg. They did yield 4.3 ypc and you can bet their defensive game plan will be geared towards stopping Ajayi.
For the first time in their respective careers, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown and C Maurkice Pouncey will start a playoff game together. All 4 have been Pro Bowlers and they relish the chance to compete in a playoff game together. While not as publicized as much as Ajayi, Bell had the same amount of carries, 4 fewer yards and 1 less TD on the year. The big difference? Bell had 48 more receptions and is one of the top dual threat backs in the league. Despite his efforts, the Steelers ran for only 110 ypg but I expect them to try to improve on that this week. The Dolphins gave up 4.8 ypc and 140 ypg on the ground in 2016 and this offense can make them pay if OC Todd Haley sticks with the run. That isn’t likely as Haley loves the passing game. Brown led the team in receptions, yardage and TDs (by a wide margin in all 3) but was held in check in the first matchup (4 catches, 39 yards). Miami double teamed him for most of the game and I expect that trend to continue this week. WR Eli Rogers emerged as the No.2 wideout later in the year and is productive. TE Jesse James gives Big Ben a big target downfield and WR Sammie Coates in capable of a big play anytime in the game. Bell is the No.2 target in the passing game and a player the defense has to account for on passing downs.
Public Money Consensus
In this NFL playoff game between Miami and Pittsburgh have the public split on the game with just 51% taking Miami getting the 10 points. The over/under bettors are thinking that this game will go over the posted total line of 47 at over 60%.
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction
Pittsburgh’s last 4 games have produced 47, 44, 58 and 51 points. While they can be explosive on offense, their defense can be beaten by good offenses. Miami’s last 6 games have produced an average of 50.5 ppg as their offense has continued to produce in the absence of Tannehill but their defense has also been susceptible to giving up their share of points. While I think the spread (10 points) may be a bit high, I think the Over is the way to go. Both teams have offensive weapons that can exploit their opponent’s defensive weaknesses and I expect a high-scoring affair at Heinz Filed this weekend.
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