CAROLINA (-3) 21 Miami 18
Carolina has turned their season around after starting 0-3, winning 4 of 6 games since their week 4 bye week. The Panthers are a good team from the line of scrimmage, as I rate their offense at 0.2 yards per play better than average now that quarterback Jake Delhomme is starting to play closer to his normal level, and the defense has been good all season and rates at 0.3 yppl better than average (5.4 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.7 yppl against an average defensive team).
Jake Delhomme hasn't thrown an interception in 3 weeks after tossing 13 picks the first 6 games, and the Panthers are tough to beat when they're not beating themselves.
Miami will be without top rusher Ronnie Brown the rest of the season, but Ricky Williams has averaged 5.3 ypr (Brown was averaging 4.4 ypr) and I'm sure the Dolphins will come up with some a Wildcat package for mobile rookie Pat White to run and that could involve more passing out of that successful formation.
It could actually benefit the Dolphins this first game without Brown since Carolina doesn't really know what to expect with White running the Wildcat. Even with the good rushing attack (4.8 ypr against teams that would allow 4.6 ypr to an average team) the Dolphins are 0.3 yppl worse than average offensively (5.4 yppl against teams that would allow 5.7 yppl to an average attack) due to the safe throws that Chad Henne generally makes and Henne only has 4 interceptions on 189 pass attempts - so the Dolphins are about average offensively when you factor in their low interception rate.
The problem with Miami is their pass defense, which has given up 7.1 yards per pass play this season (to quarterbacks that would average 6.5 yppp against an average team), but the Dolphins defend the run well (3.7 ypr allowed to teams that would average 4.4 ypr) and are actually just 0.1 yppl worse than average defensively overall. Jake Delhomme will have to produce another good game with the rushing attack likely to be slowed a bit.
My math model projects Carolina with a 339 yards at 5.5 yppl to 277 yards at 4.5 yppl advantage for the Panthers in this game but their special teams have been horrible this season and that field position is worth a couple of points.
My math model favors Carolina by 2 1/2 points but Miami applies to a negative 29-64-4 ATS situation. However, I still wouldn't lay 3 1/2 points, so I'll call for a 3 point win and suggest waiting until the weekend to make a wager on a game.
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