The first week of the new NFL season concludes with a Monday night doubleheader, but we’ll look at the opener between New England and Miami in an AFC East battle. Well, battle might be the wrong word because this looks to be one of the mismatches of Week 1. The Pats remain the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl on Bodog at 11/2. Miami, on the other hand, is 60/1.
Patriots at Dolphins Betting Storylines
Miami finished 7-9 and third in the AFC East last year, but what really irked Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was that 1-7 home mark and the fact fans stopped showing up. It has carried over to this season as ticket sales are way down and there could be several home blackouts in 2010. Look for this to be Coach Tony Sparano’s last season barring a playoff spot.
Most of the Fins’ fans direct their anger at QB Chad Henne—during a preseason game the fans chanted how they wanted Kyle Orton. And Miami and Denver were close to a trade for Orton but the teams couldn’t consummate it. So now, it’s Henne or bust, essentially (former Panther Matt Moore is currently No. 2).
Henne did have a very good preseason with a 93.4 quarterback rating. And Miami will be a bit more aggressive in playcalling this year, plus offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has said Henne can change plays when needed. So Henne is saying all the right things about confidence, etc.
Miami’s biggest offensive addition was Reggie Bush, while letting both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams go. And it appears Bush will be the every-down back, at least at the start, because 2011 second-round pick Daniel Thomas hasn’t been overly impressive as of yet.
But if Miami is expecting Bush to handle a full load, they're kidding themselves. Bush has been able to play a full 16-game season only once in his five NFL years—that being in his rookie season of 2006. He played only eight games last season because of injury.
Meanwhile, the Patriots have no offensive problems as long as Tom Brady, the reigning unanimous NFL MVP, is under center. Brady led the Pats to a league-leading 14 wins last season, as the offense led the league by averaging 32.4 points per game.However, the Pats flamed out in their first playoff game for the second year in a row.
Brady will have a new weapon to work with in wideout Chad Ochocinco. The defense should be better with the addition of an apparently motivated Albert Haynesworth (among a few other defensive linemen) and the return to health of cornerback Leigh Bodden.
New England easily covered both games vs. Miami last year, winning 41-14 in Miami in Week 4 and 38-7 in the regular-season finale in Foxborough. You may remember that Week 4 Monday night game well.
Pats safety Patrick Chung blocked a field goal, a punt and returned an interception for a touchdown, one of two New England special teams scores. The Miami special teams coach was fired the next day. Last season was New England’s first series sweep in the rivalry since 2007.
Brady was 29-for-40 for 352 yards, three TDs and no picks in the two games (he didn’t play a lot in the season finale). Brady enters 2011 with an NFL record of 335 consecutive regular-season pass attempts without an interception. Henne, meanwhile, was 34-for-54 for 376 yards with two touchdowns and four INTs.
Patriots at Dolphins Odds and Betting Trends
The Pats are currently seven-point favorites with the total at 45.5, according to NFL odds. The lean is more than three-quarters to New England.
The Pats were 6-2 on the road last year (6-2 ATS). Miami was a ridiculous 1-7 at home (2-6 ATS).
New England is 2-5 in its past seven September games. Miami is 11-3 ATS in its past 14 as a dog. The ‘over’ is 13-3 in New England’s past 16 as a favorite. It is 5-1 in Miami’s past six as a home dog.
The road team has covered in six of the past eight in this series.
Free Monday Night Football Picks Patriots at Dolphins Betting Predictions
All-time, the Pats are 3-3 against Miami in season-openers (0-2 in Miami). New England has won seven of the past 10 meetings overall. The Pats have had trouble in South Florida in the past, going 13-33 in their history. Brady has lost only 11 career regular-season games vs. AFC East foes and six have come to Miami. He is 10-4 on MNF in his career.
I’m really trying to think of a reason to pick Miami here, but just can’t. I would jump on the line while it’s at seven just in case because all of the Pats action may see that rise. I also like the ‘under’ because I’m not sure Miami can score more than 14 points and I see New England right around 31.
Doc’s Sports football picks has their season-opening NFL picks for week one available now. Click here for more information.