Although both teams come into this matchup with identical 7-7 records, they are in very different playoff situations. According to Football Outsiders, the Dolphins have less than a 8% chance of making the playoffs, whereas the Saints have a 49% chance. Much of this disparity between the teams has to do with the Dolphins record being propped up by the 32nd ranked strength of schedule through 14 games.
Ryan’s Season Totals
Assigned Games: 22-16-1
Best Bets: 27-16, Up 1358%
- Opening Line: New Orleans +1.5
- Current Line: New Orleans -3
- Over/Under: 37.5
- Location: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
- Start Time: 8:15 PM EST, SUN 12/27
- Last Meeting: Saints, 20, Dolphins 0 at Miami in 2017
The Dolphins come in ranked 25th in DVOA, and may be one of the most overrated teams in the NFL (at least relative to their record). As mentioned earlier, despite being on a winning streak of late, it’s been at the hands of the Texans, Ravens, Jets and Panthers. All teams with bottom half of NFL offenses, which have propped up a defensive run that’s allowed 9, 10, 17 and 10 points in the last four weeks.
The Saints come in as the 12th ranked team, despite a high variance number (28th in NFL), after their absolute masterclass in defense, shutting out the Bucs last week. The win alone vaunted their playoff odds by more than 30 percentage points, and have the i Saints in the discussion for one of the wildcard spots. However, their offense will need to pick it up, as they have one of the largest discrepancies between the two DVOA ranks, with defense coming in at 4th, but offense at 21st.
- New Orleans is 5-2 against the spread (ATS) in its last seven games against Miami.
- The total has hit the over in four of Miami’s last six games against New Orleans.
- The total has hit the under in four of New Orleans’ last five games.
There are a couple variables that our model has picked out for this game, all leaning towards the Saints. For starters, they should have a strong home field advantage, with Adrian Hill calling 4% less penalties for the home team than league average. Secondly, and more importantly, given how much Tua and the Dolphins lean on the RPO game (#1 rate in the NFL). There is a significant matchup advantage that plays to the Saints favor: The Saints run a ton of man on defense (#3 most in the NFL), and Tua has had a lot of trouble vs Man this season. Versus zone, Tua produces .192 EPA/play with a 52% success rate. Versus man, it drops to .053 EPA/play and 44% success rate. Combined, not to mention just being a better team, we are heavily in favor of playing the Saints straight-up.
UPDATE: At the moment of this writing it’s starting to look like the Saints may have multiple starters on the COVID list. If this is the case, it’s probably best to stay away from this game. At least wait to see how far the line moves in the Dolphins direction.
*Wait until hopefully this line moves to +3, then take the Saints in the First Quarter (before they have time to adapt to Ian Book).
Prediction: Saints 19, Dolphins 14