The Miami Dolphins stink. I don’t think I’m making a shocking revelation with that statement. The Baltimore Ravens blasted the Dolphins last week, and while the Ravens are a quality team, a 59-10 victory offers a statement of just how bad the Dolphins appear to be.
And now, Miami is hosting the New England Patriots in Week 2 as a 19-point underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook. The line opened at Patriots -14.5, and it has quickly shot up. It has yet to reach 20 points at any sportsbook, but the public is still all about the Patriots.
DraftKings released their mid-week splits, breaking down who is betting on each team this week. 63 percent of tickets bet and 65 percent of money bet has been on the Patriots to cover. We still have half the week left, and Patriots wagering shows no signs of slowing down.
It’s not surprising people are backing the Patriots. Their performance on Sunday in crushing the Pittsburgh Steelers helps, but it has to be coupled with how bad Miami is. The Dolphins appear to be tanking, with reports that players want out knowing this to be the case. Whether it results in a successful rebuilding process remains to be seen, but for our purposes that doesn’t matter.
The question is at what point does one bet on the Dolphins. When a team is laying double digit points, it generally should give one pause before wagering. Regardless of how good or bad a team is, double digits in the point spread is ridiculous. Analytics generally say to avoid that kind of line if you’re not prepared to bet on the underdog.
The Patriots have been at least a two touchdown favorite 24 times dating back to 2007. They’ve never lost such a game, but they are “just” 14-10 against the spread. If we bump the point spread to 17 points or higher, they are 3-5 ATS. If we lower it to all double digit games, which dates back to 2011, they’re 27-3 straight up and 17-13 ATS.
Past performance is not indicative of future returns, but it says something about the relative difficulty of blowing out bad teams. Divisional games offer a little something different that can make things difficult for the favorite. Over the past 30 games in their rivalry, the Patriots are 21-9 SU and 17-12-1 ATS when favored against the Dolphins.
All of this is to say, at what point would you be prepared to bet on the Dolphins? General chatter seems to be at 21 points. Three full touchdowns makes a certain amount of sense in this rivalry, but I don’t think anybody would be shocked to see the Patriots crush Miami. The last time these two met was in Miami and saw the Dolphins win on the last play of the game — featuring a double lateral and Kenyan Drake somehow evading most of the Patriots defense. The primary narrative of this game is how bad the Dolphins are, but there is a sprinkling of the revenge narrative for the Patriots.
Realistically, this is a game to stay away from for spread purposes. If you’re in a Survivor pool, the Patriots are going to be a popular pick. Any team can lose any game on any Sunday, but it would be one of the most shocking upsets in recent memory if the Dolphins. It’s a safe Survivor pick, but I just don’t see how you can bet the spread in this one for either team. It’s too high for one team, and not high enough for the other.