Miami Dolphins vs. Denver Broncos
Week 12 NFL Pick: Miami Dolphins +7 (November 23rd 2014)
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The Denver Broncos (7-3) are a mess right now. They are dealing with injuries to four of their best skill players on offense, leaving Peyton Manning short-handed. Montee Ball (groin) isn’t expected to return until early December, while Julius Thomas (ankle) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) are doubtful. Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is listed as questionable.
It’s no wonder the Broncos scored a season-low seven points in their 7-22 loss to the Rams last week. They lost Thomas to an ankle injury early in the game. Then, Sanders went out with a concussion later on. The Broncos’ offense stalled the rest of the way and could never mount a comeback. Peyton Manning just isn’t the same quarterback without all of these weapons.
Sanders is second on the team in receiving with 67 receptions for 954 yards and seven touchdowns. Thomas has 40 catches for 426 yards and a team-high 12 touchdowns, so Manning is going to be without his top two red zone targets. Hillman leads the team in rushing with 378 yards and three scores, while also catching 20 balls for 137 yards and a touchdown. This Denver offense is just rather pedestrian without these three guys.
I have been very impressed with Miami this season. It is every bit as good as its 6-4 record would indicate, and it has been playing its best football over the last five weeks. The Dolphins have gone 4-1 SU & 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall. In fact, they are 5-2 in their last seven games with their only two losses coming to Detroit (16-20) and Green Bay (24-27) by a combined seven points. Both the Lions and Packers are two of the best teams in the NFC this year, and they arguably should have beat both, losing on late scores in the closing seconds.
Miami ranks in the top half of the league in total offense at 348.4 yards per game this season under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. However, the defense is the biggest reason for the Dolphins’ success. They rank 2nd in the league in total defense, giving up just 302.5 yards per game. They are also 7th in yardage differential, outgaining teams by an average of 45.9 yards per contest. That is the sign of an elite team, and one that is fully capable of giving the short-handed Broncos a run for their money.
The Dolphins come into this game on an extra three days’ rest having played last Thursday in a dominant 22-9 home win over the Bills. That extra preparation will be huge for this team as they get ready for Manning and company. The Broncos could be looking ahead to their showdown with the Chiefs next week knowing that first place in the division will be on the line in that game. I just like the Dolphins’ physical and mental state better than that of the Broncos heading into this one.
Denver is 19-41 ATS in its last 60 vs. excellent passing teams with a completion percentage of 64% or better. Miami is 38-16 ATS in its last 54 vs. AFC west opponents. The Dolphins are 29-12 ATS in their last 41 road games vs. a team with a winning home record. The Broncos are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game. Miami is 6-1 ATS in its last seven meetings with Denver, including 4-0 ATS in the last four road meetings. Bet the Dolphins Sunday.
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