Opening Line: Steelers -10
Time: 1:05 PM EST Sunday January 8, 2016 on CBS
Miami Dolphins (10-6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
The Dolphins head to Pittsburgh for an AFC Wild Card game and they are a double digit underdog even though they beat the Steelers in Miami this season. QB Ryan Tannehill has been out for three games with a knee injury and he may be able to go in this game. Backup Matt Moore has been solid in his absence with eight TD and three INT in leading Miami to a 2-1 record. One of the main reasons the Dolphins are in the playoffs is RB Jay Ajayi and while he struggled in against the Patriots in the season finale he torched the Steelers for 204 rushing yards in the win against them in the regular season.
The Steelers beat the Browns in OT in their last game and while that game had no bearing on the playoff standings they rested key players including QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le’Veon Bell. This season Pittsburgh has a balanced team that ranks 5th in the league in points per game and 20th in opponents’ points per game. Pittsburgh enters the playoffs red-hot, as they have won seven in a row.
In their last games the Dolphins lost to the New England Patriots 35-14 and the Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 27-24 in OT.
On the season the Dolphins are 9-7 ATS with an O/U record of 12-4 and the Steelers are 9-6-1 ATS with an O/U record of 6-10.
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In their loss to the Patriots in the last game of the season the Dolphins only had 280 total yards and they gave up 396 yards. Moore passed for 205 yards with two TD and one INT in the game and Ajayi only rushed for 59 yards averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Overall, the Dolphins only rushed for 75 yards and they will have to run the ball well in this game to have any chance to win.
The Steelers rank 16th in the league in pass defense and 13th in run defense. In their win over the Browns in the season finale the Steelers did give up 231 rushing yards, but they did rest some players on the defensive side of the ball.
Roethlisberger (3,819 yards 29 TD) had another solid season and he led the Steelers and their 5th ranked passing offense. He has a solid WR corps led by Antonio Brown, who had the 5th most receiving yards in the league this season. RB Le’Veon Bell is getting some MVP buzz, as he ranks 5th in the league in rushing yards and has 616 receiving yards. These stats are even more impressive, as he missed the first three games of the season due to suspension and was inactive for the last game facing the Browns to rest.
Miami has to play defense like they did in the 30-15 win over the Steelers earlier this season. In that game they held Big Ben to 189 yards with one TD and two INT and held Bell in check, as he only had 53 rushing yards. Overall, the Dolphins’ defense ranks 15th in the league against the pass and 30th against the run, which is a major concern facing Bell.
Miami at Pittsburgh Betting Trends
- The Dolphins are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games, 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall, and in their last 6 games the total has gone Over every time.
- The Steelers are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall, 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 home games, and in their last 20 games the Under record is 14-6.
- The Dolphins are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against the Steelers.
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction
The Steelers have put together a seven game winning streak, but didn’t actually overpower their competition winning their last four by fewer than this game’s point spread. The Steelers defense wasn’t at its best over those four contests allowing 20 or more points in all four games. The last time these two played Miami put up 30 points ripping the Pittsburgh run defense for 222 yards! I don’t see the Fish duplicating that number, but I expect them to get over 100 yards which leads us to an interesting statistic. The Steelers have allowed five opponents to rush for over 100 yards scoring a combined 150 points (30 points per game). We know that Pitt can score with 24 or more points per game over their last eight games and it would be a reach to think that they wouldn’t match or exceed those numbers against a Miami defense that has allowed three of their last five opponents to score over 30 points.
Take the OVER 46
Special thanks to Rich Crew and the gang at SportsBettingStats for their statistical analysis with suggested bet on this Wildcard game.