Dolphins at Ravens: Game preview, odds, prediction
Preview, prediction and odds for the Miami Dolphins game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 13.
The 6-5 Baltimore Ravens still hold the lead in the AFC North, but it’s a slender one. They are only in front by virtue of beating rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers.
There are still problems on both sides of the ball, problems the 7-4 Miami Dolphins can exploit this week. Yet the Ravens are tabbed as narrow favorites at home, according to Odds Shark.
Line: BAL (-3)
Miami can defy the odds by teeing off on Ravens quarterback Jose Flacco. The Dolphins don’t have to worry about stopping the run against Baltimore’s 28th ranked rushing attack.
Baltimore’s problems establishing the run will let the Dolphins’ suspect run defense off the hook. The Dolphins are 30th against the run, but they are loaded with dominant pass-rushers.
Few teams in the NFL boast a one-two pressure punch as disruptive as D-tackle Ndamukong Suh and end Cameron Wake. The destructive duo has combined for 13.5 sacks and have been collapsing the pocket for fun in recent weeks.
Suh and Wake need to get to Flacco to prevent the Ravens pushing the ball deep through the air. Flacco’s chief threat in the passing game is a receiver familiar to the Dolphins.
Veteran Mike Wallace was a high-priced free agency flop in Miami. But the 30-year-old has regained his swagger in Baltimore.
Wallace is averaging 15.5 yards per reception. Yet he’s been more than a vertical weapon this season.
Wallace has made eight grabs for 138 yards on 3rd-and-6 or less, according to ESPN. He’s Flacco’s clutch target on football’s money down, the player the Dolphins must account for.
Wallace has already stoked the fires before the game. He’s shown little remorse for his failures on the field during his days with the Dolphins, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald:
Wallace on the Dolphins: "They gave me a lot of money in two years. I have no regrets. … I'm living a lot better because of those guys."
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) November 30, 2016
Expect Wallace to draw a crowd of defensive backs all too eager to dirty his jersey.
However, the real battle to watch will be the tussle in the trenches. The Ravens’ D-line is formidable, while Miami’s offensive front can dominate.
There are a host of stars among the contingent of road graders set to be in action. Tackles Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams are a nightmare for any offense. But expect little fear from a Dolphins front five usually boasting rookie Laremy Tunsil, center Mike Pouncey and left tackle Branden Albert.
Tunsil and Albert were both back in practice after missing last week’s win over the San Francisco 49ers, per Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The Dolphins need both suited up this Sunday to handle edge pressure.
Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are wrecking games off the edges. They’ll make life uncomfortable for Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill if the Dolphins are depleted up front.
But Perkins noted Pouncey remains a doubt. He’ll be a big miss against Williams and Jernigan inside.
These teams are almost mirror images of one another, especially defensively. Both units are loaded up front and can bring pressure in a variety of ways.
The Ravens defense should hold sway at home, even if the Dolphins are at full strength in the trenches.
Pick: Ravens 23, Dolphins 14