NFL Week 8 Preview & Picks: The Dolphins' Regression is Gonna Be a Helluva Thing

NFL Week 8 Preview & Picks: The Dolphins' Regression is Gonna Be a Helluva Thing

NFL

NFL Week 8 Preview & Picks: The Dolphins' Regression is Gonna Be a Helluva Thing

The Miami Dolphins are silencing the doubters again, jumping out to a 4-2 record while basically having no offense. Last year, they unexpectedly emerged as the final playoff team, going on a late run and finishing at 10-6. Does Adam Gase have some sort of secret sauce?

The Dolphins are 14-8 in the regular season since the start of last year. They have also been outscored by 37 points with Adam Gase at coach.

The Dolphins are 12-2 in games decided by 8 points or less.

The Dolphins are 2-6 in games decided by more than 8 points. 

Even crazier, the Dolphins lost the first two games last year in close fashion. They’ve won a ridiculous 12 games in a row when it has been close. And as last week showed, these aren’t just games where they were leading and gave up a late score. The Dolphins were trailing by two touchdowns in the 4th quarter.

Last week’s home win in dramatic comeback fashion over the mighty Jets prompted Jarvis Landry to utter “stop doubting us” (which has become a fundraising slogan).

Here’s a list of the first-time coaches who had the best record in close games in year 1 (minimum 6 close wins and 70% win percentage of close games) since 1990:

  • Jim Caldwell, 2009, 8-0;
  • Chuck Pagano (Bruce Arians), 2012: 9-1;
  • Adam Gase, 2016, 8-2;
  • Tony Sparano, 2008, 7-2;
  • Hue Jackson, 2011, 7-2;
  • Jim Harbaugh, 2011, 7-2;
  • Mike Smith, 2008, 6-2;
  • Jim Mora, 2004, 6-2;
  • Jon Gruden, 1998, 6-2;
  • Ray Rhodes, 1995, 6-2;
  • Ben McAdoo, 2016, 8-3;
  • Herm Edwards, 2001, 8-3.

That’s not a group, as a whole, that you would say were all great game managers. Some had success and others did not going forward. In year 2, they won 55% of close games, and thereafter with the same organization, 51% in close games.

Tony Sparano, for example, started 7-2 in close games, and then went 6-1 to start the next year, so that he was 13-3 in close games through almost two seasons in Miami. Then, the Dolphins lost the last 3 games to miss the playoffs  in year two, all close. He went 5-12 in close games for the rest of his time as a coach. The Dolphins had a similar record in non-close games throughout his tenure. All that changed was close game performance.

It would be gambler’s fallacy to say that Miami will start losing all their close games. But even if they just win half, which is the expectation going forward, that record will look a lot worse.

Last week: 6-7-1 ATS

Overall: 51-37-2 ATS

 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Miami (+3) at Baltimore.

The Ravens are 32nd in net yards per pass on offense. The Dolphins are 31st. Feel the excitement. We’ve had some great Thursday games recently, but this one looks like a slog (so expect an improbable 35-34 shootout). I’ll take the Ravens -3.

SUNDAY MORNING

Minnesota (-9.5) vs Cleveland in London

We’ve seen other coaches make the trip to London and get the pink slip on the flight home. Hue Jackson waited until Wednesday to name a QB starter, because that’s what has been working. REMINDER: The Browns have won 1 of the 23 games with Jackson has coached. They should really go back and recreate every meal from that week, because that’s all that’s worked. Vikings -9.5.

Oct 1, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson talks with quarterback DeShone Kizer (7) during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

SUNDAY 1 PM

Chicago (+9) at New Orleans

The Bears have won two straight games with no passing game because John Fox is a wizard. But, even he is going to have a hard time going agains the team that may be the hottest in the league. Saints -9.

Atlanta (-4.5) at NY JETS

What’s wrong with Atlanta? Obviously the offense has not been clicking, and it’s about time to think that they just don’t have it this year. That said, they should be better than last week in terms of turning yards into points, because it would be hard to be worse, with all the missed field goals and failed opportunities. Still, I’ll go Jets +4.5 because not sold on laying points with this team.

Carolina (+2) at TAMPA

Cam Newton needs to stop his media antics, it just keeps it going. The Panthers have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league over this stretch, but I’ll reluctantly lay the points with Panthers +2 given how bad the Bucs defense has played.

San Francisco (+12.5) at PHILADELPHIA

Remember when the 49ers were losing close games? They got crushed last week and now have a cross-country game at 1 pm against perhaps the best team in the league. I’m taking the points but not confidently, 49ers +12.5.

Oakland (+2.5) at Buffalo

The Raiders will be fine if they bring the same officiating crew. Bills -2.5.

Indianapolis (+10.5) at Cincinnati

The Colts are the worst team in football, and they’ve just happened to win close games against two other bad ones. I’m just wondering what it will take to fire Chuck Pagano. Bengals -10.5.

 

LA Chargers (+7) at New England

It’s a bye week for “look at the Chargers’ crowd” posts here. The Chargers have actually made a move after their slow start, and people are starting to believe. Chargers +7 as I violate the rule that you should stop believing in the Chargers just when they pull you back in.

 

SUNDAY at 4:05 PM/4:25 PM

Houston (+5.5) at Seattle

Three of the Seahawks wins are over the 49ers, Colts, and Giants. I know we trust them, but it’s on reputation at this point. Texans +5.5.

Dallas (-2) at Washington

THE COWBOYS ARE BACK! THEY BEAT THE 49ERS BY 30! Redskins +2.

SUNDAY NIGHT

Pittsburgh (-3) at Detroit

Remember when Matt Stafford shot to the top of the MVP list. Our Kyle Koster warned you. That said, the Lions are due for a close win in a game where people are writing them off, and they are coming off a bye. The concern is that Golden Tate is out, but I’m staying with the Lions +3.

MONDAY NIGHT

Denver (+7) at Kansas City

The Chiefs’ defense has become the very moveable object, while the Broncos got shutout last week and are quite the resistible force. I think the Chiefs win but don’t trust that defense with the points. Broncos +7.

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