Those who have been praying to the football gods for one more start from Joe Flacco, you’re getting your wish this weekend. Actually, I’m not sure anyone besides Flacco and his family were wishing for this.
Flacco will make what could be his final NFL start against a Dolphins defense that seems to be finding its groove. Miami made Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens offense look feeble in a shocking victory last Thursday night.
With Miami laying over a field goal on the road, is this too much of an overreaction? Let’s breakdown this AFC East showdown:
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- Opening line: Miami -3
- Current line: Miami -3.5
- Total: 45
Miami enters MetLife Stadium riding high
Despite a two-game winning streak, we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves when evaluating this Dolphins team. Miami is 27th in overall DVOA and have 2.7 estimated wins per FootballOutsiders. That means, despite losing three games by a field goal or less, Miami is still about where they should be, if not even a little lucky.
Offensively, Miami has a couple of pieces. I’m still a believer in Tagovailoa, and Jaylen Waddle has shown some flashes of brilliance despite an unsettled quarterback situation. But the primary reason Miami ranks 28th in offensive DVOA is its offensive line. Miami ranks 31st in adjusted line yards, 30th in power success rate, 31st in stuff rate and has given up 27 sacks on the season. When you wonder why Miami’s offense can’t get anything going, look no further than the trenches.
Defensively, Miami’s identity is to cause havoc up front by blitzing. The Dolphins blitz at the second-highest rate in the league, but it hasn’t worked as effectively as Flores is hoping. The Dolphins are middle of the pack in pressure rate (24.9%) and sacks (21), proving that exotic schemes only work with the right personnel. However, Flores’ group looks to be picking things up, as Miami has eight sacks in its last two games.
Against a porous Jets offensive line, Flores could have Flacco wishing he retired.
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Jets continue to reach new lows
Following an embarrassing blowout loss against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets surprised many Wednesday. Coach Robert Saleh announced that it won’t be Zach Wilson or even backup Mike White under center against Miami. Instead, it’ll be the 14-year veteran and Super Bowl champion.
The reason? Flacco has more experience against exotic blitz packages…
BREAKING: In a surprise, the Jets are planning to start Joe Flacco vs Miami, source tells ESPN. Zach Wilson still not 100%. Flacco’s experience likely a big factor in the decision, facing blitz-heavy D. #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) November 17, 2021
But here’s a fun fact: Flacco actually started in week 6 last season against Miami, and the results were terrible. The Jets lost 24-0, and Flacco completed 21-of-44 passes for 186 yards and an interception.
The results might not be much different Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Unless Flacco suddenly found some elusiveness, he’s still a statue in the pocket, and New York’s offensive line has given up 25 sacks on the season.
You might think it’s New York’s offense that ranks dead-last in the league in DVOA but you’d be mistaken; it’s actually the defense. Robert Saleh’s group is a train wreck, ranking 32nd in DVOA against the pass and 31st against the run. New York doesn’t generate nearly enough pressure to mask its horrendous secondary. The Jets probably need new starters across the entire back four. It’s that bad.
New York will have to find their running game early if they want any shot of winning Sunday. That’ll be a tough task however for an offensive line that ranks 28th in line yards.
I truly want no part of betting this game from a spread perspective. I found it interesting that the line only moved a tad once Flacco was officially named the starter. That’s how much respect the betting markets have for Mike White and Zach Wilson.
However, I’m not getting enough points to back Flacco and this Jets defense, even at home. While I believe in Tagovailoa, I don’t trust Miami’s offensive line and coaching staff, even against a subpar defense.
All that being said, I feel much more comfortable betting the under. I don’t see how the Jets get points on the board with Flacco under center against a red-hot Dolphins defense. But I don’t see Miami lighting up the scoreboard either. This feels like a game you’ll pay very little attention too. And sometimes that’s not the worst thing when you’re betting an under.
The pick: Under 45, play down to 43
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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.