The line on Sunday’s Patriots-Dolphins game was at 18.5 points around here on Thursday afternoon, and it still doesn’t feel like enough.
Miami has done just about everything except throw up a white flag or sign Ish Smith to let the world -- and more discouragingly its locker room -- know that only two dates matter anymore. Day 1 of the 2020 NFL draft and Day 1 of the 2021 draft.
After a series of trades for picks, the Dolphins went out and lost to the Ravens last week, 59-10. New England dominated Pittsburgh, 33-3. Inquirer handicapper Vegas Vic spotted 19- to 19.5-point lines in Sin City for Sunday’s game. We’ll probably see it get into the 20s.
More than a dozen NFL games have gone off with spreads higher than 18.5, but only one where the favorite was on the road. The Falcons, in 1987, had a team full of roster replacement players when it faced the 49ers in Week 5. Joe Montana, Roger Craig, and Dwight Clark were among the San Fran scabs who crossed the picket line and decided to play.
The Vegas houses that booked the replacement games made the 49ers 23-point favorites. Montana started, came out when the Niners built a 13-point lead, went back in when Atlanta made it close, and walked off with an eight-point win. Less than 9,000 fans showed up. It was bizarre, but San Fran was never close to covering that big number.
“I’m sure it could have been a much higher score," wide receiver Clark said that day. “But I don’t think that’s what [head coach Bill Walsh] had in mind.”
Since 1978, the underdog is 9-2 against the spread when the line is 20 points or more.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, there have been 11 point spreads of 20 or more since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Nine of the underdogs covered. We haven’t seen a 20-point spread since the Broncos laid 26.5 to Jacksonville in 2013. Denver won the game, 35-19 but did not cover.
It’s widely held that the largest line was the 27 Pittsburgh laid to visiting Tampa Bay in 1976. They crushed the winless Bucs, 42-0.
Which brings us to this week. While it’s hard to imagine Bill Belichick and the Patriots running it up on former defensive assistant and current Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, covering three touchdowns doesn’t necessarily require Tom Brady to throw bombs deep into the fourth quarter. Look at how they ground down the Steelers last week.
This is a revenge game for New England, which lost to the Dolphins in Week 14 on a fluke kickoff return touchdown at the finish. It helped cost the Patriots home-field advantage for the playoffs. Brady has lost five of his last six starts in Miami, but the Patriots’ side will see heavy betting action like they always do, especially in New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Hard to pick against New England, which is exactly what the bookies are expecting.
“Every bet is Patriots,” William Hill sportsbook’s Nick Bogdanovich told Covers.com. “Going to be a monster decision for Week 2.”
P.S. Brady is 0-5 ATS when favored by more than 18.
The Eagles are 7-4-1 in Carson Wentz’s starts on the road since 2017. Over also has hit seven times. ... PropsBet in New Jersey is offering 3-1 that Wentz will throw for 300-plus yards and the Eagles will win. ... This will be the fourth time Doug Pederson goes against Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, but the first time in Atlanta. The Eagles covered the previous three meetings, which all came out under.