A mediocre Sunday won’t keep us down as the opportunity to break even for Week 10 is upon us for Monday Night Football. Yesterday, the Bears really let us down with a brutal showing. John Fox is one of the game’s worst coaches, and that defense didn’t look all that great against Brett Hundley. In other action, the Redskins also dropped the ball at home. The Vikings put a real licking on them and they look to be the current class of the NFC at the moment.
For tonight’s contest, we will focus on two squads trending in opposite directions. Though the Dolphins have managed to stay afloat with a 4-4 record, you can’t really consider them a playoff threat in the AFC. Meanwhile, for the hosts tonight – Carolina, they’ve been red-hot following Cam Newton’s slow start. They sit at 6-3, and are eager to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints in the hotly contested NFC South division. This game should be very intriguing to follow, as the Panthers’ offense without Kelvin Benjamin still possesses a ton of question marks. Are they strong enough through the air to keep pace in the NFC South? Read on below for those answers – plus more, as we end off Week 10 on a high note with an official betting prediction for Monday Night Football.
Dolphins vs. Panthers Pick:
Miami Dolphins +9 (-105)
@ Carolina Panthers -9 (-115)
Over 39 (-110)
Under 39 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Dolphins vs. Panthers Pick:
I am still heavily skeptical about Carolina’s attack without Kelvin Benjamin in the fold. The lack of a vertical threat was apparent in last week’s first half against Atlanta, and it remains to be seen what the passing game will truly look like for the Panthers. Instead, they relied heavily on young rookie Christian McCaffrey – who has been surprisingly slow to start out his NFL career. That strategy likely won’t work all that well against Miami, as the Dolphins actually stop the run game very well. Only two squads have gained more than 100 yards against them all season long, and in another primetime spot – look for the Dolphins’ stout defense to show up once again.
With no running game, Newton will need to move the chains through the air – but can he? Without legitimate passing threats, there’s a reason to be very cynical about their aerial attack. Miami doesn’t have a very strong secondary, but they get covered up exceptionally by an elite defensive front. Expect the Dolphins’ defensive line to just have their way with Carolina at the line of scrimmage, and be able to apply all kinds of pressure on Cam Newton. He won’t get the time and space he needs to adequately pick apart the Dolphins secondary.
On the other side of the football, Jay Cutler looked interested and engaged last week against the Raiders. They can’t stop the pass though – but it’s alright because neither can Carolina’s secondary. All that being said though – Cutler will need time and space, and with his offensive line a little banged up, that has to be a concern.
Look for the Dolphins to try hard early to set up and establish an effective running game to take pressure off of Cutler and his downfield attempts. After trading Jay Ajayi, both Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams looked good sharing the load vs. Oakland, and that duo will need to be solid once again vs. a staunch run defense from the Panthers.
Really, I can’t see either team being able to do all that much on Monday night. I’d expect a dull and low-scoring match where both coaches try way too hard to establish the run game – to no avail. Through the air, both squads likely won’t get the protection required to move the chains with regularity, and as a result look for Miami to keep things tight. They did some good things last week of Sunday Night Football, and that should translate to taking on the Panthers in yet another primetime slot. At 4-4, they still have a ton to play for in the AFC playoff race, and frankly this spread is just way too high for a team with such prominent offensive issues as Carolina possesses. If Cutler gets decent protection, the Dolphins will be very competitive in this one.
PICK = Dolphins +9 (-105)