The Miami Dolphins (10-6) travel to Pittsburgh for a Wild Card Round clash with the Steelers (11-5). The Dolphins weren’t able to catch the New England Patriots in the AFC East, something the rest of the division has been trying to do for over a decade. The Matt Cassel year not withstanding. However, they did make the postseason for the first time since 2008. That in itself is a win for the Dolphins, who really needed to get there after backing a Brinks truck up for defensive lineman, Ndamukong Suh. The Dolphins lured Suh away from the Lions with $114 million dollars.
If they didn’t get anything out of that money, you would have been hearing it from Dolphins’ fan. Suh played well this season with a career-high in combined tackles, 72, besting his previous best from his rookie year, 66. He had 5 sacks this season, but teams figured out that he has to be double teamed a long time ago. This certainly frees up linebackers to make tackles, which is something you won’t find in his stat column.
The Dolphins employed a bend but don’t break kind of defense. They gave up an average of 382.6 yards per game, 29th in the NFL, but allowed 23.8 points per game, 15th. It’s all about points in the end, but you are playing with fire giving up that many yards. Notably, on the road playing against a fully capable offense, this could come back to have dire consequences. The Steelers are winners of seven games in a row, and are coming into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in football. There were some major doubts about this team earlier in the season, but I still held that this is the second best team in the AFC. It’s the Steelers and Patriots in this conference, but that’s why they play the games. Let’s get to the pick, and try and nail down a winner in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs.
Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Wild Card Round Betting Odds:
vs. Steelers -10(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Dolphins vs. Steelers Pick:
Following four losses in a row, the last coming against the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers steamrolled opposing teams for eight wins straight. They averaged 26.4 points per game during the winning streak, but it was the defense in particular that really stepped the intensity up. The Steelers allowed an average of 17.28 points per game. Overall they surrendered 342.6 yards per game and 20.4 points a game. Most of their strong outings on defense coming down the stretch, leading into the playoffs.
If you recall, Ben Roethlisberger battled through injuries early in the season and he had to sit down for a few weeks. His injury set the four-game losing streak in motion. But with a healthy Roethlisberger, and defense playing the way they are, nobody can discount them as favorites to go to the Super Bowl.
Big Ben passed for 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, not monster numbers, but here’s a guy who can flip a switch and toss 5 touchdowns in a game. The Steelers are hoping that the switch turns on all the way to the Super Bowl in Houston. The Dolphins are not ruling Ryan Tannehill out in this game, but it appears that Matt Moore is going to get another start. I’ve always liked Moore, as one of the better backups in the NFL. I really don’t see him handling the Steelers well on the road, though.
He’s been fantastic with 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, but I just have pictures in my head of him turning the ball over at the most inopportune times. The Dolphins are 17th in the league offensively, averaging 22.7 points per game. That seems about what they’ll score in this game, 20 points. The Steelers, in my opinion, are looking at 33 or 34. Yeah, the points with Miami look attractive, but I could see the Dolphins frustrating a lot of sports bettors by grabbing all of those points. I’m laying the points with the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Look out for Roethlisberger.
PICK: STEELERS -10 (-110)