Dolphins (aqua)GreenZone Thursday Night Football
[6.6 Units] Miami Dolphins (+7.5) at Houston Texans
6.6 Units – MIA +6 or more
3.3 Units – MIA +3.5 to +5.5
No Action – MIA +3 or less
This is a big time spread for two teams we have as evenly matched based on their season-to-date performance in 2018. Our models have this as a 2 to 3-point game in favor of the Texans, which means anything +6 or greater for the Dolphins is in our 3-point delta threshold for the GreenZone. The short travel week is one factor more public bettors than should be are piling in on the Texans, but the perceived impact of injuries for the Dolphins could also be a primary reason this line is off.
The Dolphins are entering their 3rd consecutive week with back-up Brock Osweiler starting in place of injured Tannehill. This game has a little added zip due to The Brocket Ship's history with the Texans that has left both sides with less than positive things to say about each other. Back-up QBs are typically the most impactful position on a team's true value i.e. a QB can shift a line anywhere from 3 to 7-points which is much more than any other single position. However, it is very important to consider the talent differential between the two QBs. Aaron Rodgers not playing and Deshone Kizer starting in his place is probably worth at least 7-points, but that is very different than the difference in ability between Osweiler and Tannehill. Pro Football Focus has Osweiler as the 24th best performing QB this year...not great, but where is Tannehill...35th! The same can be said when looking at Football Outsiders QB metrics with Osweiler ranking higher than Tannehill. We aren't stating this to make the argument that Brock is an elite level starter, we are simply saying the drop-off in expected performance for the Dolphins offensive is non-existent and therefore it's not really a line-shifting caveat at all.
The second area of concern the public is focusing on is the injuries at WR for the Dolphins. They will be without Albert Wilson (IR) and Kenny Stills this week, but they still have more than enough skill guys to effectively move the ball. The Texans, on the other hand, have already ruled out 7 players, including a starting WR, CB, TE, and offensive guard. The loss of CB (Colvin) bumps Johnson Bademosi into the starting lineup. Bademosi is a career special teamer and will be targeted a TON tonight. The previous situations when he's been thrust into the line-up as an emergency replacement on defense have not gone well.
More important than injuries for this one is the match-up of the Miami Dolphins defense against this Houston Texans offensive line. Even before losing starting guard, Fulton, this Texans o-line is 31st in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders....not good. Miami's defense has come back to earth a little bit after a very hot start, but we still see them as about league average and more than capable of exploiting the deficiencies in the Texan's front.
This should be a much more cleanly played game than the disaster by the Cardinals last Thursday Night, and as we said in the opening, we predict a 2 to 3-point victory for the home team Texans. That is more than enough value for us to back the 'Phins and hope Mr. Broctober himself has one more strong start left in him against his former team during his namesake month.