Originally posted on The Pass Rush  |  Last updated 9/26/12


MIAMI DOLPHINS @ ARIZONA CARDINALS (-6.5)

The one downside to this pick is the Cardinals don’t necessarily have an offensive juggernaut and won’t light up the scoreboard against a solid Miami defense, but I’m banking on the Cardinals defense dominating the the Dolphins. The Cardinals defense is for real. I’m not overreacting their wins over the Patriots and Eagles either. I’m an Eagles fan and witnessed the Eagles debacle first-hand last week.

The Cardinals beat Vick’s ass and they did the same thing to Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. I don’t think Vick had a single snap where he had more than 3 seconds to get the football out of his hands. If Vick held onto the football for 4 seconds, he was either scrambling for minimal yardage, throwing an errant pass, getting sacked, or fumbling the football. I’m not going to put the blame on the Eagles offensive line either, the Cardinals defensive front four simply outplayed the Eagles front four.

If the Cardinals bring the same pressure they brought in the first three weeks, they’re going to dominate this game. The Cardinals managed to make Tom Brady befuddled. Imagine what they’re going to do when facing rookie Ryan Tannehill. It’s no surprise that the Cardinals defense rank 2nd in sacks behind the Chicago Bears. The Cardinals have 12 sacks so far. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, DE Darnell Docket is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. Tannehill has struggled this year as his average QB rating is 58.3. Last week against the Jets, he completed just 44% of his passes and threw an INT. That’s now 1 TD and 4 INTs for Tannehill. In week 1, the Texans picked him off thrice. His yard-per-attempt is an awful 6.0 which ranks 29th in the NFL.

Miami’s offense runs through Reggie Bush. If Bush runs the ball well, the Dolphins can compete. When Bush is out, the Dolphins struggle. In the first half, the Dolphins played well against the Jets and took 10-3 lead into the half. In the final minutes of the 1st half, Bush hurt his knee and sat the remainder of the game. Bush had an MRI done today and the news was encouraging, but he’ll be listed as questionable this week and will likely be a game-time decision. With Bush out of the game in the 2nd half, the Dolphins got outscored 17-10. While Daniel Thomas can run the ball effectively, Bush is critical to the Dolphins success.

I don’t expect the Dolphins to score more than 17 points this game. I think they’ll likely end up with 13 points if the same Cardinals defense that played in the first three weeks shows up. Miami scored 20 at home against the Jets, they scored 10 against the Texans (and 7 came via a punt return), and the Dolphins 35 points against Oakland was almost solely due to Reggie Bush’s 172 rushing yards, 25 receiving yards, and 2 TDs against an Oakland Raiders team that couldn’t make a tackle. Bush ripped off a 65 yard and 23 yard TD. Don’t expect those TDs to happen when Bush has a banged up knee and is playing a team that has it together defensively.

The question now is, how many points can you expect from the Cardinals? The Cards scored 20 against Seattle, 20 against New England, and 20 against Philadelphia (7 came via a fluke fumble return for a TD so we’ll call it 20). Those are three solid defenses though. The Dolphins defense is respectable and may limit Arizona offensively. Holding the Cardinals to 20 points is quite possible for Miami’s defense. They’re not a pushover. The Dolphins defense definitely gives them the ability to keep the Dolphins (+6.5) in this game.

I think Vegas got this line right. I think you see the Cardinals win by 7-11 points here. I’m confident they’ll cover. Whether or not that happens will come down to which team wins the turnover battle. If the Cardinals win the turnover battle, which they should with the pressure they’ve been bringing, the Cardinals should win and cover, but if Miami outproduces the Cardinals in turnovers, they have a shot to cover the 6.5. I’ll take the over 0.5 INTs for Patrick Peterson, that’s for sure. Favorable refereeing will also be a plus.

Vegas is expecting a low-scoring game here, which is right in the range of what I’m expecting. I’m expecting 20-27 points from the Cardinals and 13-17 points from the Dolphins. The over/under is 39.5. I’m predicting a Cardinals win of 24-13. That’s too close to call for the over/under. If you’re looking to tease this game to get the Cardinals straight up without the spread, you can take the over 32.5 or under 46.5. I think they both hit, but it’ll be a gamble trying to pick the final score here. You may even see a 17-3 final or a 27-20 final which could be teaser busters. I think you simply give up the points and feel confident in the play.

Prediction: Cardinals 24 – Dolphins 13

Pick Against the Spread: Cardinals -6.5 (Confidence: 8/10)

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