MIAMI DOLPHINS (4-4)
at CAROLINA PANTHERS (6-3)
Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, NC
Kickoff: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Carolina -9.5, Total: 38.5
The Dolphins will be hoping to get back over the .500 mark when they face the Panthers on Monday.
Miami is coming off of back-to-back losses, but this team is still 4-4 and right in the thick of things in the AFC. The Dolphins can still easily find a way to make it to the postseason, but they’re going to need to start winning some games soon. This one on Monday will not be easy, though. The Panthers have been excellent this season, which shows in their 6-3 record. Carolina has won-and-covered in two straight heading into this one, and the team played Tampa Bay and Atlanta in those contests. Both teams are very talented, so it’s not like the Panthers are beating nobody. One trend that stands out when looking at this game is the fact that the Dolphins are 3-11 ATS after allowing six or more yards per play in their previous games over the past three seasons. The Panthers also happen to be a ridiculous 8-1 ATS after allowing six or more yards per play in the previous game over the past three seasons. And for those looking to take a total in this one, Miami is 6-0 UNDER in road games in non-conference games over the past three years.
The Dolphins are going to be kicking themselves over the way they lost to the Raiders last week, as they wasted an extremely good performance from QB Jay Cutler in that one. Cutler was 34-for-42 with 311 yards, three touchdowns and no picks in that game, but the Dolphins were unable to finish drives and also had a costly turnover in the red zone in that one. That type of mistake can change the momentum in a game and that is exactly what happened there. Miami will need to be more careful with the football in this one, as it could be even harder to stop Carolina than it was Oakland. It was RB Kenyan Drake that fumbled in that one and he can’t afford to do it again, as Damien Williams played well against the Raiders and Drake needs to do everything he can to make sure he stays on the field. As for the passing game, Cutler would be happy to have yet another performance like he did against Oakland. He’d be wise to target WRs DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry as much as possible here, as both are excellent in their own ways. Parker can go up and catch contested balls, and Landry roams free over the middle of the field. Defensively, Miami needs to focus on keeping Cam Newton in the pocket. The Dolphins must also keep an eye on Christian McCaffrey at all times.
In a 20-17 win over the Falcons last game, Cam Newton threw for just 137 yards with no touchdowns and no picks. He did, however, rush for 86 yards and a touchdown in that game. His ability to run is what makes him so special as a player and you can count on him making some plays with his legs in this one. Another guy that will be out there eating up yards on the ground is rookie RB Christian McCaffrey. Last week, McCaffrey had what was probably his best game as a pro thus far. He rushed for 66 yards and a touchdown and also caught five passes for 28 yards. The trade of Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo will free up more opportunities in the passing game for McCaffrey and the same can also be said for WR Devin Funchess. Funchess is going to be counted on to make plays on the outside for Carolina often in this one and he should be able to do it against an Oakland team that definitely blows coverages on occasion. As for Carolina’s defense, the team just needs to get some pressure on Jay Cutler in this game. Cutler is as good as anybody when he is throwing with a clean pocket, but he does not handle pressure well and makes a ton of mistakes when he is uncomfortable.