NFL Predictions Week 3: Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns
Sunday, 9/25/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Cleveland -1
Current Betting Line:  Cleveland -2.5
Opening Total:  41
Current Total:  41
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

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The Miami Dolphins are glad to be on the road this week

Miami is off to the dreaded 0-2 start and has failed to cover consecutive home games against the New England Patriots and Houston Texans.  It seems that life on the road is much better for this team, especially considering its 6-2 mark of a year ago.  In fact, the franchise is 15-9 away from Sun Life Stadium in the past three years under head coach Tony Sparano.  That’s the main reason why players are still directly behind their coaching staff heading into this weekend.  “Without a doubt, man,” commented Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby.  “These guys are awesome.”  Miami is 16-18 ATS over the last two-plus seasons, but are 5-0 ATS as a road underdog of a field goal or less.

The Dolphins have major problems on the defensive end, allowing a league-worst 483.5 yards per game.  Many believe a lot of it is due to a shortened offseason and facing two of the more elite offenses in the league.  On the other side of the ball, quarterback Chad Henne needs to start being more consistent, as he threw for 416 yards in the opener, only to complete 12 of 30 passes for 170 yards with a touchdown and interception a week ago.  Scoring in the red zone has been the focal point in this week’s practices, as the team has come away with a touchdown just four of 10 times.

Cleveland really feels that it should be 2-0 at this time, but the locker room is content with the team’s first 1-1 start since the 2007 season.  First-year head coach Pat Shurmur has made a good impression on the young team and everyone is starting to buy in.  “We have plenty of room to improve,” stated Browns tight end Alex Smith.  “We’re a young team.”  Second-year quarterback Colt McCoy has taken over as the leader of the team, completing 22 of 32 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 27-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts as one-point favorites.  Cleveland is 16-17 ATS over the last two-plus campaigns.

The Browns have one of the better running back tandems in the league, as Peyton Hillis continues to get a bulk of the carries, but Montario Hardesty is getting a chance to play in the fourth quarter.  Hillis carried the ball 27 times in Indianapolis after getting the ball 17 times in the season opener.  On the other side of the ball, Cleveland defensive coordinator Dick Jauron is trying to improve a unit that allowed 350.1 yards a game a season ago.  It’s tough to say if it’s working, as the first two opponents aren’t exactly among the league’s elite in terms of offense.

Bettors will find that the Dolphins are 9-2 ATS as a road underdog, while the Browns are 0-5 ATS at home.

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