SharpClarke's Best Week 16 NFL Bet: GB @ MIA Matchup Spotlight
This week's spotlight takes us to one of the few fair-weather games on this week's slate, as the Packers visit the Dolphins in Miami on Christmas Day. Once again, we are looking into a matchup between playoff contenders. That's right—the Packers somehow find themselves still in the mix this late in the season after an underwhelming start, thanks to a two-game win streak against the bottom-dwelling Bears and Rams. And the Dolphins are right in the mix for a Wild Card spot in the AFC despite a three-game skid. They'll look to get back on the right track here at home. Let's dive in.
MIA Offense vs. GB Defense
The numbers suggest that the Dolphins should win this matchup when they have the ball. They have an explosive offense and the Packers' defense has underachieved and dealt with injury all year. But everyone knows the numbers. They are baked into this spread. The question when analyzing a matchup should be whether we expect the offense to have a better or worse performance relative to expectation. Here, I like the Packers to put up a stronger fight than the numbers would suggest.
At a basic level, the Dolphins rely on their passing offense. Their run game has shown moments but ultimately they have a weak offensive line and struggle to run consistently. The Packers' defensive weakness is on the ground. We saw the Rams last week unable to capitalize against this weakness and really had nothing else going for them. Of course, the Dolphins have a much stronger passing attack. But two important things have come to light during the Dolphins' recent skid: First, with tape accumulating on Mike McDaniel's scheme, defenses are learning how to disrupt the quick-passing attack that has been so successful. So far, the Dolphins have lacked a real counter-punch. And second, Tua Tagovailoa's inconsistency has cost them. I would not expect either situation to suddenly improve for this matchup, as the Packers actually have the secondary pieces to put up a fight.
Of course, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are good enough to take any pass to the house. That's a constant threat. If the Packers are relying solely on their defense here, that will not go well for them.
GB Offense vs. MIA Defense
With the disclaimer that I have been generally higher on the Packers than most this year, I am optimistic that the Packers can keep up on offense. My optimism comes from watching and grading every snap of football the Packers have played. Davante Adams left a massive hole this offseason that the Packers have struggled to fill. Romeo Doubs showed promise early but then got hurt. It took a while for Christian Watson to get going and he also dealt with injury. Randall Cobb stepped in nicely until he got hurt. Allen Lazard was in-and-out of the lineup early on, and Sammy Watkins never panned out. But slowly, these issues have resolved themselves and the Packers are playing their best offensive football of the season right now. Aaron Rodgers has always been slow to trust rookie receivers, but he knows he has no choice and you can see his confidence level increasing by the week. The Packers also run the ball effectively with both Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. It took a while to get here, and maybe it's too late. But Rodgers looks engaged and focused, which is a huge determinant of the Packers' success.
Specifically, given their relative weakness at wide receiver overall, the Packers have played their best offensive football against teams with weak secondaries. Rodgers will find the open man if he exists. But in struggles against the Jets and Titans, the Packers ran into elite coverage units that just swallowed everything up. The Dolphins' coverage unit is sketchy after dealing with multiple key injuries this year. They will not be able to keep up with every weapon, so I expect some success from Rodgers here. The Packers also do a great job of bleeding the clock and controlling the ball, with a short passing attack and run game that consistently picks up yardage. We have seen this formula work against the Dolphins when the 49ers kept their explosive offense off the field by holding the ball for 40 minutes. Reducing possessions is key to facing the Dolphins, and the Packers do it expertly. They will need to be efficient in the red zone, which might be the biggest concern here. But they have improved, and trending performance matters.
The Packers control the clock for the majority of the game, winning the time of possession battle 38 minutes to 22 minutes. But a handful of explosive plays by the Dolphins' offense neutralizes this advantage. Both offenses are fairly efficient overall, but a few red zone stops keep the score low. Rodgers leads a game-winning field goal drive late to win on the road.
Final Score Prediction: GB 26 - MIA 23
The game opened with the Dolphins as anywhere from 4.5- to 5.5-point favorites. Both teams came off relatively impressive performances last week, with the Dolphins going toe-to-toe with the Bills in the snow and the Packers taking care of business at home. But the appetite for a Packers resurgence came in early, pushing this spread down to 4 (and even 3.5 in some places). I was involved in this one early at GB +4.5 and I think this movement is justified. But with an explosive offense and a likable head coach for the Dolphins, playing at home, there will be plenty of love for the Dolphins that should keep this one from moving all the way to MIA -3. However, I would recommend betting this one early before the 4s are gone, if you like the Packers. This line movement represents healthy respect for the Packers.
This line has moved already but I still like it at GB +4. That's available this morning at the Circa in Las Vegas and on WynnBet. I would also consider GB +3.5 (-105) on FanDuel if all the 4s are gone by the time this gets published. The Moneyline is also appealing
GB +4 (-110) (WynnBet) (Circa)
GB Moneyline (+165) (PointsBet)
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