NFL: Ravens to dismantle rebuilding Dolphins in Week 1


NFL nut Kyle Brown (@Kyleianbrown) runs the rule over best bets from Sunday's Week 1 action.

Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins | Sunday 8th September 2019, 18:00

The Miami Dolphins have become somewhat of a meme in recent weeks as they’ve made no attempt to hide the fact they’re rebuilding for the future. Seemingly anybody on their roster with the slightest ounce of value has been traded away in exchange for draft pics.  The future may be bright, but in 2019 they’re favoured by all bookmakers to wind up with the worst record in 2019 and claim the number 1 draft pick.

The Ravens, on the other hand, have doubled down on their one-dimensional QB and have transformed the team into a possession based, run-first offense. Their chances of victory are also helped by the fact they had the top ranked defence from 2018, allowing the fewest yards against of any team (4687).

The Ravens are favoured by seven points in the Hard Rock Stadium this week, and I expect them to surpass that number comfortably. A few months ago, that number was only around 2.5 – 3.5, but with every trade the Dolphins have made the number has got higher and higher. The Ravens being favoured by seven is the largest handicap of any teams on the road in Week 1.

As mentioned, the Ravens offense is run-first, and given they added Mark Ingram to the backfield I can only see them improving this year.

The Dolphins were second last against the run in 2018, allowing 2325 yards to the opposition – 4.8 yards per-carry. 17 rushing TD’s allowed in 16 games will have the Ravens backfield licking their lips, and new man Ingram can be backed at 11/10 to score anytime, with both Ladbrokes and Coral.

If you fancy Lamar Jackson to steal the limelight at the goal line then he’s available at a reasonable 4/5, again with Ladbrokes and Coral.

A market I think has the best value, however, is for Baltimore to win each half, priced at 15/8 on William Hill. The defence should be too strong for the offensive line to handle, and for every ‘magic’ game Ryan Fitzpatrick has, he also has two or three sub-par ones. He won’t be helped by the lack of star targets to throw at.

Baltimore is simply a better team, with a clear game plan and players who suit the scheme. I don’t expect them to ever be in danger of winning this one.

San Francisco 49ers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Sunday 8th September 2019, 18:00

This game is a coin flip amongst both bookmakers, with a +-1 handicap available at even odds for either team, depending who you bet with. While it may be hard to call an outright winner, both teams were plagued by a similar flaw in 2018 – an ability to stop the pass.

Only the Oakland Raiders (36) allowed more TD passes than the 49ers (35) and the Bucs (34) in 2018. Given that both teams have big weapons at wide receiver and tight end, it’s well worth a look into anytime TD markets and find some value.

San Francisco will be relieved to have Jimmy Garoppolo back at QB after an injury ravaged first season in the Bay Area. Despite his absence however, George Kittle still had a career year, and is 6/5 with Ladbrokes to score anytime against the Bucs. He had 1377 total yards last season, and he couldn’t ask for a better Week 1 opponent to try and best that number as the Bucs allowed an average of 7.3 yards per-catch, joint second worst in the league. Kittle is 6/5 to score anytime with Ladbrokes.

At the time of writing there are no yardage markets available, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

On the other side, Tampa have three big targets in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and OJ Howard for Jameis Winston to throw at. To score anytime, Evans is odds on at 87/100, Howard is 29/20 and Godwin is 6/4, all best priced with Ladbrokes.

I’m tempted to go with the 6”6, 251-pound tight end to bring a ball home in the end zone. He caught 5 TD passes last year on seven endzone targets, and it looked to be a breakout year before his season was cut short due to injury – missing six games. 12 TDs in the first two seasons in the NFL as a tight end are still very respectable numbers, regardless.

With new HC Bruce Arians bringing a true offensive mind to Tampa this year, I expect him to create constant mismatches in the middle for the big third year tight end. With Evans and Godwin likely to attract multiple defenders when the ball is primed for a throw, Howard may find himself with ample space and opportunities to make a score.

Best Bets

Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins – Baltimore Ravens -9.5 handicap. (13/10 Bet365)

Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins – Baltimore Ravens to Win Both Halves (15/8 William Hill)

San Francisco 49ers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OJ Howard to score a touchdown at anytime (29/20 Ladbrokes)

About Author

As a journalism student consumed by sports on a daily basis, being paid to write about them would be the dream upon graduating (assuming I don’t get scouted last minute to play for Barcelona). I’m Scottish born and proudly support the national team, as well as Chelsea and the Chicago Bears. My family are all massive Rangers fans - regardless of what division they wake up in. I’ve started using statistics and data to make selections, rather than my gut. American Football is what I specialise in, and thankfully for me, it is a massively data-driven sport. Everything from pass completion to weather forecasts are taken into account. My love for numbers comes from my interest in poker. I play regularly online and at casinos, and every decision made requires thought into percentages and odds. Although there is an element of luck, it showed me that grasping an understanding of mathematics could prove to be very profitable.

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