Each week, Coach Kevin Kelley will give a coach’s perspective and provide analysis for a few games against the spread throughout the 2022 NFL season.
The battle for the AFC East lead and the battle for a share of the NFC North lead are the two games of the week this week!
Josh Allen, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Tua Tagovailoa walk into a game that might be the most anticipated game of the short season after the Miami Dolphins’ fourth quarter performance last week.
Not as looked forward to, but carrying its own mystique is the Minnesota Vikings at home against the Detroit Lions. Kirk Cousins is Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to Sunday afternoon games and prime time games. Dan Campbell and D’Andre Swift have the Lions playing noticeably hard on the field and I don’t want to say it, fun to watch. Swift has 20 carries and is averaging 10 yards per carry. That is unheard of in the NFL. They are 1-1, same as the Vikings, and easily could have been 2-0.
Okay, after Week 2, I have gone into detail on four games. I am 2-2 in these games. My Twitter “weird line” games on @coachkelley1 are 4-0. These two below need to go 2-0 and I think they will.
Buffalo Bills (-5.5) at Miami Dolphins
Buffalo comes into Miami off an absolute drubbing of Tennessee 41-7, which by the way, was the score at the end of the third quarter. They called the dogs off after that.
Miami comes in off a huge comeback win over Lamar Jackson and the Ravens scoring 35 points in the second half and 28 in the fourth quarter alone. I am sure they have confidence and are riding that high that comes with that type of game.
The good news for them is they get to play at home. The stadium seems to be arranged where Miami will be in the shade when on the sidelines for much of the game while Buffalo will have to stand and bake for three hours. The high is ONLY 87 degrees and the humidity will be awful but in my opinion that’s the only real advantage Miami has.
It will be an interesting contrast of styles on defense. Miami likes to blitz a lot and play Cover-0 and a ton of man-to-man. Buffalo likes to keep those safeties back, play a lot of zone, and not let teams beat them deep
For Miami to make big plays with Waddle and Hill, it will have to be throwing them the ball on intermediate routes of 12-20 yards like dig routes and quick posts, letting them run after catch, and allowing them to try to make the Bills two very good safeties, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, miss in the open field.
Those two guys are possibly the best safety combination in the game and do the absolute best job in the league of disguising one or two high and who is coming down when it is one high. Both have been on the injury report this week, which could change the defense even if just one doesn’t play.
With both on the field, those long plays that Miami made against Baltimore will be more limited on Sunday. Miami isn’t set up to run the ball to win the game just yet and I am anxious to see if Mike McDaniel tries to do too much of that, trying to keep the ball out of Josh Allen’s hands. I expect the Dolphins to move the ball some but not be able to get those chunk plays. Their success will depend on how well Tua can be patient and pick his spots.
I will say that I found some interesting information on Allen versus the blitz. While he is getting better, he still has some major deficiencies when teams bring six or more and Miami is the team that is most likely to do that. Allen tends to dump the ball of short at a higher percentage than normal when most probably think he would buy time scrambling and throw it down the field. Allen is 1-for-4 this year against six-man blitzes with 2.0 yards per attempt. No quarterback saw more six-man blitzes than Allen (65) in 2021.
The difference between five guys coming after you and six is amazing. Allen recognizes that even he has a hard time getting away from that many pass rushers. Allen will have plenty of opportunities to throw downfield against the man-to-man defense and usually that equates to a lower completion percentage but a higher yards per completion than normal.
Right now over at my friends at Football Outsiders, Buffalo is ranked No. 1 in DAVE, which is DVOA still weighted by preseason projections, by a long ways. Miami is ranked 16th overall (mostly due to their defensive performance against the Ravens). Buffalo is ranked No. 1 in total DVOA and defensive DVOA while Miami is No. 14 and No. 16, respectively.
Allen moves better and can make yards with his legs. Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis are not quite as good as Hill and Waddle, but they aren’t bad. Dawson Knox and Jamison Crowder help round out a receiving corp that I think is right there with Miami’s.
The big difference will be the defenses though. Everyone expects this to be a shootout and I think it will be more of a 30-20 or 27-17 type of game with several drives stalling and ending in field goals. Oh and by the way, Josh Allen’s completion percentage above expected is better than Tua’s, which I would never have guessed, which in my opinion, is a big determination in who wins and covers.
The line is currently Bills -5 ½ and I think the Bills cover this spread.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)
At the same time that awesome game is going on, the battle for the early led in the NFC North early be happening. In Minnesota, you get a team off a bad road loss in prime time. As bad as they have been with Cousins in prime time, they have been very good coming off those losses. It’s like they hyper focus the next week and I think Cousins has a lot to do with that too.
Even though he was dreadful against Philadelphia and threw three interceptions, he has long been one of the more accurate guys in football as I documented in Week 1. He had a bad game and will revert back to his average this week.
They didn’t get Justin Jefferson involved early or often and teams with players like that usually don’t make that mistake two weeks in a row. Dalvin Cook only had six carries. So both of their playmakers touched the ball a total of 12 times out of almost 60 plays. If that happens again, Kevin O’Connell needs to have his head examined.
Minnesota comes in ranked 14th in DAVE while Detroit comes in ranked 20th. Detroit is playing their first road game of the year while Minnesota is coming back home. Detroit has given up more than 30 points per game in the first two, again, at home. They gave up 38 to Philadelphia at home while Minnesota gave up 24 to them at Philly.
The one player that does scare me is Swift. He is averaging 10 yards per carry. He averages 100 yards per game exactly on 10 carries per game exactly. He is averaging over four yards more per carry than he should be according to Next Gen Stats. Most guys don’t average four yards per carry, let alone four yards MORE than they should on each play. They are doing some things right in the run game.
But Jared Goff is too much of a liability to keep them in the game for long. Basically speaking, Goff is 28th after two weeks in accuracy during the game and that will not get you many wins or drives when you really need them. Again, Cousins has over the years been in the top 10 in this category.
With an embarrassed team and a history of playing well coming in that way, and knowing that the Lions are still the Lions until they string together some wins (let’s be honest, beating Carson Wentz is not nearly as powerful as beating Aaron Rodgers) and against good teams, I think Minnesota comes out playing well early and makes this game a 30-16 type of game.
I almost wrote about the GOAT game with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers squaring off but there is too much uncertainty on the receiving corp for the Bucs right now. I do think that TB12 wins this one by seven and goes to 3-0 though for whatever that’s worth. I think he plays well out of poor games, his defense is better, and they are at home in the heat that will be an advantage. Tampa is only favored by one at home. I’ll take it.
The other good game to win some dollars on is Denver at home against the 49ers. Russell Wilson had to have gone into Nathaniel Hackett’s office and asked him to let him have more control of the ball in crucial situations.
Everyone saw the debacle in Seattle when they let 40 seconds run off the clock so they could attempt to make what would have been the second longest field goal in NFL history instead of let their quarter billion dollar quarterback get them closer than a 64-yarder. Then last week on third and one, they took the ball away from Russ and gave it to a tight end to run and option play. HELLO, Hackett, what are you doing?
Well, this week Russ cooks while Jimmy G does perform better than Trey Lance would have. Give me Denver as a dog at home of plus two.
Best of luck and let’s go 4-0.