Normally I would say that this game doesn’t need to be played. We know who will win. It won’t be close, and anybody looking to get some excitement in their life from watching NFL football will be sorely disappointed in the final outcome. I’m floored that the Ravens are only 7.5-point favorites, but then I think back to just last Sunday when the Broncos, Jaguars, Giants, Cardinals (without Kyler Murray or DeAndre Hopkins), and Titans win despite all being sizable underdogs. If all of them can beat the odds, why can’t the Dolphins?
Well, this game is different from those other ones. For one, even if the Ravens do end up finding themselves behind early on, Baltimore has a knack for clawing back into games they have no business winning. Just last weekend, the Ravens were down by two scores in the second half, but won the game on a 36-yard field goal by Justin Tucker in overtime. They’re a very well-coached team, and well-coached teams tend to play efficiently. There’s no denying that the Ravens, even with all their injuries at running back, have remained one of the most effective efficient run-first offenses in the NFL. Even when they were down big last week, the Ravens still dominated time of possession and quarterback Lamar Jackson outgained the entire Vikings’ offense on his own. The Ravens should have no trouble dominating the scoreboard against Miami though. For one, Miami has a pretty mediocre run defense. The Dolphins have allowed exactly one rushing touchdown per game and over 110 rushing yards per game. To be fair, the Ravens have played three teams this season who give up more touchdowns and yards on the ground than Miami, and two of those games (Detroit and Kansas City) were very close contests. The final team, the Los Angeles Chargers, were blown out. So, you might be inclined to give the Dolphins more of a chance than many people are giving them. The only problem is that Miami isn’t nearly as good on offense as Kansas City, or even Detroit.
The Miami Dolphins rank last in the NFL in rushing yards per game (75.1) — nearly 20 yards fewer than the Detroit Lions (93.1). They are also one of only three teams in the NFL to average 3.5 yards or fewer per carry. Now, none of that would matter if the Dolphins could move the ball through the air, but Tua Tagovailoa and Jacoby Brissett haven’t exactly looked elite in 2021. The Dolphins are pretty average when it comes to completion percentage, but they play very conservatively. Despite completing over seven percent more passes (64.9 completion percentage) than last-place Carolina (57.63 completion percentage), the Dolphins are the only team to average 6.0 or fewer yards per pass attempt.
Baltimore has every advantage over the Miami Dolphins. The only thing the Dolphins have is that the Ravens don’t know whether they’ll be facing Tagovailoa or Brissett. Given that neither quarterback has been incredibly effective though, the Ravens should have no issues stopping Miami’s offense. Baltimore is one of only three teams (Buffalo and Arizona) to allow fewer than four third-down conversions per game. While Miami is no slouch at converting on third downs — currently sitting at 12th in the NFL with a 42.28 conversion rate — teams with better percentages, such as the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, struggled to convert against Baltimore’s stout defense.
Baltimore is coming off a very hard-fought win against Minnesota. History says that’s the best time for an upset loss, but Miami just doesn’t have the tools to contend with Baltimore. The Dolphins have put up only 28 points in their last two games combined against the miserable Houston Texans and the very stout Buffalo Bills. Baltimore has a defense that can contend with Buffalo’s and an offense that can keep the ball out of Miami’s hands for most of the game. That sounds like a pretty big mismatch to me.