Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins NFL Pick, Odds, Prediction NFL Preseason Week 1 - 8/8/14
Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-0)
NFL Football: Friday, August 8, 2014 at 7:00 pm (Georgia Dome)
The Line: Atlanta Falcons -2.5 -- Over/Under: 35.5 See the Latest Odds
TV: WUPA-TV (Atlanta) and WFOR-TV, CBS4 (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale)
The Falcons and Dolphins look to improve from seasons of poor performance and bad press as they square off in week one of the preseason.
The Miami Dolphins went 8-8 in 2013 but the campaign was dominated by the Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito offensive line scandal that leaves the team scrambling to put protection together for QB Ryan Tannehill. The third year Texas A&M product was abused to the tune of 58 sacks last season, and it remains to be seen whether the line can regroup and establish chemistry for the 2014 season. The 2013 Dolphins didn’t really excel in any category, ranking in the bottom half of the league in yards for and allowed in both rushing and passing. The best statistical unit was the passing defense which ranked 16th in the league while allowing 234.5 yards per game to the opposition. The offense will be somewhat suited to preseason success potential as backup QB Matt Moore has logged plenty of starting reps in his career with both Carolina and Miami, although again his protection could define his output to a large degree. The backfield was strengthened with the addition of Knowshon Moreno and the wide receiver position appears to have decent depth. Miami coach Joe Philbin has failed to excel in preseason contests in two seasons with the team, going just 2-7.
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The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a miserable 4-12 campaign as injuries to star wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White served to expose a deficient running game and horrific defense. The Falcons will be the stars of HBO’s Hard Knocks this season, which could serve to motivate head coach Mike Smith to put forth a better effort in the preseason than he has in year’s past; Smith has gone 1-11 in exhibition games over the past three seasons and is just 7-17 in such contests since 2008. At QB, the Falcons have a decent preseason option in T.J. Yates who has logged starting reps with the Houston Texans over the past three seasons. Wide receiver depth is also promising for the exhibition stage as veteran receiver Devin Hester ranks third on the depth chart at the WR1 position and Harry Douglas should also figure to get decent minutes after stepping up last season for the depleted unit. Running the ball and stopping the run have typically been the biggest challenges for the Falcons; I wouldn’t expect to see much of veteran Steven Jackson or speedster Jacquizz Rodgers early on, and it remains to be seen whether the Falcons’ offseason additions will do anything to improve a unit that ranked 31st in the league allowing 135.8 rushing yards per game last season.
Both of these coaches were highlighted for struggling in the preseason in my preseason review, so it’s tough to pick a side for this contest. If Matt Ryan plays for more than one drive it’s likely the Falcons can put up 7 early and the Falcons have the cameras following them, so I will side with the home team despite Mike Smith’s documented disinterest in winning preseason games.