A National Football League team doesn’t really want to have the apex of their year in September. It is so much better to peak now, late in the season and heading into the playoffs.
The Dolphins did bolt into the 2023 season with a road win at Los Angeles against the Chargers, 36-34. Now that we have a full regular season of numbers completed, beating the Chargers doesn’t really appear to be the accomplishment it seemed in September. The next week, the Dolphins advanced their record to two and oh with a victory over the New England Patriots, another victory that in retrospect wasn’t a high hurdle to clear.
Then, in third week action, the Dolphins laid notice to the rest of the league that they were a force to be reckoned with when they became only the third team in NFL history to score 70 points in a single game. Their fifty point win over the Denver Broncos, 70-20, in the Mile High City got the attention of the football world.
Since that huge triumph in Denver, the Dolphins record is 8 wins and 6 losses with only one victory, a narrow 22-20 home win over the Dallas Cowboys, coming against a team with a winning record. For a little more than half the season talk of wide receiver Tyreek Hill being the league Most Valuable Player was substantiated, but he has tailed off in recent weeks and not only had a major fire at his home but has been struggling with nagging injuries.
Last week, the Dolphins had a chance to maintain their once substantial division lead and win the AFC East Division. But, their primary competition for that distinction, the Buffalo Bills, the same team that ended Miami’s three game season opening win streak with a victory over the Dolphins in Buffalo, beat Mike McDaniel’s team again. The Bills two wins over the Dolphins this season were by scores of 48-20 in October and 21-14 last week.
Miami not only surrendered the division title in the loss to the Bills, but they also relinquished a home game this week and are now forced to meet the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead. This is not a good situation at all, playing on the road in the NFL is tough enough, but being from Miami and playing in freezing cold conditions has not proven good for the Dolphins.
Even when the weather is just below 40 degrees the Dolphins have lost nearly twice as many games as they have won. Their record in those contests is 25-46-1, as the temperatures drop so too do the Dolphins results. In Kansas City tomorrow the weather will be below zero degrees and with the wind chill the conditions will be, “Get me outta here.”
Everyone seems aware of the brutal conditions and the disadvantage that serves up for the Dolphins. That fact is reflected in the point spread, which opened with the home-standing Chiefs a 1½ point favorite and has swelled to Kansas City by 4½ points.
There are times when buying a bloated point spread is a price one only has to pay on the proposition but not the result. Yet, this is tricky. My numbers show that the Chiefs are not going to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, unlikely to even survive the American Football Conference playoffs. Their team this season has been more defensive oriented than the common thought that they have an explosive offense with the Patrick Mahomes ariel show. Andy Reid’s quarterback has been downright common this year and his lack of an explosive attack can be attributed not only to Mahomes uncharacteristically surrendering interceptions but a receiving corps that leads the league in dropped passes.
A year ago, after Hill left the Chiefs for the Dolphins, many thought without his primary deep threat Mahomes would suffer. He didn’t. The talented field general found new ways to exploit opposing defenses. I suggest that the reason for last year’s success was tied as much to motivation as talent. The Chiefs were coming off a season where the Cincinnati Bengals had replaced them as AFC Champions and they had to retool their offense because of Hill and other talented player departures.
This year, now that the Chiefs had overcome the problems they thought they were going to confront in 2022, they still didn’t have super talent in the receiver position nor the motivation to think they had anything to overcome.
The result has been a season in which their offense has been average and six losses during the regular season. Only once in his ten years as head coach in Kansas City did Reid suffer more losses, that being seven in 2014.
This is not the Chiefs year, and yet the weather seems to come to their aid and put them in a position to beat a team that they already downed once this season. The Chiefs and Dolphins met in Germany on November 5th, and Kansas City won that duel, 21-14.
Without the severe weather, this would be an easy pick for me. I would have backed the Dolphins getting one-and-one-half points. But in the harsh conditions in Kansas City, I may not want Miami getting 4½ points.
I can’t recommend a wager with a bad line, and I don’t want the Dolphins in the frigid conditions. When you combine those two things, you get one of those rare postseason games that likely will not offer a rated point spread play.