Free NFL Picks: Miami at Baltimore 11-07-2010

November 5, 2010

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Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens

Sunday November 7th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Baltimore -5

Overview:

The 4-3 Dolphins are an enigma, to say the least. While they have yet to win a home game, they are undefeated on the road, going a perfect 4-0. The 5-2 Ravens have won four of their last five, losing to only the New England Patriots in overtime. While the Dolphins aren’t getting nearly enough credit, partially because they remain in third place in their division, this is an intriguing matchup.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Dolphins have done a fantastic job of utilizing Brandon Marshall. When he went to Miami, originally it didn’t appear as though he would be able to succeed. Miami hasn’t had a dominant receiver since the Mark’s brothers. They run a gimmick offense and have Chad Henne at quarterback. It appears as though they are trying to bring in players to become a more traditional football team. They have one of the best tackles in football in Jake Long, a talented running back tandem, and now Marshall, who has seen a slight decline in his stats, but who has been incredible by Miami standards. Marshall has been a pass catching machine since he entered the NFL, so it is no surprise to see him at number four with 47 catches this season already. The Ravens are stingy against the pass, so a double digit catch day might be beyond Marshall’s reach, but he should still produce.
  • It seems absurd, but the Ravens have only gotten to the quarterback twelve times this year. The Ravens are known for punishing opposing quarterbacks, but they have been less aggressive than normal. Nothing is more indicative of their conservative play than their sack leader, Haloti Ngata. Ngata is a run stopping machine. His job on defense is to get penetration and let Ray Lewis roam around free. In my opinion, he is the best nose tackle in the NFL. The Ravens seem to be getting it done without blitzing, as they are still a top ten defense, but seeing Baltimore out of the top five is odd. They won’t be getting to the quarterback in this one, as Chad Henne has only been dropped ten times. A good matchup to watch is going to be Terrell Suggs and Jake Long.
  • Ray Rice has to be special again. While he is still one of the most complete running backs in the NFL, he has been missing that spark that made his so exciting to watch last year. He ranks 15th in the NFL in rushing yards, putting up only one 100 yard game so far. He is an asset to the Ravens offense, as he can block in pass protection, pick up the tough yards, and catch like a wide receiver. He is averaging four yards a carry, but he hasn’t been as special as he was last year. Miami is solid against the run, so Ray Rice will need to bring it on Sunday. If Ray Rice has a big game, the Ravens could run away with it.
  • What makes Rice’s lack of huge games so odd is that the passing attack has been outstanding. Joe Flacco is the perfect Ravens quarterback, as he is a steady leader, who might not have Peyton Manning stats, but he always puts his team in a position to be successful. Anquan Boldin was made to be a Baltimore Raven, being an elite blocking wide receiver and as sure handed and hard-nosed as they come. Boldin has already hauled in 38 passes for 518 yards and five touchdowns. He is finally a number one receiver and he has given the Ravens a dominant receiver, who will surely be an asset down the stretch.
  • Cameron Wake might not be a household name, but he is the single most important player on the Miami defense. Karlos Dansby was obviously a great addition over the off season and the Dolphins have solidified and improved at a number of spots, but the emergence of Cameron Wake off the edge has really taken the Dolphins to a new level. Wake has 6.5 sacks. He took it upon himself to take over the Green Bay game with a three sack performance. He sets an edge as well as any outside linebacker in the league, making him an all around force. The Ravens better account for #91.

Wrap Up:

I would put the Ravens up against anyone in the NFL and say they have a pretty good shot at coming away with a victory. That being said, the Dolphins are no slouch. This one is tough to call. I’m going with the Dolphins, simply because they haven’t lost on the road and the Ravens haven’t been spectacular enough for me to say they are going to win by five. They have won by five twice this season, beating the Broncos and the Browns by a greater total, but I wouldn’t put the Dolphins on the same level as those teams. Ravens win, but only by a field goal.

Free NFL Pick: Miami +5


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