|Las Vegas Raiders||+2.5
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Tua and the Dolphins are talented enough to keep these shaky Raiders from stealing their Wild Card spot in the playoffs.
Dolphins -2.5 (-117)
|Dolphins vs Raiders Information|
|What||Miami Dolphins vs Las Vegas Raiders|
|Where||Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, NV|
|When||Saturday, December 26, 2020; 8:15 PM ET|
|How to watch||NFLN|
The 9-5 Dolphins are now in a position to snag one of the AFC’s three Wildcard spots in the playoffs, and their rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is a big factor in this, and now the Phins have a chance to take care of the 7-7- LV Raiders, one of the teams that would also love to earn that same postseason spot instead.
A lot of things must happen for the .500 Las Vegas Raiders to earn an AFC Wildcard postseason spot, and head coach Jon Gruden and his dependable QB Derek Carr understand that the first of those things is a Week 16 victory over these favored Dolphins, but that will require the Raiders to play their best game of the season.
These two AFC rivals have played each other 39 prior times (including 4 postseason games), with the Las Vegas Raiders winning 20 of those games and the Miami Dolphins winning 18 of the games, plus there has been a tie.
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Dolphins first-year head coach Brian Flores shocked the football world earlier in the season by benching his effective starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and playing rookie Tua Tagovailoa, a kid with tons of talent in college but who had yet to prove himself on a National Football League level, especially given the lack of preseason due to the pandemic.
Now Flores looks like a genius; his rookie having posted a record of 5-2 since the change and now the 9-5 Dolphins are in a position to snag one of the AFC’s three Wildcard spots for the playoffs and put Miami into the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Tua is playing with the confidence of a veteran, and his numbers are just as respectable, so far completing 128-of-210 passes for 1,359 yards and 9 touchdowns with just 2 interceptions, stats that will just continue to improve as Tagovailoa continues to develop and his team learns to play football the way he does.
Early during Raiders’ Week 15 overtime loss to the Chargers, Las Vegas starting quarterback Derek Carr pulled up limping, unhit on a scramble out of bounds, and it turns out he injured his groin and is now listed as questionable for this Week 16 matchup with Miami.
Filling in for Carr last week was back up Marcus Mariota, who did a decent enough job under center despite the loss, completing passes for yards and touchdowns with an interception, numbers that amounted to a QBR of 97.9.
So now, with Carr listed as questionable and “50-50 to play” according to head coach Jon Gruden, the likelihood of Mariota suiting up seems large, and the Dolphins know this and have most likely game planned for either scenario.
In his sixth NFL season (all with the Dolphins), wide receiver DeVante Parker has become a key to the Miami offense, the 6’ 3” 216 pound playmaker possessing the type of size that allows him to fight for extra yardage after every one of his receptions.
Parker is on track to have second best season of his career, so far with 56 catches for 677 yards and 4 touchdowns, his longest a 28-yarder, and that is with two different quarterbacks throwing balls to him, so expect those numbers to improve as he and rookie Tua begin to develop their connection.
For the Dolphins to beat Las Vegas, Parker has to abuse their 26th ranked passing defense and have the game of his season with at least one visit to the end zone, like when the team played Denver in Week 11 and Parker caught 6 balls for 61 yards and a TD.
One of the challenges that the Raiders face in Week 16 is with their quarterback, specifically whether Carr can start with his injured groin or if his backup, Marcus Mariota, will have to suit up (see above), but regardless Las Vegas wide receiver Nelson Agholor must have a big game if the Raiders expect to take home a win.
Agholor spent the first five seasons of his NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles, and in his first year with the Raiders he has become a solid contributor to the passing attack, so far with 42 receptions for 684 yards and 7 touchdowns, his longest a 59-yarder.
When it comes to stopping the pass, the Dolphins are middle of the road – ranked 18th after allowing opponents to throw for an average of almost 240 yards per game – so it will be up to Agholor to get open enough on Sunday to allow whoever ends up quarterbacking for Vegas to get him the ball early and often.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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