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On paper, Sunday’s NFL playoff action in the opening Wild Card Round won’t unfold in predictable fashion.
The same didn’t apply to Saturday’s games, which most people understood going into the openers. As expected, the Derek Carr-less Oakland Raiders didn’t put up much of a fight in a 27-14 road loss to the Houston Texans. The Detroit Lions, again, as expected, managed to look worse in a 26-6 loss away from home at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.
Sunday isn’t so simple. The Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers have met once this year, with the former winning the first encounter. An NFC dance between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers—two teams that understand a thing or two about postseason runs—is perhaps the toughest pick of this playoff bracket.
None of this is a bad thing, of course. To top it off, the action starts earlier than Saturday’s slate, so fans get to enjoy another traditional Sunday schedule.
Few seem to like the Dolphins on the road in this game.
It’s interesting, to say the least. Pittsburgh has won seven games in a row to close the season. The Dolphins won’t have starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill due to injury. These factors might explain why Las Vegas favors the Steelers by 12 points, according to OddsShark.
But again, it’s interesting. Look at those two factors. Pittsburgh’s winning streak? Only one victim (the Giants) boasted a winning record, and the Steelers took advantage of the Cleveland Browns twice, needing overtime to end the season with a victory. And it’s not like Tannehill lit it up for the Dolphins this year with his ratio of 19 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.
So this one probably plays out a lot closer than most think. Miami’s backup, Matt Moore, has looked better than Tannehill at times anyway, throwing eight touchdowns and three interceptions in the team’s final three games.
In the Week 6 encounter, a 30-15 Miami win, the Dolphins held a hobbledBen Roethlisberger to one touchdown and two interceptions. The defense also kept Le’Veon Bell in check, limiting him to 10 carries for 53 yards. The Dolphins didn’t get a touchdown pass from Tannehill, but breakout star Jay Ajayi cruised for 204 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 8.2 yards per carry.