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Saturday's triple-header of NFL action concludes in Sin City when the 7-7 Las Vegas Raiders host the 9-5 Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are holding on to the final Wild Card spot in the AFC and need a win to maintain their position, while the Raiders' fleeting hopes of a playoff spot would officially end with a loss.
Here is a closer look at both teams, as well as some betting trends and a free pick. Miami is currently a 2.5-point favorite on the road.
Tons of draft picks and offseason acquisitions have paid off for the Dolphins, who are fighting for just their second playoff appearance in 12 years. What's even more remarkable about their playoff push is that they started the year 1-3 and made a change at quarterback less than halfway through the season, shifting from the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to the rookie Tua Tagovailoa. With two games left, including Week 17 at the division champion Bills, Miami will feel the pressure to win Saturday in Vegas.
Injuries to skill players are part of the reason why the Dolphins rank near the bottom-five in total yards per game, coming in at just under 340. They're also 24th and 22nd in passing and rushing yards, respectively. But their 25 points per game is a solid average, putting them at 16th.
Defensively, despite being 20th in yards allowed, no team gives up fewer points per game than Miami's 18.4. They also boast the league's best third-down defense and have the second-most interceptions as a team with 16, to go along with a solid 37 sacks as well.
At one point, the Raiders were 6-3 with victories against the Chiefs and Saints on their resume, aiming for a return to the playoffs for the second time in 18 years. But the last few weeks have been a disaster, as the Silver and Black have lost four of their last five, their one victory coming on a miracle final play against the then-winless New York Jets. Quarterback Derek Carr, along with running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller, will hope to lead Vegas to two straight victories and hope either Miami or Baltimore loses out.
With the aforementioned players, Las Vegas' offense averages just under 27 points per game, good for 11th in the NFL. They're also within the top half of the league with 384 total yards per game, rushing and passing yards included, and boast the second-best third-down offense in football.
However, the Raiders have been getting pounded defensively, especially in the last few weeks. Vegas is giving up 30 points per game, the third-most in football, while giving up 392 yards and having the second-worst third-down defense. In addition, only the Titans have fewer than Las Vegas' 16 sacks as a team.
For the season, Miami boasts an impressive 11-3 record ATS compared to their 9-5 overall record and sit 4-2 on the road both straight up and ATS. The Dolphins have covered in all but one of their last 10 games, a stretch in which they have gone 8-2. They are also 5-0-1 in their previous six meetings with the Raiders.
Speaking of the Raiders, Las Vegas is 7-7 both straight up and ATS, but are slightly better at home ATS (3-4) compared to overall (2-5). The Raiders have covered just once in their last five games, a stretch in which they have only one win. They're also 0-6 ATS in their previous six games against an AFC East team.
The Dolphins don't have a very explosive offense, while the Raiders can put up points. But the difference in defenses is staggering, and that's what is going to make a difference. Tagovailoa should be comfortable throughout the game and avoid turnovers, while on the other side, Miami can rush Carr and force him into a couple of mistakes. Both teams are desperate, but Miami is the better team that will leave Las Vegas with a win.
Betting Pick: Miami Dolphins (-2.5).