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For Week 14, one matchup definitely worth keeping an eye on is two hot teams meeting in South Beach, as the 8-4 Miami Dolphins will host the 11-1 Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City enters the game with seven straight wins, the latest being a Sunday night victory against the Broncos, while Miami was able to grind out a victory against the Bengals, their seventh win in eight weeks.
Here is a preview for Sunday's showdown between the Chiefs and Dolphins, complete with a free pick. Kansas City is a seven-point favorite in the matchup.
It has been smooth sailing for the defending champions in 2020. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has 31 touchdowns and is the front-runner to win his second MVP. Both tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill have eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving, and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is making a push for 1,000 yards in his rookie season.
As a team, the Chiefs have won in big fashion and pulled out close victories. They've beaten playoff-caliber teams like the Ravens, Bills, and Buccaneers. Now sitting as the one-seed thanks to a Steelers loss on Monday, Kansas City will control their destiny, starting with challenging back-to-back road games against the Dolphins and Saints.
On the offensive side of the football, the Chiefs average a league-high 435 yards per game and the second-most points with 30.8. Their 314 passing yards also league the lead, though their 113 rushing yards per game rank just 16th. In addition, only one team is better on third downs than K.C., who convert 49 percent of the time.
Defensively, the Chiefs may give up yards, but they don't give up points. Kansas City is 15th in the NFL with 367 yards allowed per game, including 27th in rushing yards allowed, but rank sixth with just over 21 points allowed. The Chiefs also have just 20 sacks as a team, tied for the fifth-fewest in football, but have the second-most interceptions with 14.
2019 was a clear rebuilding year for the Dolphins, but the end of last season gave hope for the future. And after a big offseason that saw free agent signings like cornerback Byron Jones and linebacker Kyle Van Noy joining mainstays like corner Xavien Howard and wide receiver DeVante Parker to form a possible playoff contender. Add in rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who, along with the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, each have four wins in this breakout season.
Miami overcame a 1-3 start to win seven of their last eight, the notable wins being a decimation of the 49ers on the road and decisive victories against the Rams and Cardinals. Now the Fins, who currently hold the six-seed in the AFC, have massive playoff implication games over their next few weeks, with the Chiefs, Patriots, Raiders, and division-leading Bills still to go.
Whether it's been Fitzpatrick or Tua, the Dolphins' offense has been somewhat pedestrian. Miami is 16th in points scored with 25.3 per game, but average just 330 yards, the third-fewest in the league. They also rank 24th and 26th in passing and rushing yards per game, respectively, and carry a 38.4 percent success rate on third down that sits just 25th.
However, Miami has put out a resilient defense that has held opponents in check. Just one team allows fewer points than the Dolphins' 17.7, and no team is better on third downs, stopping opponents 67.8 percent of the time. They do give up some yards, though, averaging an 18th-ranked 376 yards per game with a fairly-average mark for both passing and rushing yards allowed. But the Fins also boast a solid 31 sacks along with 13 interceptions.
Starting with the Chiefs, despite being 11-1 overall, they are only 6-6 ATS. The struggles against the spread continue on the road, going 6-0 overall but 3-3 ATS. In their last six games, Kansas City has covered just twice, and have also gone 4-8 straight-up in their previous 12 games against the Dolphins.
The Dolphins, however, are 8-4 overall but 9-3 ATS. They're also 5-1 ATS at home and 4-2 overall. Miami is 7-1 both straight-up and ATS over their last eight games, in addition to being 7-2 straight-up over their previous nine home games hosting the Chiefs.
If you were making a case for the Chiefs being the best team in the NFL, you wouldn't have to try very hard. But the Dolphins will provide a decent test, as their defense is playing better than they ever have over the last couple of weeks. This game definitely has some upset potential, as the Dolphins play very well at home, and the Chiefs have sometimes struggled to pull away from teams they are expected to beat comfortably. Kansas City may very well win this game due to the talent of Mahomes alone, but expect Miami to make it close.
Free Pick: Miami Dolphins (+7).