New York Giants @ Miami Dolphins – Football & Racing News – Star Sports

It’s fair to say that expectations for both these teams were high after last season but in reality only one of these two has looked as though they may come close to realising those dreams and potential that they showed last year.

That side would be the Dolphins, but they were given a heavy dose of realism last week at Buffalo crashing to a 48-20 defeat against one of their main rivals not only in the AFC but also in their division.

If that was a just a setback for Miami, the Giants season has been nothing short of a car crash starting off with a 40-0 defeat at Dallas, the win at the Cardinals was just about the only bright spot on the schedule as both the 49ers and Seahawks have swept the Giants away by a combined score of 54-15. Now they get to face an offence that is despite the slight blip last week (they failed to score on eight of their last nine possessions) one of the most high powered in the NFL. Just take a look at these numbers. Miami lead the NFL in points per drive (3.19), they also lead the NFL with 54 plays of 15 or more yards (the next closest team, San Francisco has 34) and Miami also leads the NFL in gains of 20 or more yards (25) and 30 or more yards (12).

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Plus, the Dolphins lead the league in yards per passing play (9.3 yards) and yards per rushing play (6.3 yards). Those are just a few of the reasons why the Dolphins team total of +29.5 points is set at 3-4 and has every chance of breaching that mark easily. The Giants defence ranks 30th in the league in points allowed per game (30.5).

While the Dolphins will be looking to get back on track after hitting a big bump in the road at Buffalo last week, the Giants will be trying to keep the wheels from falling off in yet another game as they’ve been humiliated on multiple occasions in the season’s first month.

To compound the problems that the Giants already face a trip to South Florida off a short week with their injury worries piling up. Main running back Saquon Barkley is questionable ( went into the team’s Week 4 Monday Night Football game doubtful and was ultimately held out) but even if he does play what sort of offensive line are the Giants going to be operating with as they seek to spark their offence. They are expected to be without LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), LG Shane Lemieux (groin), and C John Michael Schmitz (shoulder) against the Dolphins, while RT Evan Neal is battling hand and ankle injuries.

The injuries to the offensive line means that Giants QB Daniel Jones may well be in for another torrid game. Jones was beaten up on Monday Night. He was pressured on 46.2% of his dropbacks and sacked a career-high 10 times. After taking seven sacks back in Week 1, Jones has had two of the three highest sack totals in his career over the first four weeks of the season. Outside of the sacks, Jones also had already thrown six interceptions.

That is not only the most in the league so far, but he only had five interceptions in 2022. Having Barkley back would be a massive help not only to Jones but also to the entire Giants offence after Matt Breida operated as the lead back on Monday night and the run game has been one area where the Miami defence has proved vulnerable this season allowing four all-purpose TD’s and 148.5 total yards per game.

They will only be able to use that run game though if they can keep the scoreboard in check and not have to play for miles behind as they have in many games this year. Far too often they have they have managed to play themselves into massive holes, climbing out only once against the Cardinals and the Dolphins are not a side to play catch up against. Consider this the Giants have been outscored a ridiculous 77-9 in the first half of games this season.

Miami, meanwhile, leads the NFL with an average of 21.5 first half points. As a result of those factors the Miami -9.5 at 11-10 on the First Half Handicap looks to be angle that is firmly in play. The Giants have a -76-point differential in the first half of games, the worst differential in the league and they have not scored a touchdown on 22 drives in the first half of games.

New York averaged just 3.4 yards per play against a Seattle defence that’s probably not as talented as Miami’s and just to attempt to keep up with Miami they are going to have to find some production from their receiving corps. Darius Slayton still looks to be the No1 receiver, but he could be challenged soon by Wan’Dale Robinson who led the receiving group against the Seahawks with six targets, catching five of them for 40 yards as he played 64% of snaps and earned a 19.3% target share. The receiving yards market on Robinson may well be worth a look as the line is set at a modest +40.5 (10-11) in a game where the Giants are likely to have to air the ball out. TE Darren Waller was big news in the pre-season but hasn’t gone anywhere near to justifying that hype finishing below 40 yards in three of four games and yet to find the end zone.

The numbers appertaining to the Dolphins offence have already been highlighted earlier in this piece and it was a surprise when they failed to match the Bills offensively last week having started well against them last week although much of that was down to the defence not being able to get the stops that were needed. Sacked just once in the first three weeks of the season Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa was sacked four times and hit nine times last week as in-game injuries to LT Terron Armstead and C Conor Williams hurt them badly.

Much of Miami’s offensive success this season is due to Tua Tagovailoa getting the ball out quickly and not being pressured at a high percentage, but the Giants love to blitz and that spells danger for them if they employ those tactics here. Against the blitz this season, Tagovailoa is 23-of-34 (67.6%) for 260 yards with four touchdowns. His 129.5 rating against the blitz is third in the NFL. When teams blitz Tua and do not create pressure, he is averaging 9.3 yards per pass attempt.

Tua ranks first in yards per attempt on throws with motion, on quick throws under 2.5 seconds and on passes between the numbers. The Giants defence ranks 24th or worse in all of those areas this season. Miami have plenty of weapons to play this way starting with their running backs Raheem Mostert and new kid on the block De’Von Achane who has burst on the scene in the last few weeks and is likely to take over the lead role in the Miami backfield, he out snapped Mostert 39-28 last week and gained the lead 11-10 when touching the ball. Over the past two weeks, Achane now has six touches inside of the 10-yard line while Mostert has two. Achane is the first rookie to have 100 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in consecutive games since Bryce Brown in 2021.

The Giants opponents have rushed for the eighth-most yards per game and the Dolphins lead the league with 176.8 rushing yards per game.

If the Giants do blitz a lot and Tua can get the ball out quickly as he has been doing he one of the better if not one the best receiving duos in the NFL to throw to in the ultra-speedy Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

Hill in particular could have a very big game against a defence that he matches up extremely well with and when Hill goes off he really goes off having had games of 215 and 157 yards already this season. Waddle has had a rather quieter start to the season and missed Week 3 through being in concussion protocol but he’s still dangerous customer who already has 210 yards receiving in three starts and it should not be forgotten that he led the entire NFL in yards per reception last season (18.1).

The Giants, no surprise, are a big underdog here and that’s a situation which has been the status quo over the past few seasons, and they have been in this position as a double-digit underdog 10 times since the start of the 2020 season. They were a +10.5-point underdog in San Francisco in Week 3 and lost by 18 points. Miami when they find themselves in this position as a home favourite are 15-5-2 ATS as a home favourite going back to 2016 and they are 5-2 ATS under current head coach Mike McDaniel in this spot.

On a real going day the Dolphins could cover the total points line (+47.5) on their own especially on current form and all the evidence points to another Miami win in fairly easy fashion with Tua and his explosive offence having another big day – Miami averages a ridiculous 511.0 yards of offence per game this season, which is 113.0 more per game than the second-place 49ers, the Giants average the second-fewest yards per game this year at just 252.0.

ANDY RICHMOND

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Author: Eugene Morris