Baltimore @ Miami
-Dolphins QB Tua Tagovalloa is officially questionable with a left finger injury. He was active last week with the same injury, but did not play. The plan is to test Tua's grip pre game. If he can't go, Jacoby Brissett will get the start.
-Dolphins WR DeVante Parker was placed on IR on 11/5 with a hamstring injury. He had missed the teams previous 3 games.
-Ravens RT Patrick Mekari is doubtful with an ankle injury. He has not played since week 7. Trye Phillips has been filing in. He's a step down from Mekari.
-Ravens WR Sammy Watkins is expected to return for the first time since week 5 (hamstring). Watkins is officially questionable, but practiced in full on Wednesday -- aka, he isn't actually questionable.
-Ravens DT Brandon Williams is questionable with a shoulder injury. He hasn't played since week 7. He was limited in practice on Monday/Tuesday, but then did not practice Wednesday, which is a bad sign for his status. Williams has struggled all year and can certainly be replaced.
-Ravens RB Latavius Murray is doubtful with an ankle injury. This impacts props/fantasy, but not the actual game.
When Baltimore has the ball: This is a plus matchup for the Ravens -- their offense is 7th in DVOA and Miami's defense is 25th. Miami is one of the more man-heavy teams in the league, though they'll probably need to play a lot more zone against Lamar Jackson (in man coverage your back is often to the QB, which is a bad idea against faster QBs, and last time I checked Lamar is extremely fast). They also blitz at a 36.10% rate, second highest in the league. Despite their high blitz rate, they generate pressure 25.5% of the time, 14th highest in the league. Opposing defenses are blitzing Jackson at a 32.5% of the rate, which is 6th highest among 36 qualifiers. It's a strategy that has worked -- Jackson's PFF grade when blitzed is 58.7, 29th in the league, and when not blitzed he's a 90.3, 2nd best in the league. It's fair to say that Miami will likely continue their blitz heavy scheme against Jackson, but need to play a lot more zone than they're used to.
As is typical with running quarterbacks, Jackson prefers to hold onto the ball -- his average time to throw is 3.14 seconds (shout out pi), second highest rate in the league behind Jalen Hurts. He's under pressure 35.9% of the time, 13th highest in the league, which is a tribute to Jackson's scrambling abilities and the offensive line. I consider Miami's pass rush vs the Ravens line a even matchup -- the Dolphins have two solid pass rushers with Christian Wilkins on the inside and Emmanuel Ogbah on the outside, but that's about it. The Ravens line is mostly solid, though they don't have any stars after Ronnie Stanley injured his ankle. Jackson is coming off of three sub-par performances, but he's having a decent season throwing the ball, his 79.6 PFF grade is 12th in the league. His aDOT of 10.9 is highest in the league, which is a sign that he likes the deep ball -- that lines up well against Miami's defense that is 19th in deep passing DVOA.
Through the air, Baltimore is 10th in DVOA and Miami is 22nd defending the pass. Miami has historically solid corners -- Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, but both are having subpar seasons with PFF grades of 63.6 and 55.3, respectively. Baltimore will have Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, and rookie Rashod Bateman healthy for the first time this season. Along with Mark Andrews, who's been one of the best tight ends in football, it's a solid receiving core, and Miami ranks 22nd in DVOA against tight ends. On the ground, the Ravens are 2nd in DVOA against a Dolphins 18th ranked run defense. Devonta Freeman and the ghost of Le'Veon Bell will get the bulk of the RB carries. Jackson will likely end up carrying the ball more than both of them.
When Miami has the ball: It's a big tricky to write this part since I don't know who the fuck is playing quarterback, kind of a key detail. Both QBs have similar numbers -- Brissett has a 76 PFF grade, 5.6 YPA, 64.4% completion percentage, 3.2% big time throws, 3.2% turoverworthy plays, 7.7 aDOT. Tua is at a 71 PFF grade, 65.6% completion percentage, 6.6 yards per attempt, 3.0% big time throw percentage, 3.8% turnover worthy play percentage. Their exact same aDOT paints a picture that they have similar downfield tendencies, but Brissett holds onto the ball longer (2.83 seconds vs 2.51). As a result, Jacoby is under pressure more -- 43.5% vs 34.7%. That's a huge deal in this matchup -- Baltimore is similarly blitz heavy, their blitz rate of 32.5% is 6th most in the league, but they generate pressure 27.80% of the time, 4th most in the league. Meanwhile, Miami's offensive line is 5 revolving doors, and in my not-so humble opinion, the worst in the league. Whoever has the rock will be under pressure constantly. In total, Miami's offense is 28th in the league against a Ravens defense that is 26th.
Through the air, Miami's passing offense is 25th in DVOA against the Ravens 23rd ranked passing defense. The Dolphins top projected receivers: Jaylen Waddle, TE Mike Gesicki, Mack Hollis, RB Myles Gaskin, and Albert Wilson. Gesicki is a tight end in name only, he hardly ever pass blocks and lines up in line just 5.0% of the time (by the far the lowest of any TE). Him and Waddle will line up most frequently in the slot. The Ravens have a single scary defensive back by the name of Marlon Humphrey while everyone else has been subpar. On the ground, Miami has 30th ranked rushing offense DVOA vs the Ravens 12th ranked run defense. Myles Gaskin will get the bulk of the carries.
Spread: The Ravens are 7.5 point favorites. The model prefers the Dolphins, but the 2.81 strength isn't strong enough to warrant a bet. 78% of the cash and 53% of the tickets are on the Ravens, so Vegas is betting on the Fins.
Over/under: The total opened at 48, and has been bet down to 46.5. I like both defenses -- Miami's blitz happy scheme matches up well against Jackson, while the Ravens pass rush might actually kill whoever is playing QB for the Dolphins. Ruling: lean under.
Player props that don't suck:
Sammy Watkins under 2.5 receptions +118 (FanDuel): Watkins's projection is at 2.5 exactly, so I'm taking plus juice on either side. It's his first game back with a hamstring injury.
Myles Gaskin u3.5 receptions +114 (FanDuel): Simlar to above, 3.5 matches his projection, so I'll take +114.
Salvon Ahmed o8.5 receiving yards -105 (FanDuel): Ahmed is projected around 11.5 receiving yards. Ahmed has gone over this number in 5/9 games.