At the halfway point in the NFL season, we’re left with some particularly difficult matchups to comb through on Sunday afternoon. The NFL returns to Europe with the Chiefs “hosting” the Dolphins in Frankfurt, Germany.
The story around the rest of the league will be backup quarterbacks and quite a few difficult watches here in Week 9. The NFL trade deadline has also come and gone this week as a few new faces will look to settle into their teams.
Frankfurt Stadium, otherwise known as the Waldstadion, plays host to a matchup atop the AFC between the Chiefs and Dolphins. As is always the case with international games it’s important to know these teams travel schedules. The Chiefs are coming off a surprising loss to the Denver Broncos on the road in a game where the Chiefs were unable to find the end zone.
There were a multitude of factors to cite as to why the Chiefs fell flat in this game, whether it was the altitude and weather, or the fact that Mahomes came down with the flu, or even the absence of Taylor Swift. This was a throw away game for me in the analysis of the Chiefs.
Nothing went right and there was little motivation to come back in that one other than getting out of Denver. The Chiefs elected to leave for Germany on Wednesday and will practice Thursday and Friday.
The Dolphins are coming off a home victory to the New England Patriots where the game never really felt in question, despite the Patriots jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the 1st quarter. The Patriots did force the Dolphins to throw more to maintain pressure on a Patriots offense that did look healthier than it has all season, but the Dolphins offense is simply too dynamic for that to be a concern.
Both Waddle and Hill went for over 110 yards and easily dispatched a Patriots defense ravaged by injury. The Dolphins left for Germany immediately and will spend the entire week in Europe, which usually bodes well for players getting acclimated to the time change.
We’ve seen market support for Miami here as this one opened up at +2.5 but has been pushed down to -1.5 or -2 in some spots. The key for me in this matchup is how surprisingly good the Chiefs defense has been in 2023.
They’re ranked 5th in defensive DVOA and have put up solid performances in coverage against a few strong passing offenses. They will be without LB Nick Bolton after placing him on IR, but the defense overall has done very well under coach Chris Spanuolo.
Although I look to avoid anecdotal arguments when it comes to analyzing football games, it does feel like Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins fall short as underdogs against great teams. They struggled against Buffalo and Philadelphia, their only two losses on the season, while beating up on the Broncos, Giants, and Panthers.
While I still believe this is an elite offense, their statistics are inflated by games where they are blowing inferior teams out of the water. I am not in agreement on the market sentiment surrounding Miami and would rather back the Chiefs in this one.
From a very simple perspective, getting the best QB in football at under a FG is almost like an auto-bet. We know the Chiefs offense has looked out of sync at times this season, but they should be able to get up and perform in a big matchup that could have serious playoff implications regarding the #1 seed in the AFC. We’ll roll with the Chiefs at -1.5 (-110) for *1%.
Here’s a bit of a hold your nose play, as the Washington Commanders head into New England after trading away both Montez Sweat and Chase Young to the Bears and 49ers, respectively. The Commanders were going to have a salary cap issue that was going to force the team to choose between the pass rushers this offseason, but instead opted to take the value of future assets and moved both players away. Despite the star power they traded away, here’s why I’m not too concerned about Washington in this spot:
Firstly, this defense is bad. They are second to last in expected points added and rank 26th in defensive DVOA. Yes, losing Sweat and Chase Young hurts, but they weren’t making much of an impact anyway. This Washington team lives and dies by Sam Howell, for better and for worse.
The Commanders struggle to get any semblance of pass protection and Howell’s tendency to hold the ball too long has forced the team to take way too many sacks and are constantly playing from behind. (To be fair the sacks and turnovers on offense do play directly into the field position the defense is given to work with.)
Taking a look at the Patriots injury report, it’s scattered with limited participants, including LB Josh Uche and CB Jonathan Jones. While it does seem like many of these injury designations are precautionary, the Patriots are a banged up unit on defense already without star pass rusher Matthew Judon and rookie standout Christian Gonzales.
The Pats also lost their top WR in Kendrick Bourne as he’s out for the season with a torn ACL. The Patriots offense felt like it was finally gaining a bit of momentum and losing Bourne is a huge blow to a wide receiver core that is in dire need of a talent upgrade.
I don’t have much confidence in a Mac Jones led team, despite the relative ease the Commanders present on defense. This line opened at +2.5 for Washington and got pushed out to +3.5, perhaps on the trade news, before settling in at the current +3.
I think this is way too many points in a game that the bookmakers perhaps gave the traditional home three points for evenly matched teams. We know that stadiums that offer this type of home field impact are few and far between and I give Washington the slight advantage overall given their ability on offense (sometimes).
I make this a 1% play at Washington +3, but would upgrade to 2% with the hook if it becomes available again this week. Don’t be afraid of the moneyline here.