Betting News & Analysis

Sunday Night Football: Steelers-Dolphins betting preview (odds, lines, best bets)

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1), shakes hands with Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) during pregame action against the New England Patriots during NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday in Miami Gardens. New England Patriots V Miami Dolphins 07

Bet Steelers +7.5 at Dolphins: Pittsburgh is a tough SNF projection, but Greenline likes the wide spread that assumes Miami quickly rediscovers offensive prowess after long injury layoff.

Bet Tyreek Hill o6.5 receptions: 25% of targets have been at 20-plus air yards, but 54% come within nine yards of the line of scrimmage.

Miami's pass catchers have the fourth-highest receiving grade against cover 1 or cover 2, and the third-highest EPA per play; Steelers 6th in cover 1 percentage, and 3rd in cover 2.

Last updated: Sun. Oct. 23, 3:00 p.m.

Estimated reading time: 5 mins


• Our prime-time previews pull all the key modeling numbers and simulated outcomes from PFF’s betting tools, including PFF NFL Greenline and the player props tool, which use top-down machine learning models backed by PFF’s exclusive data to derive value when compared to the betting market.

• Let’s dive into the “Sunday Night Football” AFC matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins.

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GAME LINES

With an unclear QB situation magnifying the 23rd-ranked ‘D'  in EPA allowed per play: The Steelers set up as a tough SNF projection. The Week 1 loss of T.J. Watt can’t be understated, as the Steelers have the fourth-lowest pressure rate on non-blitzing dropbacks in the NFL — and they don't really improve when bringing an extra pass rusher.

Pittsburgh is 6th in the NFL in cover 1 percentage, and 3rd in cover 2: Basically, the Steelers refuse to play quarter coverage (only 2.5% of the time), which is the second-lowest rate in the NFL. 

Miami's pass catchers have the fourth-highest receiving grade against cover 1 or cover 2, and the third highest EPA per play: The only real scheme that’s somewhat slowed Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle is the one Pittsburgh refuses to play. Unless Brian Flores and Mike Tomlin cook up some magical solution for Sunday night, it’s entirely possible the Dolphins are running free in a lost secondary. 

If the bullish Dolphins offensive outcome plays out, the question then becomes whether the Steelers can keep pace?

It comes back to Pittsburgh's QB situation: Everything points toward top pick Kenny Pickett getting the nod as the starter, as he's been the much more accurate underneath passer, with Mitch Trubisky more apt to chuck it deep. It’s almost been opposite of expectation, with the veteran quarterback providing a much bumpier ride than the rookie signal caller. 

QB Dropbacks Acc EPA ADOT PACR Positive_Grade_Rate Negative_Grade_Rate BTT TWP run_per_dropback
Mitchell Trubiski 143 68% -0.18 10.06 0.64 24% 17% 5% 2% 2.80%
Kenny Pickett 93 77% -0.06 7.69 0.86 20% 12% 1% 3% 6.45%

PFF Greenline likes the Steelers at +7.5:  And sees the total as too short based on current market expectation. With the most likely path from Greenline laid out, we can either ride with the Steelers pregame, or wait for QB confirmation and tie that into a parlay with the total going over if Trubisky winds up starting. If it's Pickett, this looks like a better spot to play only the Steelers on the spread. 

The Dolphins might run away given the mismatches with Hill vs James Pierre and Waddle vs Levi Wallace: But it’s a wide spread that might bake in too much expectation that Miami quickly rediscovers its early-season prolific production with everyone on offense back in the fold.

Given what we know about offense in 2022, this seems like a greater reach than the betting market is currently pricing in. 

Bet Steelers +7.5  (-115 BetMGM)

PLAYER PROPS

Bet Tyreek Hill — Over 6.5 Receptions (+100 BetMGM)

NFL-best target rate per route run: This might look like a hedge on our Steelers +7.5 ticket, but there are a number of paths to Hill going over his reception prop. He has the second-highest target percentage of any receiver — and by far the NFL's highest target rate per route run.

Route diversity: 25% of Hill's targets have been at 20 plus air yards, but 54% of his targets have also come within nine yards of the line of scrimmage. Simply put, the high-volume is coming in all game scripts, and could even be boosted if the Steelers jump out to an early lead. Miami isn’t taking their foot off the pedal in any game environment, so when Hill’s on the field he is being looked at as the first or second read. With one or two manufactured targets early, expect Hill to easily go over this reception prop number. 

Bet Najee Harris — Under 2.5 Receptions -160

Since Week 5, Jaylen Warren playing over 40% of the offensive snaps, including a route on a higher number of dropbacks than Harris: The vet still has a slightly higher target share, but this could be phased out as we move toward the middle of the Steelers' schedule. It seems like offseason coachspeak is playing out before our eyes, with Harris failing to reach a 70% snap share the past two weeks. 

Whether the Steelers are up early or fall behind too quickly, when Warren is the preferred back: Harris is unlikely to receive the necessary volume in the pass game. And because these seem to be the two likely outcomes given our modeling, this a reasonable minus-price bet.

DERIVATIVE BETS & SAME-GAME PARLAY 

If expecting the Dolphins to immediately return to their early-season form on offense: One of the best ways to play a same-game parlay is by pressing on a concentrated target-volume for their top two pass-catchers: Hill is a league-leader in target volume — and Waddle isn’t far behind.

In a different AFC North matchup back in Week 2 against the Ravens: Waddle finished with 19 targets, and Hill commanded 13, combining for a target share of 64.8%. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we see that happen again, especially given the Steelers' CB weakness, diminishing the volume of the second and third receiver options. That could offer some negative correlation to boost a same-game parlay payout on DraftKings.

• Based on PFF's Player Prop Tool: All four of these props show independent value.

SGP build (Caesars +1600)

• Tyreek Hill o6.5 Receptions

• Jaylen Waddle o5.5 Receptions

• Mike Gesicki u1.5 Receptions

• Raheem Mostert u1.5 Receptions


Ben's TNF preview went 2-1, bringing his season record in this space to 33-43 (-2.57 units).

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