Dolphins-Saints best bets: Tua, Miami gun for 7th straight win
Here's how we're betting Dolphins-Saints:
C Jackson Cowart: Under 37.5
Totals below 40 used to be commonplace in the NFL before the offensive boom of the mid-2010s. So when you see a game priced this low, it's worth pouncing. Since 2017, the under is a stellar 13-4 with a total below 38, which includes a 7-1 run in the last eight instances.
It's the first time we've seen such a low number this season, but it's certainly deserved - particularly because of the hosts. The Saints have allowed a combined nine points over the last two weeks and own the No. 4 defense per DVOA, but their offense has been suspect even before losing their top three QB options to injury and the COVID-19 reserve list.
That leaves Book to make his first career start in prime time, and the rookie will have his hands full against the Dolphins' swarming defense. Miami has recorded a league-leading 25 sacks during its six-game winning streak, including a season-high six sacks a week ago. Points will be at a premium in this one.
Alex Moretto: Dolphins -3
It's hard to know how to value an unknown commodity in this league, but Sean Payton may have helped us out a bit. Book was fourth in line to start games for the Saints this season, not getting anywhere close to seeing the field until the team's hand was forced. It doesn't instill confidence in Book ahead of a tough matchup with a blitz-happy defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints are playing great defense, but the Dolphins' offense is a very underrated unit. Tua Tagovailoa doesn't get anywhere near the credit he deserves for the success he's found running an offense with a bad offensive line and minimal weapons. He'll have DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle available for this one - a rarity this season - while Myles Gaskin and Duke Johnson could form quite the interesting tandem out of the backfield.
Brian Flores has done a really nice job rallying the Dolphins from a miserable first half of the season. This team is playing excellent football on both sides and lucks out a bit here getting to feast on Book, so expect Miami to win a seventh straight and move into a tie for the final wild-card spot.
Matt Russell: Dolphins -3
The value quickly got sucked out of this one, didn't it? Dolphins +3 was going to be one of my best bets of the week, and I was ready to bet the moneyline at +140 as well. Then COVID-19 hit the Saints' quarterback room, and now Book gets the start in New Orleans.
The former Notre Dame record holder isn't ready for NFL defenses, and it will look worse than when Book had to step up against the likes of Clemson and Alabama in college. If he was a legitimate candidate to start for the Saints, he already would have in lieu of Trevor Siemian.
The Dolphins will dial up all of the blitzes they've used to get back into the playoff race in the last two months. Miami will leave the Saints rookie confused and will read him like ... a book.
Meanwhile, Tagovailoa works a more conservative, quick drop-back offense than even Tom Brady, and the Dolphins won't need much scoring to stretch a lead Monday night.