Will the Dolphins Struggle Without Ryan Tannehill?

On Sunday afternoon, Andrew Franks drilled a 21-yard field goal as time expired to help the Miami Dolphins beat the Arizona Cardinals, 26-23. The victory marked the Dolphins seventh win in their past eight games, however, the victory was marred by a key injury as quarterback Ryan Tannehill left the game in the third quarter following a low hit from Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell.

It’s tough to overlook the improved play from the offensive line and the recent emergence of running back Jay Ajayi, but Tannehill has also been instrumental in the Dolphins success this season. In 13 games, Tannehill has shown improved efficiency with 2,995 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and a career-high 67.1% completion percentage.

Although many initially feared the severity of his injury, the team received good news on Monday when it was announced Tannehill would not require season-ending surgery. Tannehill was diagnosed with ACL and MCL sprains in his left knee and, although the team doesn’t have an exact timetable for his recovery, Tannehill is expected to miss at least the next few games.

With Tannehill sidelined, backup quarterback Matt Moore will take over the offense this week as Dolphins take on the Jets. This may seem like a major drop-off, but Moore has proven himself capable in the past. Moore hasn’t started an NFL game in nearly five years, but his teams have gone 13-11 straight up (SU) and 18-6 against the spread (ATS) in 24 games as a starter. For comparison, Tannehill has gone 7-5-1 ATS this season but only 35-40-2 ATS all-time.

Prior to Tannehill’s injury, the Dolphins were listed as 3.5-point favorites against the Jets on the lookahead line at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. When the line was actually released on Sunday evening, the Dolphins opened as 3-point favorites — although it was quickly bet down to -2.5. Based on that line movement, many bettors may speculate that the downgrade from Tannehill to Moore is only worth one point. That’s not entirely true.

When those lookahead lines were posted on December 6, sportsbooks were unsure whether Ryan Fitzpatrick or Bryce Petty would be the Jets starting quarterback. Although Fitzpatrick has struggled this season, the oddsmakers I have spoken with still believe that Petty is a considerable downgrade from Fitzy. In fact, just last week we saw a two-point line move when Petty was announced as the starter.

When we take that into consideration, we find that Tannehill is actually worth 2-3 points to the spread. That figure falls in line with earlier analysis, which concluded that Tannehill is a Tier 4 quarterback valued at 2-4 points on the spread.

Prior to Tannehill’s injury, the Dolphins were listed at 100/1 to win Super Bowl 51 at the Westgate Superbook. Despite losing Tannehill, the Dolphins are now 60/1 to win the Super Bowl. This indicates that the outcome of last week’s game is far more significant than Tannehill’s injury.

The Dolphins are currently receiving 64% of spread tickets and 67% of spread dollars. Assuming this level of one-sided public betting continues, it will be interesting to see whether sportsbooks move the line from Miami -2.5 to -3. For the latest odds, betting trends, injury updates and more, bettors can check out our free NFL odds page.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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