AFC Wild Card – Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins Pick

NFL Playoff Preview  
Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at Miami Dolphins (11-5) 
Sunday, 1:00PM Eastern 
 
Bookmaker.com betting line – Baltimore -3, 37.5 O/U 
 
A pair of AFC teams with identical regular season records square off Sunday in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. Miami clinched the AFC East with their win over the Jets last week while the Ravens clinched the final wildcard spot with a victory over the Jaguars. The Baltimore Ravens will travel to Florida to battle with the Miami Dolphins for the second time this season. Earlier this season, the Ravens beat the Dolphins in Miami by a final score of 27-13. However, since that lost the Miami Dolphins stormed back to win 4 straight games and 9 of their last 10 becoming one of the hottest AFC teams at seasons end. The Dolphins look to extract a little revenge this time around when they host the Ravens this Sunday. 
 
Miami has been the biggest turn-around team perhaps in NFL history. The Dolphins won only one single game a year ago barely escaping a winless season. This year things are very different as Miami has been striving in their last 10 games and are poised to make a run in the postseason. Dolphins QB Chad Pennington has played a major role in the success this season. Pennington has completed 67% of his passes this season which places him as the most efficient passer in the NFL this season. Pennington has also racked up 3,653 yards this season along with 19 touchdowns. The Dolphins have become a very effective offensive force and they will need another big performance against a stout Baltimore defense. Miami has played solid defense as well down the stretch contributing to their great run. The Dolphins are only allowing 14 points per game in their last 5 match-ups. Both sides of the ball will have to play stellar this Sunday in a colossal first round battle. 
 
Baltimore QB Joe Flacco has had a good year in his rookie campaign. The youngster has thrown for 2,971 yards this season with 14 touchdowns. Flacco has been picked off 12 times this year and the rookie will try to limit his mistakes despite not having any postseason experience. The Baltimore running game has been solid this season behind the legs of running back Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee. The two backs have combined for 1500 yards of rushing this season along with 17 touchdowns. The big factor in this game will not be the Baltimore offense, but rather the play of the defense. The Ravens have the 2nd best defense in the NFL behind the lucrative Pittsburgh defense. The Ravens rank in the top 3 in all 4 major defensive categories. Baltimore will wreak havoc on the Miami offense Sunday and they will try to shut down the Dolphins and continue their late season surge. 
 
What to watch for… 
Turnovers are the category that many people do not preview, but it could be a big factor in Sunday’s game. Both teams have been subject to turnover problems at one point or another this season. Ravens QB Joe Flacco has been really suspect to interception problems and can not afford to give the ball away to the Dolphins. Also, the running game was a big factor in the first match between these two opponents. Willis McGahee led the Ravens to a +100 yard performance while Miami leading rushing had only a mere 27 yards on the ground. Keep an eye on the ground attack. 
 
Pick – Baltimore defense got it done earlier this season and I believe they will again. Take Baltimore -3.

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