Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview: Prediction, Best Bets, Odds, Depth Charts (12/31/23)

The Baltimore Ravens (12-3) play host to the Miami Dolphins (11-4) on Sunday (12/31/23) at 1 p.m. EST in a game that could decide the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Betting odds have the Ravens as the favorites at -3.5 against the spread, while the over/under is set at 47 total points.

This article provides Dolphins vs. Ravens analysis, predictions and betting recommendations and explains why the best bet in this matchup is the Ravens against the spread (but only at -3).

Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens Prediction & Best Bet

When these teams met last year, they delivered one of the best games of the season. The Dolphins trailed by 21 points entering the fourth quarter and stormed all the way back to win 42-38. There were 31 total points scored in the fourth quarter alone (28 by Miami), and Tyreek Hill had 142 of his 190 receiving yards in the final frame, including touchdown bombs of 48 and 60 yards.

That game was in Week 2, with much lower stakes. Now the winner will not only clinch their division title but will also take control of the No. 1 seed in the AFC with only one game left to play.

This game could also determine this season’s MVP, as current front runner Lamar Jackson will likely be locked in as an overwhelming favorite with a win, while a Dolphins win could vault Tua Tagovailoa (currently the fourth favorite) or Tyreek Hill (seventh) into the top spot.

The stakes could not possibly be higher.

The matchup also could not be tighter. Both teams are top 4 in DVOA (Ravens first, Dolphins fourth) and net EPA (Ravens second, Dolphins fourth). The Dolphins’ offense is third in both DVOA and EPA, while the Ravens are fourth and sixth, respectively, in those categories. The Ravens’ defense is second in both categories, while the Dolphins’ defense is 15th in DVOA and sixth in EPA.

While the Ravens would seem to have the edge on defense, the Dolphins’ defense has been significantly better since star CB Jalen Ramsey returned in Week 8. Before that, they were 22nd in EPA, and they are second since Ramsey returned. If the Ravens are missing star safety Kyle Hamilton, arguably their best and most important player on defense, then the edge would have to go to the Dolphins on that side of the ball.

Both teams have some interesting trends that make it difficult to handicap this game. The Ravens have struggled at home at times this season. They are just 4-3 against the spread at home, and two of their three losses have come at M&T Bank Stadium. They also needed a stunning walk-off punt return TD in overtime to avoid another loss in their last home game in Week 14 against the Rams.

While the Ravens have struggled at home, the Dolphins have struggled on the road. Three of their four losses have come away from Hard Rock Stadium, and two of those were lopsided defeats against playoff teams (28 points against Buffalo and 14 points against Philadelphia). The Dolphins may have dispelled the notion that they can’t beat good teams by defeating the Cowboys at home last week, but they still do not have any playoff-caliber victories on the road.

Ultimately, it would be very difficult to pick against the Ravens after what they just did to the 49ers on the road. We like the Ravens to win the game, and while at -3.5 we would probably be staying away from the spread in this game, we can still get it at -3 at Caesars and we feel pretty good about that number. If that line is no longer available, we would be focusing on player props instead as the best way to bet on this game.

Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens Prediction & Best Bet: Ravens win 26-23 | Best Bet: Ravens -3 (-120 at Caesars)

Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens Betting Odds

The spread in this game has fluctuated between Ravens -3 and -4. It has settled in at -3.5 at most sportsbooks but as of this writing it’s still available at -3 at BetMGM.

The over/under has ranged from 46.5 to 47.5 and is currently sitting right at 47 points.

The implied outcome of these odds is the Ravens winning 25-22.

Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens Key Injuries

Both teams in this game have some very important players on the injury report whose status is worth monitoring. For the Dolphins, it’s RBs Raheem Mostert and DeVon Achane, RG Robert Hunt, and S Jevon Holland. All of those players are expected to play, with Holland being the most questionable. WR Jaylen Waddle has already been ruled out.

For the Ravens, WR Zay Flowers and S Kyle Hamilton are the most important players to monitor. Both players are expected to play, but likely will not be officially ruled active or inactive until game day.

Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens Key Matchups

Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Dolphins vs. Ravens below.

Miami Dolphins RBs vs. Baltimore Ravens’ run defense

The Dolphins’ explosive passing attack with Tyreek Hill and (except for this week) Jaylen Waddle gets most of the attention. But their rushing attack is just as (if not more) important to their overall success. That will be even more true this week with Waddle missing the game and the Ravens being dominant against the pass.

The Ravens are first in DVOA, 2nd in EPA and 3rd in success rate against the pass, while they are 10th, 18th and 17th, respectively, in those same categories against the run. The Dolphins should be able to run the ball against them, and that will be a critical part of their game plan.

DeVon Achane leads the league in explosive run rate and in yards after contact per attempt, and he is second in missed tackles forced per attempt. Raheem Mostert is sixth, 11th, and 15th, respectively, in those same categories. The Ravens can be vulnerable against explosive runs (10+ yards). Over the last six weeks, they are allowing the 14th-highest explosive run rate.

If Miami’s dynamic backfield duo can break off a few explosives in this game, that could be enough to swing a tight matchup.

Lamar Jackson vs. Dolphins’ defensive front

The Ravens need an MVP-caliber performance from Lamar Jackson to avoid a letdown and clinch the No. 1 seed. It’s a very tough matchup for Jackson, as the Dolphins’ defense has been excellent over the second half of the season. Since Week 11 they have allowed the lowest passer rating in the league, and they are also fifth in yards per attempt allowed and sixth in completion percentage over expected.

Of course, Jackson’s secret weapon will always be his mobility and the ability to pick up large chunks of yardage on the ground. He is first in rushing yards and fourth in rushing TDs among quarterbacks. But the Dolphins have been excellent at containing mobile QBs this season. Josh Allen was the best running QB they faced, and he gained only 17 yards on four carries.

Overall, Miami has allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards to opposing signal callers this season. However, they have also given up six rushing TDs to QBs, tied for 5th most in the league. Their ability to slow down Jackson’s rushing will be a huge factor in this game, and if they can do that effectively they will have a much better chance at pulling off the upset.

Miami Dolphins Depth Chart

QB: Tua Tagovailoa
RB1: Raheem Mostert
RB2: Devon Achane
LWR: Tyreek Hill
RWR: Jaylen Waddle
SWR: Braxton Berrios
TE1: Durham Smythe

Baltimore Ravens Depth Chart

QB: Lamar Jackson
RB1: Gus Edwards
RB2: Justice Hill
LWR: Odell Beckham Jr.
RWR: Rashod Bateman
SWR: Zay Flowers
TE1: Isaiah Likely

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Noah hails from Philadelphia and is a diehard Philly sports fan. He graduated from Penn where he was a sports writer and editor for the student newspaper and also spent a summer covering the Baltimore Orioles for MLB.com. He has been playing fantasy sports since before live stats were a thing, and he has enjoyed learning the nuances of DFS in recent years. As a current resident of Florida, he is hoping the wave of sports betting legalization will eventually reach his home state.

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