Phins and Loathing in Las Vegas

An overtime thriller broke out on the south side of the strip and finished at 31-28 in favor of the Raiders. The Miami defense lived up to its reputation (for the first half), and Jon Gruden’s offense proved that in today’s NFL, the West is Best.

Like a bat out of hell, the Dolphins defense came out hot on Sunday and shut down a strong opening drive from the Raiders with Elandon Roberts taking an interception 85 yards to the house. The pick extended Miami’s league-leading stretch of consecutive games with a takeaway to 25 and offered early momentum. Vegas didn’t seem to re-enter competition until the concluding moments of the first quarter when they pinned the Dolphins at their own 1 yard line with a beautiful punt. On the ensuing snap, Jalen Waddle was brought down behind the goal line for a safety and it was all Raiders from there.

25 unanswered points carried the Silver and Black to the final nine minutes of regulation where a showcase of grit from backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett took place. He led back-to-back scoring drives for Miami that knotted the game up at 25 and sent it to OT.

Field goals were exchanged, and a home run ball from Derek Carr on the Raiders second overtime possession placed them deep in enemy territory where Daniel Carlson was able to split the uprights again and bring the team to 3-0 for the first time since 2002.

These are two very interesting teams to look out for moving forward. In the East, Miami will likely be a wild-card contender at best with the Bills serving as the heavy favorites in the division. However, they are right behind Kansas City in terms of upside for 1-2 teams in the conference at this point. They are more complete than New England, and simply better than Pittsburgh and Houston. At least one wild-card team will arise from both the North and the West, and possibly all three, but expect the Dolphins to be in tight contention for that third spot come week 17.

Two teams remain undefeated in the AFC, but the Raiders are the only of the two to defeat real football teams to get there. The Broncos going 3-0 against opponents who are a combined 0-9 is eerily resemblant of last years 11-0 Pittsburgh run. Expect them to normalize, or more so, come crashing rapidly back to earth next week against the Ravens. That said, the Raiders are leading one of the most competitive divisions in the league with the Chiefs and Chargers behind them, and they will have an opportunity to prove their position atop the West this week with their first divisional matchup on Monday night in LA.

Miami hosts Indianapolis on Sunday in the early slate. It’s a very ho-hum matchup with points set at 43.5, but the Dolphins at -2.5 is a lock in the weekly parlay against a Colts group that is struggling to identify itself. Monday night is home to the contrary. Over/under is set at 52.5 and the Raiders sit today at +3.5 point dogs on the road. This should be a knock down, drag out brawl between division rivals smelling blood in the water from an ailing Kansas City team who has opened the door to a legitimate shot at the title for the first time in half a decade. The gutsy bettor takes Vegas to cover and cites the excitement prime-time football has provided thus far for reasoning.

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