A huge Week 17 matchup between the Miami Dolphins (11-4) and Baltimore Ravens (12-3) will be a battle for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. It will also serve as a stage for two of the AFC MVP candidates to shine.
While Lamar Jackson will be out to continue his claim on the prize following a big win over the San Francisco 49ers, Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins look to once again show they can compete and beat the big boys.
Miami Dolphins have the most to prove in AFC battle with Baltimore Ravens
Following a win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16, the Dolphins can get the upper hand on the Ravens for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs while keeping the Buffalo Bills a game behind them in the AFC East. With a loss and a Bills win on Sunday, the NFL regular season finale will be a battle for the division. Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel knows his team must be locked in on this one and sees no letdown ahead for his team following the big win against the Cowboys.
"This one was really easy, just because you know the challenge,” McDaniel said when against on his team’s approach this week. “You know you have a high regard for the team you're playing. The opportunity to play the NFL's best is just that for us. We're excited about that opportunity because as competitors, that's what we want to do. We want to go against the best and put our best foot forward and see how it plays out … There was a lot of excitement about the win, but once Wednesday started, the Dallas game could have been two or three months previous for all the players' concerns. They have been locked in at the task at hand."
So, again a big storyline this week for the Dolphins will be if they can step up to the challenge against a Super Bowl contender. If so, they will have to do it without running back Raheem Mostert and star receiver Jaylen Waddle.
As for the Ravens, the storyline is simple. Win and secure their status as the team to beat in the AFC as well as a Super Bowl favorite with their current Super Bowl odds at +425 according to BETMGM.
Miami Dolphins vs Baltimore kickoff details: How to watch, betting odds
Date: Sunday, December 31, 2023
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: Baltimore, MD
Venue: M&T Bank Stadium
Live Stream: Fubo TV (try for free)
Betting Odds: Baltimore Ravens -3.5 (via DraftKings)
Dolphins player props: Bet Tyreek Hill Under 94.5 receiving yards
The physicality of the Ravens’ defense will be a challenge for Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ offense, especially without Mostert and Waddle. With those players ruled out, the Ravens will make someone besides Tyreek Hill beat them which will force Tua to key in on other targets.
While Hill did have success against the Baltimore defense a season ago, Ravens cornerback Marcus Williams says his team is locked in on limiting the explosive ability of Hill.
“We’re not worried about what happened last year,” Williams said, via AtoZ Sports. “We’re just focused on what we do. We’re working on our job. If we do our job, we’ll eliminate the explosive plays; we’ll eliminate them catching the ball and come out with a win.”
Hill will get his, but it’s hard to predict him having a big game against a Ravens team flying high towards locking down the No. 1 seed in the AFC, especially at M&T Bank Stadium.
Ravens player props: Bet Lamar Jackson longest completion Over 36.5
The Dolphins will be locked in on limiting Lamar Jackson, but his ability to make plays with his legs and arms will eventually put a dagger in the Dolphins’ defense. In this bold prediction, Jackson will extend a play and complete a long completion of over 35 yards to either Odell Beckham Jr. or rookie receiver Zay Flowers.
In all, the MVP favorite will have his typical game which Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio praised this week. Talk about greatness, the Ravens quarterback is providing the definition of such from the quarterback position.
"The pure definition of a great quarterback is there's no one way to play him," Fangio said of Jackson, as transcribed by CBS Sports. "Because if there was, everybody would do it. So you just have to mix up what you're doing. Along the way, they have a hell of a run game. Both from the players ability -- O-line, tight ends, runners -- and the scheme of it with Lamar at the helm makes it a difficult task. There's a lot to prepare for, a lot to defend in this offense."
Fangio and the Dolphins will have to pick their position when it comes to limiting Jackson. The best bet may be to keep him in the pocket, but with the weapons he now has, Jackson is very capable of completing explosive plays down the field with his arm.
GameDay Prediction: This one could be either a defensive slugfest or a track meet as the Ravens and Dolphins have game-changing players on both sides of the ball. In this AFC showdown for the top spot in the conference, expect a little bit of both. Both teams will do a good job of limiting the opposing offenses in the first half, but the second half will feature too much Lamar Jackson as the Ravens eventually pull away and secure their hold of the conference: Baltimore Ravens 24, Miami Dolphins 13.