NFL Betting: Can Dolphins Win Without Ryan Tannehill?

by Kevin Roberts
on August 7, 2017

The Miami Dolphins had high hopes heading into the 2017 NFL regular season. The team went 11-5 and pushed their way into the playoffs a year ago and with a healthy Ryan Tannehill back under center, they were trending upward as a possible Super Bowl sleeper.

Now that optimism has hit a wall.

Tannehill entered the year with knee brace to protect a partial tear he sustained in his ACL last year, but an awkward slip up in practice has Tannehill’s 2017 status seemingly up in the air. No decision has been made yet, but head coach Adam Gase admitted that surgery is being discussed as an option:

Should Tannehill’s knee injury result in surgery, he’d almost certainly be done for the season. If it comes to that, the Dolphins would take a serious hit and be at risk of falling out of the playoff picture.

Next Man Up

As things stand, the Dolphins have been hesitant to opt for surgery, as they probably are still holding out hope that Tannehill can make it back at some point this year. Miami was understandably at their best with Tannehill under center in 2016, so that line of thinking makes perfect sense.

If Tannehill stays down for any amount of time, Miami could have a difficult time racking up wins. The team would be forced to turn to backup Matt Moore, who did go 2-2 as the starter to close out last season but isn’t regarded as a high upside option.

Needless to say, the Dolphins would be pushed into a run-heavy rushing attack. That could put unwanted pressure on star running back Jay Ajayi, who already is a health risk after suffering a concussion recently. Miami had also suggested during the offseason that they’d prefer to keep Ajayi from being overworked during the regular season.

If Moore is the guy for more than a few weeks, Miami is probably in trouble. They can still edge out the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets with Moore, but topping the New England Patriots feels impossible and locking down a wild card spot would naturally be a reach.

Better Options?

Depending on how long Tannehill would be out, the team may end up deciding to turn to free agency to maximize their upside at the position.

Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has already emerged as a possible candidate to take over, while Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo are all big name passers that could ultimately turn a devastating situation around.

Cutler stands out the most at first glance, seeing as Gase spent time with him in Chicago.

Not surprisingly, Cutler’s best season came in Gase’s lone year in the Windy City, where Cutler tossed 21 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions.

While Cutler joined Romo in the retirement ranks this offseason, the door may not be completely shut on a return. Cutler is still arguably in his prime at just 34 years old and considering he knows Gase and the system, he could potentially fit in seamlessly. In fact, given his experience and talent, an argument could be made he’d be the perfect replacement plan and in a lot of ways, perhaps even an upgrade over Tannehill.

Betting on the Dolphins

Miami wasn’t a major title contender even with a completely healthy Ryan Tannehill under center. Over at Bovada they held just +5000 odds to win it all. Playing in the AFC East (where Miami has just +500 odds to win the division) obviously hurts their chances, while the rival Patriots are also the odds on favorite to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Betting on the Dolphins doesn’t have to be just about the Super Bowl, though. NFL bettors can still make cash by gauging how many wins Miami will have or how they will fare weekly in individual games. Top NFL betting sites have understandably removed Dolphins season win bets, while based on the Ryan Tannehill injury news that comes out, we can expect other Dolphins bets to be adjusted, as well.

Looking at week one, the Dolphins welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to town. At Bovada this bet is currently locked, as we all wait to see how Tannehill’s injury plays out. For now, the Bucs enter as mild +1 underdogs, which is fair because nobody really knows what to make of the Buccaneers yet and winning on the road in South Beach isn’t easy.

Even with Matt Moore at the helm, taking the Dolphins here isn’t a terrible idea.

They are still well-coached, Moore can be a steady presence and Jay Ajayi fuels a beastly rushing attack. That being said, if Tannehill is slated to miss this game, we probably only want Miami if they end up being the underdog. This still isn’t a terrible spot to take them, though, as this game is currently looked at as a pick’em.

If Tannehill is healthy and doesn’t miss much time, Miami is still an interesting sleeper to make the playoffs and maybe even push for the top of the AFC East. New England’s hold on the division has been pretty dominant, though, so even with a healthy Tannehill that was always going to feel like a reach.

For now, the Dolphins look like they’ll be without Tannehill for at least a few weeks, and possibly the entire season. If Tannehill is ruled out for the year, Miami’s odds will dip across the board and we’ll have to shift our betting stance on a per game basis. If they bring in Jay Cutler or another viable replacement, it could have a positive impact on how we look at their odds, however. If not, it’s really tough to have much faith in a career backup option like Moore. Naturally, our backing of the Dolphins should waver accordingly.

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