Saturday, October 22, 2016


Sorry for getting this up late this week as I had some family functions to attend too. The college picks have been strong for the year and we have made a lot of money with them. Let's continue to make money this week.

COLLEGE GAMES                           (HOME Team in CAPS)

ALABAMA -16.5 over Texas A&M
I hate Nick Saban but Bama is for real and Texas A&M to me is a bit overrated this year. Bama at home laying a little over 2 touchdowns is easy pickings.

Wisconsin -3.5 over IOWA
Wisconsin has had a killer schedule this year and they have survived only losing games to the very good teams on their schedule. Iowa is still.....well Iowa. Lay the 3.5 points and take Wisconsin here.

MINNESOTA -18 over Rutgers
I can't stress enough how bad Rutgers is as a football team and program right now. They played a game, yes a full 4 quarter conference game and only has 22 total yards of offense. Minnesota is sneaky good and will lay the smack down on Rutgers. Give me Minnesota



CINCINNATTI -10.5 over Cleveland
The Browns haven't won a game all year but they hang tight and "almost" win every week. That ends this week. I think the Bengals who are having a disappointing season will snap out of it and beat up their state rival pretty good here.

Tampa Bay +1 over SAN FRANCISCO
I think this game will be a shoot out and give me Tampa as they have the better skill position players and San Fran is dreadful.

Baltimore +2 over the NY JETS
Geno Smith......Geno Smith on a short week. Enough said, give me the Ravens.


Monday, October 17, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Reshad Jones Possibly Out for Remainder of the Season

Multiple outlets are reporting that Reshad Jones tore his rotator cuff in yesterday's win over the Steelers and will most likely miss the rest of the season. More tests are being done on Jones at this time but the outlook doesn't look good.

If Jones is out the rest of the way the Dolphins would be down their two best players in the secondary with Xavien Howard and Jones. Howard is expected back by early to mid-November. Expect Michael Thomas or Walt Aikens to step in and replace Jones in the starting lineup. Aikens was late for a team meeting this past week and Adam Gase decided not to make him active for yesterday's game. The Dolphins also have safety AJ Hendy on the practice squad as well and one would expect he would get a call up to the main roster. Hendy played well in training camp and in preseason games but it was mainly against 2nd and 3rd stringers. I would also expect the Dolphins to look to add a safety via free agency as well for depth purposes should Jones be out for the rest of the way.

As we get more details on the Reshad Jones injury we will give you an update.

UPDATE: It was announced today that Reshad Jones will miss the remainder of the season

The Miami Dolphins upset the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-15: Film Study

The 4-1 Pittsburgh Steelers rolled into Miami Gardens, Florida to face the 1-4 Miami Dolphins. The following is my reaction to the game after watching the game live Sunday and then re-watching the game in its entirety Monday morning. Follow @TomLikeFootball on Twitter.

The narrative throughout the week
The Dolphins were coming off an incredibly embarrassing 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, which I wrote about. Head Coach Adam Gase continued his tough approach as he cut Offensive Linemen Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas. All three were reasonably high draft picks by previous regimes. If you read my piece last week you will understand why Coach Gase cut Turner and Thomas. Side-note: running back Isaiah Pead was also cut this week.

Some other headlines heading into week 6 were the injuries to RB Arian Foster and SS Reshad Jones; both were game-time decisions. The Miami Dolphins filled plenty of press columns this week as many within the media debated whether Miami was the worst or at a minimum, a bottom three team in the NFL. Many also questioned the play of Ryan Tannehill, however, Head Coach Adam Gase said it was impossible to evaluate Tannehill until the Dolphins did a better job in pass protection. One final side note was that Defensive Co-Ordinator Vance Joseph came out questioning Mario Williams and his effort level through the first five weeks. Déjà vu from his time in Buffalo last season?

On the Pittsburgh side, the Steelers looked set to lose a few key starters to injury. The Steelers would be without DE, Cameron Heyward; LB, Ryan Shazier as well as starting RT Marcus Gilbert and WR Markus Wheaton. Yet, most of the talk was concerning Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his impressive play through weeks 4 and 5.

Stats heading into the game
Entering the game, Roethlisberger had 680 yards, 9 TDs, 0 INTs in his last two appearances as he looked to square off against a Miami Dolphins Defense that has struggled massively through the first five weeks. Roethlisberger had 15 passing touchdowns after five weeks, a franchise record to start the season. The Miami Dolphins were 31st in the NFL averaging only 72.4 rushing yards per game. Alongside this the Dolphins had given up a league high 150.8 rushing yards a game after five weeks. Le’Veon Bell for the Steelers averaged 105.0 yards over his first two weeks returning from suspension. The Miami Dolphins were also ranked tied-30th in sacks allowed and 30th in Quarterback hits surrendered. The Stats overwhelmingly favoured Pittsburgh and with the Dolphins Defense fielding the most snaps and minutes of any Defense around the League; it is clear that for the Dolphins to stand any chance they needed to get off the field on Defense and sustain drives on Offense.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins, Week 6
For Miami the goals were simple heading into Week 6. To stand any chance of beating the Pittsburgh Steelers they needed to:
  • Protect the franchise – Keep Ryan Tannehill clean
  • Establish the run game
  • Get the Defense off the field
  • Keep it third and manageable
  • Dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball

I always believe that the very first play of the game (on Offense or Defense) is indicative of what is to follow. The Steelers first play was a 4 yard run and afterwards we saw Miami Safety Reshad Jones clashing with Steelers WR Cobi Hamilton. The Dolphins were fired up for this game and after the cuts/ purges Gase made this week, players knew they were playing for not only their starting positions, but their jobs (a few we can make an exception for and yes Jones is one of them). But the point still stands. Miami was physical and looked to dominate the line of scrimmage defensively as the Dolphins had two run stuffs for less than two yards before a 3rd & 6 where Cam Wake (who started at DE and needs to start the remainder of the season) and Ndamukong Suh showcased their incredible first steps and penetration as they caused terror in the backfield and caused Big Ben to spike the ball.

Jay Ajayi motioned out of the backfield on the first offensive play as the Dolphins went with an empty back set (like they did two weeks earlier against Cincinnati), however, the play ended with a penalty against RT Ja’Wuan James as he moved an opponent off the pile and drew a flag. Landry picked up a first down on 2nd & 20 by turning a 5 yard reception into a 20 yard gain before extra-curricula’s occurred along the Dolphins side-line resulting in Pittsburgh drawing a flag. Steelers Safety Mike Mitchell was in trouble all game as he got into it with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Kenyan Drake. The Dolphins played with energy and were physical during the opening possession; something Coach Gase had been preaching all week.

(Steve Mitchell/ USA TODAY Sports)
(Steve Mitchell/ USA TODAY Sports)

Jay Ajayi rattled off a nice 12-yard pick up as he stiff-armed a Pittsburgh defender to move the chains. The very next play should have been a touchdown, however, DeVante Parker was unable to pull in the football as Tannehill took a shot down field after great pass protection following play action. The next play was a great precursor of what was to come in this game as Jay Ajayi picked up 11 yards off a perfectly executed run play.

Miami is in a simple single-set back formation, however, the key to this play is LT Branden Albert and TE Dion Sims (The two yellow arrows below the long red line) sealing the edge. If they manage to seal the edge then the double block by Center Mike Pouncey and LG Laremy Tunsil should create a running lane (red box) for Jay Ajayi to exploit resulting in positive yardage.


For this play to be extremely successful the Dolphins need to seal the edge, double block to create the hole and then LG Laremy Tunsil needs to kick out and block the Steelers lone Linebacker in the second level. As you can see below the Dolphins seal the edge, Tunsil kicks out and manages to let Ajayi get into the second level untouched before WR Kenny Stills does a great job blocking down field to allow Ajayi to pick up the first down.





The Dolphins eventually kick a Field Goal on their first offensive possession, and do a nice job of establishing the run. The Dolphins then make the bold decision to kick an onside kick, which is recovered by Pittsburgh, yet Miami gets to retake kick off as the officials were not in place prior to the kick.

The Dolphins first sack of the day is waved off due to 2 flags on the Defense (one on CB Bryon Maxwell and the other on Defensive Linemen Jason Jones). However, this play was a huge positive for Miami in terms of their pass rush managing to get home. DEs Cam Wake and Andrew Branch went to work on the outside while DT Ndamukong Suh collapsed the pocket in the middle. It is 3rd & 10, an obvious passing down, Miami is in 2 man, however, they have two linebackers lined up either side of the Center showing a double A gap blitz (The Vikings run this a lot). This causes confusion, as Pittsburgh is required to adjust and assign blockers in case Miami does indeed bring 6 blitzers. The Dolphins are, however, in 2 Man and the LBs lined up either side of the Center are in man coverage. The confusion this causes is further exacerbated as Jason Jones rushes inside, while Suh initiates contact and then stunts to the outside (as demonstrated by the yellow arrows).


The Dolphins are in press coverage on the outside and are also in the nickel (McCain is playing in the slot) which should allow Miami more time to get home as it takes longer for Steelers receivers to gain separation. The yellow line clearly illustrates Suh’s stunt while we can see that Wake is having success at the bottom of the screen as he has already rounded the Steelers Tight End who is left in the backfield to chip block him.


Below Suh is highlighted as he has managed to peel off the Guards block, while the pocket is collapsing around Roethlisberger as he desperately tries to find a receiver down field. The fact that the ball was snapped as the clock was winding down allowed the Dolphins D-Line to get off at the next sound and therefore get a quick first step on the Steelers O-Line.



The next play was a 60 yard end around which resulted in a Pittsburgh Touchdown as Miami missed tackles and Steelers Darrius Heyward-Bey was simply too physical. The Steelers capped this off with a successful two point conversion. The Dolphins trailed 8-3 and could have got off the field if not for a costly penalty.

The Dolphins went three and out the following possession before again having a huge sack on 3rd & 10. Miami are again in 2 Man with press coverage, yet this time End Andre Branch is standing up rather than in his normal stance. It is an obviously passing down with the clock winding down allowing Miami’s D-Line to pin back it’s ears and tear up field on the next snap.


As the play develops it becomes apparent that LB Kiko Alonso who is playing man coverage on the RB is being picked up by the Steelers LT as they believe he is blitzing, while they have left a TE to lone block Cameron Wake. A very big mistake.


Wake managed to gain leverage and veer the Steelers TE as he cannons towards Big Ben, before meeting fellow DE Andrew Branch at the Quarterback.



A quick look at Cameron’s Wake ability to convert speed to power and his use of handwork demonstrates why he is such a force in this league. Wake gets out of his sprinter stance early and uses his long arms to get underneath Pittsburgh’s assigned blocker. Look at how Wake manages to get his right arm underneath Jesse James’ armpit allowing him to pull James away from him while he then swipes the right arm underneath before using left to again pull James away from the spot Wake is looking to occupy as he looks to accelerate around the corner.


In the picture below you can see Wake now has his left arm on James. His lower body control is phenomenal as he continually drives his feet round the corner as he uses his hands to rip away the blocker while driving round the corner and towards the Quarterback.


Cameron Wake may be 34 years old, but he has been doing this at a high level for a long time.
Cameron Wake may be 34 years old, but he has been doing this at a high level for a long time.

The next offensive possession sees Tannehill deal a 53-yard strike downfield to TE MarQueis Gray. Tannehill is hit on the play, however, manages to roll out left and keep his eyes down field before connecting with his TE on the deep ball. The next play Miami scores a Touchdown, however, this is chalked off following a silly penalty as two Dolphins TEs fail to cover James at RT resulting in an illegal formation penalty. Miami has to settle for a FG.
The very next play was a huge turning point in the game as not only does Reshad Jones make a ridiculous interception catch to set up Miami on Pittsburgh’s 13; but Ben Roethlisberger is also injured on the play. Miami again settles for a Field Goal on this possession as they take the lead in the turnover battle and the game. 9-8 Miami.
The Dolphins are able to stop a Landry Jones led Pittsburgh and managed to score a touchdown as a 38-yard hook up with Jarvis Landry moves Miami close to Pittsburgh’s End Zone. Damien Williams lined up at FB and managed to run the ball in before LB Lawrence Timmons brought up his lunch in the End Zone. I’m sure you have all seen the vine.

16-8 Miami at the Half.

The Miami Dolphins were impressive out of the half as Ajayi again rattled off a big run following Sims and Stills setting the edge with RG Jermon Bushrod coming round as lead blocker (This will be last film study of this article). The Dolphins are in a man block run where TE Sims and WR Stills will set the edge, before RG Bushrod will kick out left and run behind the line of scrimmage before acting as a lead blocker down field.


As you can see from the image below, Stills and Sims set the edge while Bushrod makes his way round the line of scrimmage to act as lead blocker.


The Dolphins hold their blocks and Ajayi is down the outside untouched as he looks to rattle off another big run.


The Dolphins ended this drive with a blocked Field Goal; yet, Miami quickly got the ball back as Isa Abdul-Quddus picked of Roethlisberger for his second interception of the afternoon. This next drive Ajayi again has a nice 32 yard pick up on an Outside Zone run. The Dolphins got to Pittsburgh’s 1-yard line before Tannehill audibled and changed the play at the line of scrimmage, resulting in a 1 yard Jay Ajayi touchdown run. At the end of the Third Quarter, Miami led 23-8 and had 221 passing yards to Pittsburgh’s 53. The Dolphins then missed a 50-yard Field Goal wide left, before Byron Maxwell broke up 2nd and 3rd down pass attempts aimed towards Antonio Brown.

The Dolphins Offense was impressive in the fourth quarter and one play I particularly liked came on 3rd & 1. Tannehill was rolling out on a reverse bootleg and clearly had the yard with his legs, yet kept his eyes down field and showed great patience and timing as he connected with his TE on a 19 yard pick up. Coach Gase displayed good situational and intelligent coaching as he elected to punt on Pittsburgh’s 36 yard-line on a 4th & 8 rather than try a 54-yard Field Goal. This pinned the Steelers on their own 3-yard line with only 4:20 left in the game. The Steelers scored a TD on this drive, however, it massively burned the clock down before Jarvis Landry recovered the onside kick. 1st & 10 on Miami’s 38, they need just one first down the seal the game. The Dolphins managed to set the edge and with a great kick out block, Jay Ajayi goes 62 yards for the knock out punch touchdown as Miami upsets the massively favoured Pittsburgh Steelers.

Closing Thoughts
Jay Ajayi has a historic day as he has the 3rd highest single game rushing total in franchise history (204 yards; behind Ricky Williams’ 216 and 228). The Dolphins were physical, aggressive, angry and played tough football which saw them dominate both lines of scrimmage. The Dolphins managed to generate a decent pass rush with just their four defensive linemen and I believe Andre Branch and Cam Wake should be starting ahead of Mario Williams. Byron Maxwell had his best game as a Dolphins as he surrendered only four catches for 29 yards the eight times he was targeted. Jay Ajayi was a bell cow in the backfield which opened up lanes in the passing game for Ryan Tannehill to exploit. Head Coach Adam Gase and his coaching staff did a good job game planning as Tannehill was kept clean while Ajayi’s touches allowed him to get into a rhythm offensively. A great and much needed win for Miami as they are now 2-4 on the season and look ahead to a week 7 division game at home against the red hot Buffalo Bills.

Matt Freed/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(Matt Freed/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Game-Ball on Offense: Jay Ajayi, RB
Game-Ball on Defense: Byron Maxwell, CB

-Tom Like

Friday, October 14, 2016

Week 6 preview: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins

Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) @ Miami Dolphins
Hard Rock Stadium
Kickoff 1PM

Announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

The struggling Miami Dolphins welcome in the high powered Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at The Rock.  This game has the makings of a major beat down based on how things line up.  The Steelers have scored 74 points in their last two games, after the return of Le'veon Bell.  The Miami Dolphins have struggled to reach 88 points through their first 5 games.

After an embarrassing home defeat last week at the hand of the Titans, the Dolphins look to bounce back.  If you are looking for a bit of good news, the Dolphins expect Branden Albert and Laremy Tunsil to start for the first time in 3 weeks together.  Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner, both whom were released (finally), were absolutely awful last week in fill in role.  I expect a little bit better of a game up front this week, with the starting offensive line finally together since week 3 of the pre-season.  Arian Foster is expected to start this week as well.

Now to write about the elephant in the room, Ryan Tannehill.  He has not been good this season except for the 2nd half of the Patriots game.  Time is running out and this is a game he needs to be aggressive and move the offense.  When fans are chanting for Matt Moore, your leash has become tighter.  But, it also goes for the OL to protect him and Adam Gase come in and give Tannehill what he needs to be successful (bootlegs, move the pocket, throw on the run and run read options).  This is what made him successful in his previous seasons and his legs need to be used to add an element to this offense, who is struggling mightily. 

Here are the keys to the game this week:

1.  Keep the Steelers offense off the field-  This is imperative.  Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and Sammie Coates pose major match up problems with the Dolphins secondary.  With Reshad Jones questionable to play with a groin injury, the offense need to FINALLY hold the ball for 30 minutes in game.  Establish the run, hit your throws and create space to open up the offense and put up points.  This game is going to hinge on all things offensively. 

2.  Can the defense show up?- The defense has continued its struggles and it seems nothing is there to fix it.  The secondary is still struggling every week, the LB'ers cannot clean up the tackles and the DE's get no pass rush. Big Ben and co will look to exploit this defense.  Dolphins need to clean up many issues that have plagued them this season to be able to keep this close.

3.  Get creative with RT-  As I mentioned earlier, Adam Gase needs to let Tannehill be Tannehill.  Run the ball when the pocket collapses, read options and bootlegs.  If you want this offense to move, let the QB move.  I hope we see this on Sunday.

4.  Win in the trenches-  This should be a given every week but with the starting OL finally together for the first time all season, they need to dominate up front.  Steelers are missing a few key players on their DL.  Create lanes for the backs and protect on pass plays.

5.  Jarvis Landry please!-  He is an absolute nightmare for opposing teams.  After a season low 3 targets last week, this is redemption week.  On top of that, the rest of the WR group need to win their 1 on 1 battles.  But it begins with Landry.  Get him the ball early and often will open it up for Parker and Stills.

I shot myself in the foot last week with thinking the Dolphins were going to beat the Titans and get back on track.  The Steelers just win too many match ups offensively and the Dolphins offense show no signs of getting on track.  Steelers take this one easy.

Steelers 34  Dolphins 20

Season Record (3-2)

Jim Nantz Didn't Know a Live Mic Picked Up His Comments About Two Dolphins Players Taking a Knee during National Anthem

In true Donald Trump fashion, Jim Nantz didn't know the microphone was live when he made some comments two weeks ago. Obviously his comments were not as controversial as Trump's, but when the Dolphins played at Cincinnati a couple Dolphins players continued to take a knee during the national anthem. Nantz said this in the video below not realizing his live mic was picking up what he said.


Bit of an up and down week last week but still very good numbers over all for the year and we have made money overall. Lots of good games this week with some nice point spreads. Let's get right to this weeks picks.

COLLEGE GAMES                                (HOME team in CAPS)

FLORIDA ST -21 over Wake Forrest
FSU had a huge win last week over Miami and I think they back it up this week against a poor Wake Forrest team. FSU is at home and they have a week off after this game which is good as their next game is Clemson. So no look ahead here or sandwich game as they will have a week off before the Clemson game. I am not sure WF scores more than 10 or 13 points and I think FSU goes nuts on offense. I like FSU big, real big. Lay the 3 touchdowns.

Nebraska -3 over INDIANA
Nebraska has benefited from an easy schedule but they are a very good team. Indiana had a nice home win vs Michigan St but that has been there only good win all year. I lover that we have only a field goal point spread here as I think on pure talent Nebraska is far superior to Indiana. I will take the team with far superior talent and only laying a field goal. Give me Nebraska.

Alabama -12 over TENNESSEE
The Volunteers have played amazingly entertaining games each week and their luck came to an end last week with a heart breaking loss. I think this week the bad luck continues and it won't be heart breaking. Tennessee can't take a half off and mount an amazing comeback vs a team like Alabama. Once Bama gets up on you, they pour it on. Alabama big and lay the points



Pittsburgh -7 over MIAMI
I hate picking against Miami on this site, I really really do. I make it a point not to bet Dolphins games because I want to root for them each week and not have to worry about point spreads or anything of the sort. But every now and then there is a line and a game where its just too good to pass up. And if there was ever a time I wish I was wrong and will lose money I hope it's when I do bet against them. But you need to separate your heart from your brain when betting. My heart will always pull for Miami but common sense kicks in and the Dolphins don't have a CB on their roster who can cover any of the Pittsburgh WR's. This game has 35-7 written all over it. Hold your nose and bet Pittsburgh folks.

OAKLAND +2 over Kansas City
The Raiders at home getting 2 points, let me jump all over that. KC is a good team, but not great. This is probably a field goal game either way so I will take the 2 points here. I think Oakland wins outright to be honest as they have the better QB and are the better team.

SEATTLE -6 over Atlanta
The Falcons hit a road bump in their amazing season thus far. You have Seattle coming off a bye week and they are at home. Atlanta has played well this year but I don't see how they go into Seattle and win. The line is small enough where I think Seattle wins. Before the bye week the Hawks were getting on the right track and playing well, I think they turn it up a notch and blow out Atlanta.


Points spread curtesy of the Caesars Sportsbook

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fulton Walker Dead at 58

The Martinsburg Journal and other various outlets are reporting former Miami Dolphins special teams standout Fulton Walker has died at 58 years of age. Fulton Walker was the first player in Super Bowl history to return a kickoff for a touchdown with his 98 yard return vs Washington in Super Bowl 17. In that Super Bowl Walker had 4 kickoff returns for 190 yards total.
Walker was a 6th round draft pick who played for the Dolphins between 1981-1985. In 2013 Walker was the victim of a home invasion and was savagely beaten by two men. One of the men is currently serving 18 years in prison for the crime. There is no word on the cause of death at this time.