The Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants are set to collide in week 15 of the NFL season, all the while Eli Manning is gearing up to make his first appearance at MetLife Stadium since week 2. Will Manning give Giants fans something to cheer about? Or will Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins gatecrash the party and spoil what very well may be Manning’s last game as the Giants starting signal caller?

The Giants are installed as the home favorites across sports betting shops, laying -3.5 points to the Dolphins. Oddly enough (or maybe not so), the Giants aren’t the NFL consensus pick. It seems early betting fancies a bit of ‘Fitz Magic.’

That the Dolphins are in vogue – the trendy NFL pick these days – is an NFL betting trend few would have predicted early in the season when Brian Flores’ side was repeatedly getting steamrolled by opponents. In the first few weeks of the season, Miami was the league’s proverbial punching bag. A laughing stock that few could take seriously. And by that same token, the NFL odds for each of their games swelled.

After the embarrassing 59-10 evisceration by the Baltimore Ravens in week 1, Miami were found trading with double-digit spreads. Point spreads of +18, +22 and +17 were common for the Dolphins and even with that many points, Miami couldn’t find a cover no matter how hard they tried.

However, since coming off the week 5 bye, the Dolphins showed notable improvements that coincided with the rise of journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. Miami embarked on a five-game covering streak, beginning with a narrow 17-16 loss to Washington (week 6) and ending on a back-to-back game winning streak (week 9 and 10) with wins over the Jets (+3.5) and Colts (+11).

More recently, the Dolphins sent seismic shockwaves through NFL betting markets when they beat Philadelphia Eagles 37-31 at Hard Rock Stadium, pulling off the massive upset as the +10.5 closing home underdogs. From week 10 onwards, the Dolphins boast a 1-3 SU record and 2-2 ATS record.

It’s the second straight week for the Dolphins at MetLife. Last Sunday, the Dolphins squared up to the Jets at East Rutherford and very nearly pulled off the sweep over Adam Gase and the Gang Green, only to be left with the feeling that contentious officiating robbed them of what would have been their fourth win on the season.

A penalty on Miami’s defense called on the last play resulted in a field goal attempt for the Jets and as the pigskin sailed gaily through the posts, so did the W slip through Miami’s clasp. Brian Flores was livid with the call and he continued to argue with the referees and seethe his way across the field for the customary handshakes with the opposing team.

Contentious officiating aside, the onus is on a team to win a game and frankly, the Dolphins didn’t do enough last Sunday. It was a tough day at the office for Fitzpatrick as he threw zero touchdowns and one interception on just 21 of 37 completions.

In the Giants, the Dolphins will come up against a much different team to the Jets, one that is quite pass-happy and porous defensively. That should bode well for Miami’s chances to come up trumps.

Undoubtedly, on paper, the Giants are beatable. Pat Shurmur’s side is merely 2-11 SU on the season and riding a woeful nine-game losing streak into week 15. Even Manning’s return last week didn’t prompt the desired turnaround.

The two-time Super Bowl champion returned to the fold last week against Philadelphia. It was particularly symbolic because Manning made his NFL debut against the Eagles 16 years ago. And for the first half of the much-anticipated NFC East showdown Giants’ fans had plenty to be excited about as their team was up 17-3 on the Eagles.

Alas, the bonhomie wafting over Manning’s return was short-lived. Carson Wentz and the Eagles put up 14 unanswered points in the second half to send the game into overtime. With Philly winning the coin toss, the Eagles marched downfield and scored the game-winning touchdown. All told, the Eagles won 23-17 and Manning never got to touch the pigskin.

It’s bound to be a highly-charged and emotional day in East Rutherford with the return of Manning to his stomping ground being a potential distraction that could put Miami off its game.

Manning has been plying his trade with the NY Giants since he joined the team as a bright-eyed, 22 years of age hopeful. His second-coming so to speak, will be an event to remember for the home faithful. Potentially, a chance to officially bid adieu to a beloved quarterback that has brought fame and fortune to the franchise over his long tenure.

In a perfect world, Manning going out on a high note would be the preferred happy ending. That said, win or lose, it’s going to

be a historic game. One for the books. And Ryan Fitzpatrick very well might put his mark on the proceedings and steal Eli’s thunder, if not with the outright upset at the very least the cover.

NFL Picks: Dolphins +3.5