Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) vs. Miami Dolphins (0-0)
NFL Week One: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 1:00pm EST
Line: Tampa Bay -2.5
The Miami Dolphins will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week one action Sunday afternoon from Hard Rock Stadium. The Buccaneers went 9-7 last season, and the Dolphins had a strong season, posting a 10-6 record and fell 30-12 to the Steelers in the Wild Card game. These two clubs last met in 2013 with the Bucs coming away with a 22-19 win. (game postponed until Week 11).
Winston Looks to Assert Himself as Elite NFL QB
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expecting Jameis Winston to take a huge leap forward in a season which could see the Bucs reach the playoffs. Winston had a solid 2016 season, collecting 4090 passing yards with 28 touchdowns, however, he will need to cut down on his 18 picks. He will have one of the most potent wide receivers in the NFL in his arsenal with Mike Evans. The 24-year old receiver ranked fourth in the entire NFL with 1321 receiving yards last season. Tampa Bay also strengthened their receiving core by signing DeSean Jackson to a big three year 35 million dollar contract. Bucs running back Doug Martin will serve the first of a three game suspension in this one. Jacquizz Rodgers will get the start in running back in his place. Rodgers rushed for 560 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry in ten games last season.
The Tampa Bay defense is a bit of a question mark, especially in their secondary. They did sign Chris Baker in the offseason who made 3.5 sacks last season. The Bucs defense is anchored by linebacker Kwon Alexander. The former LSU Tiger ranked fourth in the NFL with 145 tackles and also added three sacks last season.
The Buccaneers scored an average of 22.1 points per game in 2016, ranking them 18th in the NFL. The Tampa Bay defense was in the middle of the pack, conceding an average of 23.1 points, positioning them 15th overall.
Cutler Under the Spotlight in Place of Tannehill
The Miami Dolphins were dealt a crushing blow early in training camp when Ryan Tannehill went down with a knee injury and will be out for the season. GM Chris Grier quickly signed Jay Cutler out of retirement to take over as the starting quarterback. The 34-year old quarterback tallied 1059 passing yards with four touchdowns against five interceptions in five games with the Bears last season. Cutler did not play a whole lot in the preseason but he was aggressive, leaving the Dolphins feeling optimistic. Jay Ajayi will be counted on heavily as he enters this third NFL season. The 24-year old running back rushed for a solid 1,272 yards with eight touchdowns in 15 games last season. Miami features a talented receiving core highlighted by Jarvis Landry was accumulated 1136 receiving yards on 94 receptions in 2016. DeVante Parker is also primed for a big year after bringing in 744 receiving yards last season.
The Dolphins defense was a disappointment last season however they do feature some talent and could show improvement this season. Ndamukong Suh is back after making five sacks and 72 tackles last season, and Miami also features Cameron Wake who finished sixth in the NFL with 11.5 sacks last year.
Last season the Dolphins scored an average of 22.7 points per game, ranking them 17th overall. The Miami defense allowed an average of 23.8 points per game, placing them 18th in the NFL.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are:
- 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games against the Dolphins.
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games.
The Miami Dolphins are:
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in September.
- 6-13 ATS in their last 19 home games.
I am going with the Buccaneers in this matchup. The Bucs feature a stacked receiving core and Winston is poised for a big season, so I expect them to move the ball well against a mediocre defense, and overall I feel the Dolphins are not deep enough to handle the Bucs offensive weapons. Furthermore, I definitely do not trust or expect Jay Cutler to do much at quarterback for Miami, especially after he posted a 4:5 TD to INT ratio in five games with the Bears last season. Miami also has a questionable rush defense that allowed 140 rushing yards per game last year, and even though Doug Martin is out, Jacquizz Rodgers is still a solid option at running back.
Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5
The Buccaneers should have success in the air and on the ground, and the Dolphins should move the ball on the ground with Jay Ajayi which should help them generate points. The Bucs do not have the strongest rush defense, so I expect Jay Ajayi to have a strong afternoon, and the over is 5-0 in their last five home games. The Bucs depth at wide receiver could prove to be too much for the Dolphins to handle and the over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings between these two teams.