Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins
Date and Time: Sunday, September 10, 2017, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Hard Rock Stadium
Week 1 Opening NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Dolphins -3, O/U 47
Buccaneers vs. Dolphins TV Coverage: FOX
Dirk Koetter is entering his third season as a member of the Bucs’ coaching staff with the last two as head coach. He took over when the team went into rebuild mode, and enters his second season calling the shots with heavy expectations thrust upon his team. That has everything to do with Tampa Bay closing the year out with six wins in its final eight games and just missing out on a playoff spot.
The futures odds find them in the mix to win the NFC South with both the Carolina Panthers ( +244 ) and Atlanta Falcons ( +154 ) each owning shorter odds. However, they’re not much shorter than Tampa Bay’s ( +289 ). This will be Jameis Winston’s third year running the offense. This is the year he’s supposed to take his biggest leap into the upper echelon of quarterbacks. The odds of him doing so look great with Winston having one of the best wide receivers in the league in Mike Evans as well as new toys DeSean Jackson and OJ Howard added to the mix.
After managing just 6, 8, 8, 7 and 6 wins the previous five seasons, the Fins came out of nowhere to win 10 games and punch their ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They split their eight road games but went 6-2 and 4-4 against the spread at home. Unfortunately, they went on to get smashed in the wild card round at Pittsburgh where their season came to a crashing halt. Still, there was much to build upon in Adam Gase’s first go round as head coach.
This year’s team suffered a major setback early on when Ryan Tannehill went down with a knee injury and was lost for the season. Upper management went out and signed Jay Cutler out of retirement to a one-year contract. Smokin’ Jay failed to live up to expectations in Chicago, but one of his best recent campaigns occurred the one season Gase was the Bears offensive coordinator. Miami has the ground game with Jay Ajayi toting the rock, but needs its passing game to allow for the offense to be more dynamic. Should that occur, Miami should be able to at the very least match last year’s output with it getting a pair of games against the Jets and Bills.
Player to Watch
The Bucs conceded over 117 rushing yards per game a season ago. It also gave up over 250 passing yards per game. Both facets of the defense ranked in the bottom third of the league. What the Bucs did do well however was get pressure on opposing quarterbacks in averaging 2.4 sacks per game ( No. 10 ). Miami’s front wall gave up 2.1 sacks per game which was closer to league average. If the Dolphins are to keep Cutler upright more times than not, Ajayi is going to have to pick up where he left off last season and take it to Tampa Bay on the ground. If not, Smokin’ Jay will be a sitting duck.
Buccaneers vs. Dolphins Picks
It’s tough to really get a handle on this game due to not knowing where the game will be played, if at all. A neutral site game would help Tampa Bay immensely even though it won five of eight games played away from Raymond James Stadium a year ago. On the flipside, Miami was a much different team when away in 2016-17. Regardless of all that, the betting public looks to be buying into the Buccaneer hype turning them into 2.5-point favorites after initially opening as 3-point underdogs per the opening odds at the best NFL sportsbooks. As much as I want to believe Jameis and company are ready to take that next step, they have to show me they’re ready to do that before I throw my hard earned money on them in a tricky spot against a team that went to the playoffs last season. Tampa could still win this game and not cover.
Buccaneers vs. Dolphins Week 1 ATS Pick: Dolphins +2.5 at BookMaker.eu
Buccaneers vs. Dolphins Score Prediction: Buccaneers 21 – Dolphins 20