Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Miami Dolphins (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TB -2.5/MIA +2.5
Over/Under Total: 41.5
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the in-state trip to face the Miami Dolphins in week one action from Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. Each team is pining to get 2017 off to a good start after having a lot of positive developments in the 2016 season. Miami started last season 1-4, but ended up 10-6 and in the playoffs. Tampa started at 1-3 then just missed the playoffs at 9-7. After massive upgrades last season, who can get this season off to a good start?
Second-year head coach Dirk Koetter put Tampa in a nice position in his first season at the helm. They really werent that far off in 2016 and things seem to be lining up well for this franchise this season. Weve seen a lot of growth from Jameis Winston, both on the field and as a leader of men. He had to like how the team went out and got him another top receiver to go with Mike Evans, with DeSean Jackson now in the fold. In the draft, tight end OJ Howard was taken in the first round and with Cameron Brate, they could see a lot of production coming from that position. The one issue with this offense is the run-game. With Doug Martin out of action, they will be grinding away with rookie Jeremy McNichols, Peyton Barber, and versatile Charles Sims.
Tampa really didnt make a ton of moves with their defense in the offseason, leaving coordinator Mike Smith with a cast that is highly-dependent on some youngsters developing quickly. Adding Chris Baker at DE could help, especially if Noah Spence comes around on the other end in his second season. Gerald McCoy is questionable, but a fantastic run-stopper. Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander are a pair of good linebackers. The secondary could be an issue, as they struggled last season. Rookie safety Justin Evans could help, as will late-offseason signing TJ Ward. But guys like Vernon Hargreaves, Brent Grimes, and Keith Tardy need to play well this season. With some luck, they could be better, but with a few injuries and guys not fulfilling their potential, it could be a team handicap.
Miami really put it together by going on a big run to get to the playoffs last season. Adam Gase seemed to tap into something good in year one on the job. The prognosis looked dicey when in August the Fins lost starting QB Ryan Tannehill with a season-ending injury. But against the wall and with options looking thin, the Dolphins were able to lure Jay Cutler out of retirement. If Cutler is refreshed by being on a good team, he might actually be a good option. The bottom line is hard to see before the opening whistle of the regular season, but is Cutler really that far of a drop-off from Tannehill?
Some pieces need to fall into place for the Dolphins offense. Running back Jay Ajayi was huge in some games and quiet in others and a more-consistent season would go a long way. Cutler works with a growing package of ball-catchers, including DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Jarvis Landry. TE Julius Thomas could become a factor in this offense, with Kenyan Drake a burner who can serve as a interesting option, as well.
Miami did pretty well last season with a defense that didnt always cooperate. The main problems were against the run. The linebacking corps are a bit decimated heading into the season, with Koa Misi and Raekwon McMillian not starting the season and leaving it up to Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons, who was added in the offseason. Charles Harris is a first-round rookie who will be at one end, with Cameron Wake still a force on the other end. And Ndamukong Suh is still a force in the middle. The secondary will go with Byron Maxwell and Xavier Howard at cornerback, along with Reshad Jones and Nate Allen at the safety positions. All in all, they could be better than in 2016.
There doesnt seem to be much buzz about Miami, despite the sizzling finish to last season. And the whole Tannehill saga seemed to sour the public even more on Miami, despite them not really being much worse-off at the end of the day. Tampa is certainly a team on the rise, but we see Miami being in a high-value spot as the home dog this week.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Miami Dolphins plus 2.5 points.
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