Let’s take a closer look at the NFL betting odds for this Week 1 matchup at First Energy Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 8, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS.
Taking the next step
The Miami Dolphins finished the 2012 campaign with a 7-9 straight up and 8-8 against-the-spread record, which was good enough for second place in the AFC East divisional standings, but was five games back of the New England Patriots.
The Dolphins went UNDER the betting total in 11 of their 16 games, as they ranked 27th in total yards a season ago—mainly due to rookie Ryan Tannehill gaining experience under center.
The Browns will need second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden to perform at a higher level if they plan on moving up in the standings, as he finished last year with a 72.6 passer rating.
Expectations are definitely higher in South Beach, as the Dolphins spent more than $250 million on free agents and rookies during the offseason, with $117 million being guaranteed.
The signing of former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace was the big splash, as he’ll serve as a vertical threat for Tannehill and second-year head coac hJoe Philbin’s passing attack.
Defending the pass
With star cornerback Joe Haden missing a combined five games last season due to an NFL suspension and injury, the Browns struggled in defending the pass—ranking 25th in allowing 245.2 yards through the air in 2012.
Cleveland finished second in that particular category two seasons ago, but will only improve its position this year if the team’s new 3-4 defensive scheme is able to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Dolphins as one of their early Week 1 NFL picks, as they should take a step forward in Philbin’s second year, while the Browns are still rebuilding the franchise.
Cleveland is hoping that running back Trent Richardson will be available for the start of training camp, as he’s currently dealing with a lower-leg injury that has sidelined him from participating in OTAs.
It’s definitely an injury to keep an eye on moving forward.
NFL Week 1 Pick: Miami Dolphins PK