Although the Dolphins and Buccaneers look to bounce back from a loss in week 1 preseason action, they have bigger issues to sort out, namely what look each team should sport heading into the regular season. Join us as we preview this clash and deliver our value NFL picks.
Miami Dolphins +2.0 (-110) O/U 37.5 (-110)
The Dolphins finished second in the AFC East last season behind New England Patriots, one of the top teams in the league. Patriots provide the benchmark, not only in their shared division but also as one of established standards in the league. After the Dolphins went 8-8-0 (4-4 at home and away) last season, despite the dark cloud of controversy hanging over them, no excuses will be afforded if they don’t do better this season. Coach Philbin’s grip on the team is hanging by a thread. It’s his last chance to prove he can take what is arguably a top-10 defense and developing young quarterback into the postseason.
Week 1 preseason action saw the Dolphins fall to the Falcons 16-10 on the road, after twice taking the lead in the first half only to settle on a 10-10 draw going into the break and fire blanks in the second half. Ryan Tannehill had a good showing, putting up a touchdown in his only series of work. He went 6-of-6 for 62 yards, which included throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson to open the game with the lead. Rookie Seth Lobato managed to lead Miami to the Falcons 5-yard line with less than 3 minutes to time only to fumble. Overall, their performance left much to be desired especially in the second half where they were clearly found wanting.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.0 (-110), O/U 37.5 (-110)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers have brought in Lovie Smith to improve on what was a forgettable 2013 with a 4-12 finish (3-5 home, 1-7 away), made worse by a 1-5 record against divisional rivals; of which, incidentally, two – New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers –are held viable contenders in Super Bowl betting markets.
Lovie Smith and the Bucs have a lot of work to do in the postseason if they hope to emerge competitive. That is if their preseason opener with the Jacksonville Jaguars were any indication: a largely mundane affair that saw the Bucs fall behind to trail for most of the game, until a late surge in the fourth quarter saw them finally draw level 10-10 before defense faltered and the Jaguars scored a touchdown. Josh McCown was harassed by Jacksonville’s pass rush terribly, going just 2-of-4 for 20 yards with one interception. Mike Glennon fared much better, going 11-of-19 for 140 yards and a touchdown (no interceptions).
NFL Betting Verdict and Picks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the -2.0 favourites as they host the Miami Dolphins on Saturday. Neither team looked particularly good in week 1, so it would be fair to assume that this game cuts fine as far as the straight up win is concerned on your NFL picks. That said the Bucs have home advantage, which could work in their favour as it did for most home teams in week 1 preseason betting. What’s more, keep in mind this is a new system under Lovie Smith, working out the kinks is bound to take time. On the other side of the coin, the question is whether it’s reasonable to assume the Dolphins will improve in week 2.
Home favourites and adjusting to new system:
Tampa can win because they have home advantage and bolstering their chances somewhat is the expected return of Dashan Goldson to the line up. The safety was sidelined in week 1 with a recovering foot injury that required surgery in the offseason. Of course, the real challenge for Lovie Smith isn’t the secondary necessarily but the offense. Week 1 revealed Bucs’ offense severely wanting. Smith is going to have to find the right balance on offense, the best starting line-up he’ll hope to field in the regular season. That is going to have an impact on the outcome you’d think.
As it were, everybody seems to be on a short leash and it’s not glaringly obvious what those starting selections might be. Handicapping matchups that feature rotating line-ups, various strings of players from quarter-to-quarter, series to series, is already a challenge, never mind predicting what unexpected wholesale changes Smith has in mind. In training camp, he made it clear Josh McCown was the chosen one for the Bucs barring any unforeseen setbacks. After visibly struggling under Jaguars’ constant pressure, looking wholly off colour and off form, his starting role is no longer certain. He’s expected to get the start in Saturday’s game but if he struggles against Miami, the prognosis might not be so good.
Can Dolphins improve in week 2?
As far as Miami Dolphins are concerned, their offense has one gaping hole that could be deciding in week 2 and that is the backup role. They need a solid backup for the preseason matches but the desperate search for the right fit isn’t looking promising at the moment. They have a solid enough starter in the young, developing Ryan Tannehill. Potential backup Matt Moore and Pat Devlin are sidelined with injuries, opening the door for undrafted rookie Seth Lobato last week, who practically carried the team almost the entire 60 minutes. He wasn’t any good. With experimentation expected to continue in the backup position, it’s hard therefore to expect the Dolphins to improve in week 2.
NFL Picks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.0 -110