Miami Dolphins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins meet for a week three preseason game at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers are -4.5 point favorites with an over/under point total set at 37.
It was a tough end to a good year for Raheem Morris and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a late season loss to the Lions ended up being the difference between them going to the playoffs and watching them from home and to make matters worse, the team they allowed to squeeze in, the Green Bay Packers, went on to win the Super Bowl. QB Josh Freeman has another year of experience under his belt and while expectations were muted last season, this year they are real. Freeman has some nice targets to work with in Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Sammie Stroughter, and tight ends Kellen Winslow Jr. and rookie Luke Stocker. LaGarrette Blount has developed into a real talent at running back and it makes me believe he was worth of the first round projection he had before he fell out of favor and ended up going undrafted. Defensively Gerald McCoy looks to be all that he was billed to be at defensive tackle as he’s joined by Roy Miller but the Bucs look to have caught some real value with ends Adrian Clyborn and Da’Quan Bowers who was also projected as a first round pick. Ronde Barber is veteran of the team leading the secondary and Aqib Talib looked like a star in the making before his injury last season. Geno Hayes is as talented as any linebacker who ever came out of Florida State and Mason Foster takes over at MLB. This is going to be a rock solid Tampa Bay team and we should see plenty of their starters going deep into this one.
It was an odd season for Tony Sporano and the Miami Dolphins as rumors of Sporano being on his way out and then being signed to an extension but all of it will be moot if the Dolphins don’t turn things around soon. It will be interesting to see just how much rope Chad Henne gets this year as his inaccuracies and bad decisions cost the Dolphins games last year. Henne has one of the best receivers in football in Brandon Marshall and he is teamed with the dependable Brian Hartline and third down specialist Devone Bess. Miami’s backfield gets an overhaul with Reggie Bush creating mismatches against everyone who lines up against him and Rookie Daniel Thomas and while the Dolphins picked up Larry Johnson this week it will be interesting to see if there is room for him. The Dolphins offensive line should be much better with the additions of Mike Pouncey and Mark Columbo. Miami’s defense was outstanding last season as they ranked sixth in the NFL and they return 10 of the 11 starters from that unit including Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby, and Vontae Davis. Expectations are muted for the Dolphins especially since they play in a tough division but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if they exceeded the expectations.
These are two teams who try to have efficient offense but center around the defense and we’ll see it here as this one stays well below the total.