Miami Dolphins Betting Favorite Over Tampa Bay Buccaneers In First Pre-Season Game

August 12, 2010- By Jonathan Lowell

After undergoing a complete franchise overhaul before the 2009 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start the 2010 season a little more optimistic. The Miami Dolphins are miles ahead of the ‘Bucs in terms of understanding their head coach, Tony Sparano’s, philosophy, but still have much work ahead of them if they are to realize their goal of making the playoffs.

Tampa Bay finished with a dismal 3-13 record last season (1-5 in the NFC South). Head coach Raheem Morris is in his second year with the team, and needs to post a better record if he expects to be retained by owner/president Malcom Glazer. He will have a young, but talented group of players to work with in 2010.

The Dolphins just missed the playoffs last season after finishing 7-9 (4-2 in the AFC South). They went into Week 15 with a winning record at 7-6, but dropped their final three games against the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers to fall out of playoff contention. The final two losses came at home.

According to pre-season Super Bowl XLV odds, both teams are set among the underdogs to win the 2011 NFL championship. The Dolphins’ line is currently set at +3000 to win the game held in Cowboys Stadium this year, and the Buccaneers are overwhelming underdogs at +15000. BetUS sportsbook has set the Dolphins as three-point favorites to win Saturday’s game over the ‘Bucs, and the over/under for total points scored in the game is set at 33 1/2.

Miami fields an impressive offensive attack that has been causing defensive coordinators headaches ever since the introduction of the “Wildcat” offense. Chad Henne will lead the attack after taking over the quarterback position from Chad Pennington, who went down with another shoulder injury in the third game of the season in 2009. Running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will be the feature backs according to the 2010 Miami Dolphins season preview, while Lex Hilliard will continue to be a solid third-down receiving option out of the backfield. The question for the Dolphins comes at receiver, and whether or not Brandon Marshall will be able to deliver another 1,000 yard season. The offensive line for the Dolphins can be considered a weak point, but the defensive line for the Buccaneers will not pose much of a threat. Rookie Gerlad McCoy out of Oklahoma is expected to be a Warren Sapp-type player, but is still unproven on an NFL field. The ‘Bucs secondary is probably the strongest part of the defense, but Aqib Talib will need to learn much more from the aging Ronde Barber.

Josh Freeman will enter training camp as the uncontested starter, as the ‘Bucs continue to groom him in hopes that he will be the starter for years to come. His 59.8 passer rating from a year ago shows his inexperience in reading NFL defenses. There aren’t many options for Freeman at receiver after the departure of Antonio Bryant, who left the team to join Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco in Cincinnati. Rookie Arrelious Benn looks to make an instant impact, while Kellen Winslow will continue to put up solid numbers. The 2010 Buccaneers season preview lists Cadillac Williams as the projected starter next season. Derrick Ward disappointed in his first year with the team in 2009, but will try to impress coaches in pre-season camp. After the loss of Jason Taylor and Joey Porter, the Dolphins are looking for someone to step up in their place. Karlos Dansby will be playing in the 3-4 scheme after coming over from the Arizona Cardinals, and Channing Crowder should be a nice compliment. Yeremiah Bell will try to have another Pro Bowl Year at Safety, while Randy Starks will move to nose tackle after a seven-sack season a year ago.

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