September 6, 2017
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were meant to play the Miami Dolphins in South Beach this weekend to kick off the NFL season. Instead, Hurricane Irma has shifted the game all the way to Week 11 where the two teams share a bye week coincidentally. That means 16 weeks straight of football for both teams.
For all intents and purposes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been locked in as this off-season’s “leap team”. Everyone and their grandmother is banking on the idea that the Bucs are going to be in contention based on the idea of Jameis Winston making some sort of jump in ability.
That depends on the play of his offensive line, which basically ranked 30th in the league as one of the worst of 2016. It doesn’t stand to get that much better in 2017, and with Doug Martin suspended for the first three games of the season, things won’t get easier. Now that this already lacking offensive line will have to graft through sixteen straight weeks, it’s getting harder to believe that the Bucs will pass the 8.5 Regular Season Win Total that BetOnline.ag has handed them.
None of this is meant to ring in the gloom and doom. There’s massive tons of potential on the Bucs from Mike Evans to Winston to a defence that just signed T.J. Ward and is anchored by the incredibly versatile Kwon Alexander. But that’s all vacuum thinking. It ignores that Tampa already plays in one of the most brutal divisions in football.
To be clear, all four teams in the NFC South is agonizingly tight. The Saints have an 8.0 game Regular Season Win Total, while the Panthers are being handed a 9.0 game total that many are calling low hanging fruit for handicapping purposes. Leading the fray is the Atlanta Falcons, who may take a step back, but are still an ever-improving team that has a Regular Season Win Total of 9.5 games.
So all in all, things are tough enough as it is for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only sign of relief is that the Bucs get to play the AFC East this year, which may include the Patriots in Week 5, but also means that they have layups against the Jets and Bills.
As usual the backend of the schedule is where things get particularly rough for Tampa Bay. Beginning with the rescheduled Miami game in Week 11, they go on to play Atlanta twice, at Green Bay, Detroit, at Carolina and end the season against New Orleans on New Year’s Eve. The Lions are probably the only weak team in that bunch. Other than that, it’s a murderer’s row.
When it comes to the Miami Dolphins, BetOnline.ag only has them down for 7.5 wins, with the UNDER being favored at -140. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they have Jay Cutler at the helm and who knows where that guy’s head is at. Nobody is making aspersions to the idea that Miami will even remotely contest for the AFC East, a division that the Patriots have essentially dominated for this entire century.
The long and short of is that Tampa and Miami will have very uphill climbs to get to their Regular Season Totals, and if Hurricane Irma causes more damage than anticipated it’s going to be even rougher. Without getting too insensitive about what’s happening in Florida, now’s a good time to remind you that JJ Watt’s Houston Flood Relief Fund has now hit $27 million and still needs your help.
Hopefully Hurricane Irma doesn’t wreak havoc on Florida the same way it did on major parts in the Caribbean. We should all be prepared to do our part. As we’ve said before, if you have money to gamble, then you can spare some change for those who are being impacted by these natural disasters.
Head to BetOnline.ag to bet on the uphill climb the Dolphins and Bucs face, and also do what you can by visiting the Red Cross and other organizations who are trying to help those in need.
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