Week 5 has arrived and with it comes a great regional matchup between the Miami Dolphins (1-3) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1).
The Buccaneers are coming into this game off of an emotional win against the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football in one of the most highly anticipated regular-season games in league history, as Tom Brady returned to take on his former team.
On the other side, the Dolphins have been without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa since he suffered a rib injury in Week 2. Tagovailoa won’t suit up for this game either, but his replacement Jacoby Brissett has been serviceable in his stead.
Miami hasn’t been able to turn those performances into wins, though, as the Dolphins are 0-2 with Brissett at the helm after falling in overtime to the Raiders in Week 3 and losing by 10 to the injury-riddled Colts last Sunday.
Let’s dive into our best bets for this matchup in the latest installment of our NFL pick of the day series.
All odds and lines are current as of Friday, October 8.
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Dolphins vs Buccaneers Prediction
This feels like a perfect letdown spot for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, especially as the biggest favorite of the week per our NFL gameday odds. The Bucs are coming off of a huge primetime victory with seemingly the whole world watching and now have to face a tough Dolphins defense on a short week.
The Buccaneers bounced back and took care of business against the Patriots after a frustrating loss to the Rams in Week 3, but their secondary is extremely banged up with their top three cornerbacks all getting injured over the last couple of weeks. Tampa Bay has an elite run defense, but their secondary has been taken advantage of recently and I’m confident that Jacoby Brissett can have similar success like Mac Jones did last week.
The positive for the Dolphins in this matchup is that their priority has never been establishing the run. Tampa Bay’s elite run defense won’t really hold them back because they use Myles Gaskin and Malcolm Brown sparingly, both have less than 30 rushing attempts through four games, and are mostly relying on their backup quarterback to move the ball down the field.
I think the Buccaneers will win this game fairly easily, but the Dolphins are a very capable team. Well-coached teams with good defenses have the ability to stay in games and that’s exactly what I think Miami does this week.
Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Dolphins 23
Dolphins vs Buccaneers Best Bets
Best Bet: Dolphins +10 (-110) at Caesars
The Dolphins have not been very good this season, but they have generally kept games close and performed well against the spread. They are currently 2-2 ATS this season with covers against the Patriots and Raiders.
Miami, given its limitations, is going to do its best to control time of possession and keep this game close. Coach Brian Flores understands that this team can’t keep up in a shootout against Tampa Bay and will do his best to slow the pace down. To do that, the Dolphins will have to sustain drives and keep the ball, something they haven’t done well so far this season as they currently rank towards the bottom of the league in time of possession and average time per drive.
That wouldn’t be an issue if Miami was creating explosive plays on offense, but that has been another weakness of this team so far this season. The Dolphins are averaging 1.29 points per drive through four weeks, only ranking ahead of the New York Jets in that category.
Without any explosive plays and given the Buccaneers’ strength is their league-leading run defense, I do think Miami may become a bit one-dimensional. But against a depleted Tampa Bay secondary, Jacoby Brissett should be able to dink and dunk his way down the field to keep this game competitive.
Overall, this won’t be pretty. Coach Flores is a defensive-minded guy and he’s had success against Brady in the past. I think the Dolphins can keep it close enough to allow them to cover this number.
Best Bet: Over 48 Total Points (-110) at DraftKings
While the goal of the Dolphins will be to shut down this Tampa Bay offense, I’m not sure they are fully capable of that. Cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are very talented, but Miami still ranks in the middle of the pack in passing defense and is allowing 251.5 yards per game through the air.
I see this game going somewhat similarly to the Buccaneers-Falcons game in Week 2. The Buccaneers were confidently on their way to winning that game, but the Falcons cut into the lead and were in a prime position to cover. Down by 10 in the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan proceeded to throw back-to-back interceptions that were returned for touchdowns and killed any chance of Atlanta covering.
Assuming the Dolphins don’t make the same mistakes, I think they are in a good position to keep this close. They will likely trail for a majority of the game, but stay within striking distance and should be able to put up points late if the game result isn’t in doubt. If Miami can stay in the game enough to cover the number, then the total should go over fairly easily.