The regular-season series between the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Buccaneers reads like two separate entities combined into one. From 1976, when the Buccaneers joined the NFL as an expansion franchise, until 1991 the two teams met five times and Miami won four of the games, but just one was a blowout, Miami's 33-17 verdict in 1991. Three of the other four games were three-point verdicts and the fifth finished with a six-point difference on the scoreboard.
From 1997 to the present, the Dolphins and Buccaneers have clashed six more times in regular-season play, and the pendulum has swung in Tampa Bay's favor. The Buccaneers were winners in five of those six games, including a 30-20 decision during the 2017 season. That win was posted in Miami, and Tampa Bay has won two of its last three regular-season visits to Miami. The Buccaneers posted three of their five victories by 10-point margins, but of the other three games, two were decided by three points and one by two points.
Get Under It - When the Dolphins and Buccaneers face each other in the preseason, the person operating the scoreboard can generally count on catching up on their sleep. This game has under bet on the total written all over it. In 29 Miami-Tampa Bay exhibition contests, 16 have ended with neither team getting to 20 points. Three times one team scored exactly 20 points, and eight times a team surpassed 20 points. But only once has a team got to 30 points, and just twice have both teams cracked the 20-point barrier.
Miami won back-to-back games in 2009-10 by final scores of 10-6 and 10-7. Those were two of the eight occasions where one of the teams managed to put up a single-digit total on their side of the scoreboard. No team has scored more than 22 points in the last eight Dolphins-Buccaneers preseason tilts and only in three of those games has a team got to the 20-point plateau. The average total for those eight games was 27.3 points.
Miami Nice - The Buccaneers have enjoyed their recent preseason visits to Miami to face the Dolphins. They've won three in a row there, five of their last six games and six of their last eight. That trend has carried over into regular-season play, where Tampa Bay has won on two of its last three trips to Miami. The average margin of victory in those six preseason wins was 5.6 points per game. In the regular season, the margin of victory per game is 6.5.
Hold On To The Ball - Turnovers have hurt the Dolphins in head-to-head meetings with the Buccaneers. In the last 10 Miami-Tampa Bay games, the Dolphins have averaged 2.65 turnovers per game, compared to one per game by the Buccaneers. In the last three meetings, the Dolphins turned it over 2.67 times per game, while the Buccaneers held steady with an average of one turnover per game. In last season's 30-20 Tampa Bay win, Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler was picked off three times and Miami lost two fumbles.
Who's Under Center? - One debate that most certainly figures to get underway as the season commences with this game is who will be the Dolphins' starting quarterback? Cutler is gone, though he won't say he's retired, but regardless, former Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill is back to health after missing all of 2017 with a left knee injury. But Tannehill is 37-40 with the Dolphins and owns a career passer rating of 86.5. Journeyman Brock Osweiler is also on the roster, and this battle figures to go on throughout the preseason.
Jameis-ed Up - Speaking of quarterbacks on the hot seat, Buccaneers passer Jameis Winston once again finds himself in the eye of a storm of his own doing. A guy who can't seem to get out of his own way, Winston was suspended for three games by the NFL after he was accused of groping a female Uber driver. It's the latest in a series of personal controversies involving Winston and the law. How will his absence affect the Buccaneers, and how much longer are they willing to put up with his shenanigans on a losing team?
Florida Panhandlers - While the Jacksonville Jaguars came perilously close to reaching the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history last season, the news isn't nearly as promsing when it comes to Florida's other two NFL clubs. The Dolphins, 6-10 in 2017, are listed by Bovada with 6.5 as the total for their 2018 season wins. Play the over at minus-120, or the under at -110. BetOnline has the Dolphins at +1200 to win the AFC East, the co-longshot along with the New York Jets.
The Buccaneers, 5-11 last season, also aren't getting the embrace of much love from the sportsbooks. The only NFC South team that didn't make the playoffs last season, BetOnline puts Tampa Bay as the longshot to win the division at +800. No other team in the group has odds higher than +275. The Buccaneers are +2500 to win the NFC championship. The Dolphins are listed at +4000 to win the AFC title. Talk about insults. The Cleveland Browns, 0-16 last season, are +2800 to win the AFC.
Super Bowl Bound - The Dolphins won two of the first eight Super Bowls played. The Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII. So what are the odds of a Dolphins-Buccaneeers matchup in Super Bowl LIII? Well, thanks to MyBookie, we happen to know that answer. MyBookie will give you odds of +150000 on a Tampa Bay-Miami Super Bowl showdown at the end of this season. Long odds to be sure, and about as unlikely as the Vegas Golden Knights reaching the Stanley Cup final as a first-year expansion team.
Hey, wait a minute - that happened. And if a Miami-Tampa Bay Super Bowl were to happen and you were the wise soul who wagered $100 on that outcome, well, you'd be taking home $150,000 before the big game even kicked off. Sure, your buddies will laugh at you for playing that wager. But the friends of the guy who bet £100 on Leicester winning the English Premier League in 2016 probably laughed at him, too. But he had the last laugh, all the way to the bank with his £250,000 when Leicester won.