Dolphins vs. Buccaneers Odds, Pick, Prediction: Our Betting Preview, Spread Bet for NFL Week 5
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady.
Dolphins vs. Bucs Odds
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
It’s the Battle of Florida, as the Miami Dolphins head a few hours up Interstate 75 to visit the home of the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs are hoping life finally returns to normal after a crazy opening month. Tampa Bay opened the 2021 season with a wild back-and-forth Thursday night game against the Cowboys, got run by the Rams in Los Angeles in Week 3 and then faced that emotional Tom Brady return to New England last Sunday night.
The Bucs have racked up injuries and survived at 3-1, but it’s been an exhausting month.
Luckily for Tampa, the Dolphins have had it just as hard. Miami too has been hit hard by injuries, and it is less equipped than the Bucs to withstand them. The Dolphins eked out a win against the run of play in Week 1 but have gone winless since, and Tua Tagovailoa still has not returned from injury.
The Bucs are big favorites, and just about everyone expects them to win this one.
But can they get the cover?
Injured Dolphins Offer Little Reason for Optimism
Everyone knows about the Bucs’ mounting injuries — we’ll get back to them in a minute — but Miami’s are stacking up too, and they’re just the wrong injuries for this matchup.
Tagovailoa was a trendy MVP sleeper for some, and Miami’s passing game was supposed to help the Dolphins take the next step. But with Tua ailing, it’s been Jacoby Brissett filling in. While he’s one of the higher-floor backups in the league, he doesn’t offer much ceiling in the passing game. Even worse, Will Fuller is out and DeVante Parker is questionable.
Miami’s offense just doesn’t have much juice right now. Rookie Jaylen Waddle hasn’t popped yet, so that leaves the receiving corps pretty thin, and the offensive line and run game were already quite suspect coming into the year. Speaking of that, add center Michael Dieter to the injured list. That may not seem like much, but a backup center and poor snap exchange between two unfamiliar guys under center is the sort of thing that can doom an entire game plan.
The Dolphins have had a hard time scoring this season. They put up 17 last week against the Colts, but that was a measly three points until a pair of garbage-time touchdowns on fourth-down conversions late. The Dolphins were shut out by the Bills a few weeks ago, and they had only seven offensive points against the Raiders until the final nine minutes.
Let’s put things a different way: During the first 50 minutes of the last three games without Tagovailoa, Miami’s offense has scored 10 points total. That’s bad.
The Dolphins defense is solid but up against it with the Bucs attack.
Cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are the strength of Fins defense but were both limited this week in practice.
Head coach Brian Flores likes to be aggressive on defense. That works pretty well against bad quarterbacks, but better offenses and guys like Brady tend to pick that stuff apart when they get into a rhythm.
There’s not much reason to believe in the Dolphins.
Buccaneers Dominate Despite Injuries
If you’re betting on the Dolphins in this game, let’s face it — it’s really just a bet against the Bucs.
Tampa Bay certainly has some injury issues. The secondary is in rough shape. Star cornerback Carlton Davis went on injured reserve this week, so he’s out for at least a few weeks, while nickel corner Sean Murphy-Bunting is also out and Jamel Dean is questionable, potentially leaving the Bucs without their top three corners.
Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. is also out this week. That’s four of the top five names in the secondary that could be missing. Against some teams, that could be a huge problem — but Miami’s offense ranks 28th in DVOA, including 29th in both Passing and Rushing DVOA.
The Bucs are still missing Rob Gronkowski and Gio Bernard on offense, but that’s not as big of a problem when you’ve also got Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, O.J. Howard, Ronald Jones, and Leonard Fournette.
Oh, and did we mention the GOAT?
Brady threw nine touchdowns in his first two games but has just one the last two games combined as the Bucs offense has slowed down. This could be a good opportunity for him to get rolling again. He’s familiar with Flores’ defensive schemes and won’t be fazed by the pressure Miami is sure to bring. And even if Howard and Jones aren’t healthy, Tampa Bay has so many weapons that Brady can just find the next guy.
The Bucs still have plenty of weapons on defense too, even with the secondary banged up. Devin White and Lavonte David are the best linebacker duo in the league, and Tampa Bay is still absurdly good at run defense, so much so that multiple teams have abandoned even the premise of a rushing attack against them already this season.
Miami’s best hope of staying in this game is probably Brissett beating this banged-up Bucs secondary deep on a few balls to Waddle or Albert Wilson. And it’s certainly possible. Many things are possible, but that doesn’t mean they’re likely.
The most likely outcome here is the one the bookmakers are expecting too: a comfortable Tampa Bay win.
Miami isn’t scoring. The Dolphins have scored 62 points all season, and 11 of them came on the last play or in overtime. If they only hit their average of 15.5 points per game, the Bucs just need to get to 25 points to cover this. Tampa Bay hasn’t done that the last two games but had scored 30 or more in nine straight games before that.
Don’t let recency bias throw you. The Bucs are great and the offense is just fine and will score points. The Dolphins can’t keep up. I like Tampa Bay to win and cover, and with relative ease.
If you’re a little squeamish on the line, you could tease the Bucs down under a touchdown, but you’re losing some value there and might be doing so unnecessarily.
There’s another Bucs angle you may want to consider too — the big picture.
It feels like the Bucs are being overlooked a bit in the big picture. While everyone else jostles for position, this is still an elite team, and one that will get healthy by the time the games really matter.
Take a look at the upcoming schedule: the Dolphins, Eagles, Bears and Saints before the bye, then Washington, the Giants, Colts and Falcons after. Heck, we pause there for a tough game against the Bills but then it’s the Jets, Saints, and Panthers (twice) to close the season.
How many losses are left on that schedule? Probably not many. But with the Bucs looking mostly human the last couple weeks, that makes this the perfect time to invest in Bucs futures while everyone else is fawning over the Cardinals and Cowboys.
Brady is still an excellent MVP value. The Bucs have solid value to win the NFC or Super Bowl, and they’re in great shape to get the No. 1 seed with that Charmin-soft schedule.
Look at the schedule again. Remember the banged-up Bucs secondary? The opponent still has to pass to beat them. Who’s doing that anytime soon — Jalen Hurts? Justin Fields? Jameis Winston? Taylor Heinecke, Daniel Jones, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Zach Wilson or Sam Darnold? That’s every QB left on the schedule other than Josh Allen. Oh — and Brissett, somehow still the worst name on the list.
This secondary will be fine. The Bucs will be fine, big picture and in this one. Tampa Bay rolls.
Pick: Bucs -9.5 and invest in Tampa futures
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