2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: First quarter predictions
Jay Cutler gave up the comforts of the broadcast booth for the hazards of standing in the pocket, and the Buccaneers defense will aim to make him regret it.
Helping him will be an offensive line featuring last year’s first-round pick Laremy Tunsil, center Mike Pouncey and former Bucs player Ted Larsen.
Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills are formidable opponents for Tampa’s secondary, but the real threat here is going to be running back Jay Ajayi.
The third-year back busted onto the national stage in 2016 with 1,272-yards from the ground and eight touchdown runs.
He did this, of course, on the back of three 200+ yard performances against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and – well – Bills again.
Last season, the Buccaneers defense surrendered 4.4 yards per carry to opposing running backs, tying them for ninth-worst in the NFL.
On the flip side of things, the Dolphins allowed 4.8 yards per carry, making them the worst rushing defense in the league.
Purely because they didn’t have as many attempts against them, Miami’s defense surrendered the third-most rushing yards as well.
Don’t go starting Jacquizz Rodgers in your fantasy league just yet though, because while they obviously bent a whole lot, they didn’t break often.
Allowing just 12 rushing touchdowns all of last season, the Dolphins finished 17th, or right in the middle of the pack in TDs allowed.
In the end, this one is going to come down to Jameis Winston finishing drives with touchdowns and not field goals.
Targets like Cameron Brate and OJ Howard are going to see plenty of work in the redzone here, and they should put up enough points to force Cutler into more throws.
Scoring early will keep Miami from leaning heavily on Ajayi, and the Buccaneers will leave Miami with a Week 1 victory.