Vegas has Dolphins as biggest underdogs for week 1

Aug 19, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) in game action in the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Dallas won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) in game action in the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Dallas won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dolphins are already in Seattle preparing for the Seahawks in the first week of the NFL season. Some Dolphins fans believe Miami can pull off the upset, but Vegas is not convinced.

Everyone is excited that the NFL season finally kicks off this week. The Miami Dolphins have another tough schedule ahead of them this season, and this week they face one of their toughest opponents. The trip from Miami to Seattle is the longest for any NFL team to make, not counting games that are played in London. Miami’s tough opponent and long trip have Vegas believing it will be a long afternoon for the Dolphins on Sunday.

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As it stands, the Dolphins open the season as 10-point underdogs in Seattle. That is the largest spread differential among games for week 1. The next largest differential is in Kansas City where the Chiefs are listed as 7-point favorites over the visiting San Diego Chargers. While it’s no surprise that the Seahawks are favored in their home opener, the 10-point spread seems a little steep for week 1.

If I’m being realistic, I do expect the Seahawks to come away with a victory on Sunday, but I do believe the Dolphins will keep it closer than most people realize. Should the Dolphins be considered lucky in any way about traveling to Seattle, it would be that this game is scheduled so early in the season. The Seahawks have a reputation with starting seasons off to a slow start.

Last year in their opener, the Seahawks were upset by the Rams in an overtime thriller. They started the season off to a 2-4 start before surging into the playoffs. In 2014, the Seahawks lost to an inferior Chargers team in week 2 pretty convincingly. The majority of their losses, however, happened away from CenturyLink Field.

Since 2012, the Seahawks have lost a total of just five games. Good news for Dolphins fans though is that 3 of them came just last season, maybe a sign that Seattle doesn’t quite have the grip on their home field advantage as they did in the past. Seattle still has their 12th man and the Legion of Boom, however.

Even though Vegas and the vast majority of analysts are giving Miami no shot in this game, the Dolphins have a great shot at keeping this game close and covering the 10-point spread at the very least. Predictions for Miami are up and down this season, with a strong majority believing that they will be nothing more than mediocre as they have been in the past. However, no one can predict exactly how well Miami’s offense will be in 2016.

Head coach Adam Gase will run a much more uptempo offense, giving QB Ryan Tannehill more freedom to run the offense than he’s had in the past. Tannehill has a lot of weapons at wide receiver, giving the Dolphins some upside to be a very good offense this season. Surely, they’ll have a tough task against one of the best defenses in the league, but if Miami can find their rhythm, this game could be very interesting.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins are expected to have a tough time containing Russell Wilson. The biggest advantage the Dolphins have on paper this weekend is their D-line against Seattle’s O-line. In addition, news broke earlier this week that Seattle’s first-round draft pick OL German Ifedi, suffered a high ankle sprain in practice and is ruled out for the game.

Miami must use their advantage to apply pressure on Wilson in order to have any shot. Wilson is very mobile, however, and will look to use his legs often. He’s one of the most intelligent quarterbacks in the league, knowing how to buy time for his receivers to get open or take off and run. It’s vital that the Dolphins linebackers and secondary, Miami’s more suspect positions, maintain coverage down field.

If the Dolphins defense can do that all game, they’ll have the opportunity to pull off the upset. I still think Miami will likely fall just short of a victory, but I would love to be wrong in this case. My gut instinct tells me that a late Steven Hauschka field goal will seal a win for Seattle, but thus allowing Miami to cover the spread. We will see come Sunday afternoon though just how well this team has improved under Gase.