Which of these Florida NFL Trio of Teams is the Strongest?
Florida boasts a proud NFL tradition and with three teams in the state, fans of pro football certainly have no shortage of options if they want to catch a game in the Sunshine State.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins will all be aiming for the playoffs this season, but which of these teams in the Florida trio has the best chance of getting there? Let’s take a look at the history of these three teams, how they’ve started the 2019 NFL season and their chances of reaching the post-season playoffs ahead of the 2020 Super Bowl.
The most recently established of the Florida-based franchises, the Jacksonville Jaguars played their first season in 1995, when they and the Carolina Panthers were part of the NFL expansion that year. Early success came with four consecutive playoff appearances between 1996 and 1999, although times have been leaner since then.
The best run in recent years for the Jaguars came during the playoffs in 2017, reaching the AFC Championship final and narrowly missing out on making their first-ever Super Bowl, losing a tight encounter 20-24 against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
As an outside option to reach the 2019 season playoffs, the Jaguars could prove to be a surprise package worth following carefully. A record of two wins and two defeats is a mixed start for the team after the opening four games, although in the jostle for positions toward the back end of the regular season, they could well be among the genuine contenders bidding to compete in the post-season playoffs. At odds of +6600.00 with sportsbook BetMGM to win the Super Bowl if the Jaguars make the playoffs, making use of BetMGM’s $500 free bet offer could represent an opportunity to take a long-shot at these outsiders.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Joining the NFL along with the Seattle Seahawks as part of the 1976 expansion, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enjoyed some early success between 1979 and 1982, reaching the playoffs three times during that spell. Following a dry period, they became one of the strongest teams around between 1997 and 2007, reaching the playoffs seven times.
This team’s crowning glory came in 2002 when the Buccaneers emphatically won Super Bowl XXXVII, crushing the Oakland Raiders 48-21. This game is often referred to as the “Gruden Bowl” because adding extra spice, Jon Gruden led the Buccaneers to Super Bowl glory at the first attempt, having previously coached the Raiders between 1998 and 2001.
From 2008 to present, the Buccaneers have failed to reach the playoffs, which is a drought that seems likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The lack of overall strength and depth in the current roster suggests they will struggle for honors this season, yet a record of two wins and two defeats from their opening four games would suggest they could still put up a fight. Much will depend on head coach Bruce Arians and how much he can inspire the team.
Arguably the most famous of the Florida teams, the Miami Dolphins are also the oldest and most successful of the trio, although much of that success came early in their history. Following the NFL merger in 1970, the Dolphins won back to back Super Bowl championships. First by going unbeaten for the whole season in 1972 (VII), then triumphing again in 1973 (VIII), along with five AFC Conference championships between 1971 and 1984.
Despite there being inevitable lean spells over the years, the Dolphins have reached the playoffs 23 times since first doing so in 1970. However, the team hasn’t quite managed to recapture former glories over the last two decades, reaching the playoffs on just four occasions since 2000. The last time was 2016, although they failed to progress beyond the wild card playoff bracket.
Starting the current season with a disappointing 0-4 record is hardly what the Miami Dolphins were hoping for, with heavy defeats against the Baltimore Ravens (10-59), New England Patriots (0-43), Dallas Cowboys (6-31) and Los Angeles Chargers (10-30). This would suggest the campaign ahead is going to be very tough unless they can soon start getting some wins together.
On Sunday, Feb. 2, in 2020, Super Bowl LIV will be held at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Looking at performances over recent years and expectations during the current NFL season, it seems highly unlikely that any of the Florida trio will make it to the showpiece championship game in their home state.
By the time the regular season ends and the playoffs begin in January 2020, it’s hard to see the Miami Dolphins or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being in the mix, although there’s still plenty of time to kick into gear and start getting a positive run of results together.
Based on their start to the season and prospects for the campaign ahead, the Jacksonville Jaguars would appear to be the best bet of the Florida teams. Interestingly, it is the team with the least history of success behind them, which could be the best team in the Sunshine State for the foreseeable future.