NBC 6 Weekend Football Preview: Dolphins Make Return to Field For Season Opener

For the past two weeks, sports in the state of Florida took a back seat to the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma. From Key West all the way to the panhandle, residents of what - for the last week - hasn’t always been the Sunshine State have started the slow road to recover.

Last weekend, both college football and NFL teams in the state either cancelled or postponed games with Irma on the move. The Miami Dolphins had to move their opener with Tampa Bay to November, meaning they will play 16 straight games.

All three college powers – Miami, Florida State and Florida – cancelled their games along with USF and UCF postponing their games and FIU moving their game to Alabama.

This week, Irma’s impact forced the postponed of the much anticipated Miami-FSU game to October 7th while FIU and UCF both cancelled their games. The Dolphins will finally get their season underway all the way on the other side of the country.

While Florida continues their return to normalcy, we do the same here at and grade on a scale that goes up to four peacocks for a game that can’t be missed.

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Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers

The Fins escaped the storm by heading out to the west coast, the first of 16 straight weeks they will be in action. The first opponent is a Chargers team who will be playing their first regular season game in the City of Angels since 1960 after having moved from San Diego this offseason. The teams met last season, with the Dolphins coming out on top.

It will be the regular season debut for Jay Cutler as Miami’s quarterback. After a decade in both Denver and Chicago, Cutler will be tasked with trying to lead the Dolphins to back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in over a decade and a half (a five season run from 1997 to 2001).

Los Angeles is expected to be one of the bottom feeders in the AFC West this season, so Miami will likely start off the year with a win.

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Tennessee at Florida

Amid reports that this game might be moved out of Gainesville after Irma, the SEC East contest will take place as scheduled inside The Swamp on Saturday – and for the first time in a dozen seasons, the Gators come into the contest not having a winning streak over the Vols after Tennessee got their first win in the series last season since 2004.

The Gators will stick with Feliepe Franks at quarterback, who got his first start in the opener against Michigan before being benched in place of Malik Zaire. Florida struggled on offense, scoring just three points on that side of the ball in the loss to the Wolverines.

The defense, which has been a strong point in past seasons, picked off two Michigan passes and returned them for scores – but also gave up 33 points in the loss.

Other State Games

In the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were supposed to play the Dolphins this week, will open their season at home against the Chicago Bears. Many experts have picks the Bucs to make the playoffs this season, led by third year quarterback Jameis Winston.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, who surprised many by winning their opener last week against the Houston Texans, will return home Sunday to face the Tennessee Titans.

In college football, Friday night the 22nd ranked USF Bulls will be in action when they host Illinois. The Bulls cancelled last week’s game at Connecticut over concerns about returning home after the game.

Florida Atlantic will go after their first win of the season when they take on Bethune Cookman at home Saturday. The Owls have lost their first two games of the season to Navy and Wisconsin. That same day, FAMU will be in action when they travel down to Tampa for a showdown with Tennessee State.

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