Florida’s AFC Hopes: Will the Dolphins or Jaguars Fare Better in 2023/24?

As we await the start of the new NFL season, Florida residents will take up where they left off last term. Which Florida franchise will hold bragging rights in the AFC this season? As in 2022/23, will the Jacksonville Jaguars have a better season than the Miami Dolphins? Or will the Dolphins rally after the disappointment of their three-point loss to the Buffalo Bills in last season’s Wild Card Playoffs?

Only last week we saw a curtain-raiser to the upcoming main event when the Florida rivals met in a pre-season game in Jacksonville. In the end, the result was not important. A fourth-quarter collision left the Dolphins’ rookie wide receiver Daewood Davis prone and in need of urgent medical attention. The officials called the game early due to Davis’s injury with the Jaguars leading by 31 to 18.

The good news is that the hospital released Davis the following morning. The young player is currently under assessment according to the NFL’s concussion protocol, but the signs are good that he’ll be training soon.

What did the game tell us, though? Although the Jaguars led by 13 when the game was called, home advantage played its part. Both teams had some standout performances but, in general, the Jaguars dominated, as the score suggests.

For Jacksonville, starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw 92 yards. He completed eight of his ten passes while on the field. The Jaguars were strong on offense while Lawrence directed matters, completing 168 yards. 

Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley, on his Jaguars’ debut after a season-long gambling suspension, finished with three receptions for 50 yards. These included a 28-yard completion caught as he was going out-of-bounds.

Stand-out performances by the Dolphins were harder to find. Tua Tagovailoa started at quarterback, playing two sessions and completing four of six passes for 67 yards. Skylar Thompson replaced Tagovailoa, finishing the game with 15 from 24, 135 yards, and two interceptions.

The scoreboard somewhat contradicted the pre-season odds for the two Florida outfits. With the first matches of the season taking place on September 10, most sportsbooks have the Dolphins favored over the Jaguars for the Super Bowl. Their odds aren’t that different though – the Dolphins are currently priced at 14/1 while their state rival’s odds are at 16/1.

Current gambling regulations in Florida allow for online sports betting on paper. In a June 30 ruling, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a previous District Court decision. The original 2021 ruling had suspended legal online sports betting operations in the Sunshine State. 

This ruling in favor of regulated sportsbooks in the state remains in the appeals process, though. As such, there are currently no regulated sports betting platforms operating within Florida. The signs remain positive that Floridians will legally be able to place bets on their favored NFL teams soon.

Many hope this may even happen during the upcoming season, allowing Jaguars and Dolphins fans to start backing their team and showing their support.

Once the regular season starts we will more accurately be able to assess which of Florida’s AFC franchises should fare better in 2023/24. The Miami Dolphins have a rough start to the season with three of their first four games on the road. 

With the last of these against early Super Bowl second favorites, the Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins need to start well. Their AFC campaign starts on September 10 as underdogs against the Chargers in Los Angeles.

Conversely, the Jacksonville Jaguars have three home fixtures among their first four. They start their AFC campaign against the Denver Colts in a game they should win easily, even away in Denver. Thereafter, the Florida team hosts the reigning Super Bowl holders and current NFL favorites, the Kansas City Chiefs. This fixture should reveal a lot about their season’s prospects.

It seems that both Florida franchises have difficult starts to the AFC season. Early results could potentially have the ability to build or stall momentum for the rest of the season. On face value, the results of the draft may slightly favor the Dolphins, but pre-season form favors the Jaguars. 

The results of the early season AFC games could provide a clearer sign of what lies ahead for both Florida outfits. Until then, it’s best to watch the odds at the sportsbooks for further guidance.

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