Miami Dolphins (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8 SU, 2-6 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date and Time: Monday Night Football, November 11 2013 at 8:40 p.m. EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
TV: ESPN/DTV 206
by Vesper Abadon, Pro Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mia -4.5/TB +4.5
Over/Under Total: 41
The Miami Dolphins snapped their four-game losing streak against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 9 thanks to an overtime walk-off safety (just the third in NFL history) by Cameron Wake. Theyre sitting at 4-4, and with a kind second-half schedule, they could vie for a Wildcard spot and possibly even the AFC title. Its a stretch, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
Unfortunately the Fins good fortune quickly dissipated with the scandal involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Incognito is suspended indefinitely, and its safe to assume he wont be playing for the Dolphins again. The team has had offensive line issues all year long Ryan Tannehill has been sacked a league-high 35 times and the loss of both Incognito and Martin is going to hurt.
That puts extra pressure on Tannehill to lead the offense. Hes done a decent job thus far going 175 of 289 for 1,977 yards, 11 touchdowns, and nine interceptions which makes him the 15th-best QB in the league with a rating of 80.8. Even so, the Dolphins boast a lackluster 21st-ranked passing game. Brandon Gibson is gone to injury, and despite catching 36 balls for 480 yards, wide receiver Mike Wallace has yet to live up to expectations. He and Tannehill have yet to synch up, but you can expect the team to average more than 217.6 passing yards per game (YPG) if and when they do.
On the ground, the Dolphins average 97.6 YPG, which gives them the 22nd-ranked ground attack in the league. Definitely not impressive, but the good news is its getting better. Second-year running back Lamar Miller had his first-career 100-yard game against the Bengals, which brought his season stats up to 93 carries for 448 yards (4.8 Avg) and two touchdowns. The Dolphins need to keep nurturing their run game if they hope to contend.
This week the Dolphins will travel south to take on the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers, a team that is anything but a contender. At 0-8, theres
little to be excited about for Tampa Bay fans considering they rank 31st
in the league for points (15.5), yards (304.2 Avg) and passing yards (196.8
Avg). The only bright spot for the Bucs is their 18th-ranked rushing game,
which is averaging 107.5 YPG. Unfortunately that was due in large part to
Doug Martin, who (despite his intention to return) is likely out for the
season with a torn labrum.
Likewise, the Bucs passing game took a hit when they lost wide receiver Mike Williams for the season and opted to part ways with quarterback Josh Freeman. That leaves quarterback Mike Glennon, running back Mike James, and wide receiver Vincent Jackson to lead the team. With the exception of Jackson, that triumvirate doesnt exactly inspire confidence though admittedly James 158-yard performance against the Seattle Seahawks last week was impressive.
Speaking of which, the Bucs put up a heck of a fight against the Seahawks in Week 9. They were up 21-0 at one point, but they ended up losing 27-24 in overtime. Who knows what the future holds for the team, but it appears the players are behind head coach Greg Schiano. The Bucs are rebuilding, and quite honestly theyre in the same spot the Dolphins were a couple years ago. Theyll turn things around, just not this year.
Vespers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Dolphins seemed to have turned a corner by finding a way to win against a tough opponent. They need to keep that ball rolling, and one would think theyd do that with ease against the Buccaneers. Those who think that should think again.
The Bucs are not to be taken lightly, and theyre bound to upset a team at some point this season. Their defense is doing their part, and if James can run for as much as he did against a stiff Seattle defense, well there just might be hope for the offense yet. There are two GIANT issues here. The offensive line is the heart and soul of an NFL team. Miami’s was already bad, now it’s missing 2 of it’s strongest members. This will create huge problems for run blocking, pass protection and timing. All of the negative turmoil and media attention has to be weighing on the Fins mentally as well. Tampa Bay wins straight up here.