MNF - Dolphins at Buccaneers
November 6, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The Sunshine State is usually a hot-bed for football, but not in the pro ranks this season. The Jaguars finally won a game after an 0-8 start, while the Buccaneers have thrown away several chances at a victory. Tampa Bay looks to break through the win column for the first time on Monday night with a visit from Miami, who in spite of a 4-4 record, has its own off-the-field issues to deal with.
The Dolphins edged the Bengals last Thursday night, 22-20, becoming just the third team to ever win a game in overtime on a safety. Miami squandered a 14-point advantage for the second straight contest after falling apart at New England, but the Dolphins found a way to send the game to overtime against Cincinnati with a late field in regulation. Cameron Wake's sack of Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton in the end zone snapped a four-game skid for the Dolphins, while cashing as three-point home underdogs.
Obviously the biggest storyline in the NFL this week surrounds the offensive line of the Dolphins and the alleged bullying tactics of guard Richie Incognito on tackle Jonathan Martin. Incognito is suspended indefinitely while this investigation continues, while Martin remains in California with a non-football related illness. The absence of those two linemen doesn't help quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has been sacked a league-high 35 times.
The Buccaneers have their own issues with a dreadful 0-8 record, while suffering the biggest meltdown of the season last Sunday. Tampa Bay jumped out to a 21-0 lead at Seattle, looking to hand the Seahawks their first home loss since the end of the 2011 season (11-game stretch). However, the Seahawks erased a 24-7 deficit by scoring the final 17 points of regulation, while Steven Hauschka's 27-yard field goal in overtime kept Seattle's home winning streak and Tampa Bay's winless season intact. The only silver-lining for the Bucs was easily covering as 16-point road underdogs for just their second ATS win of the season.
Surprisingly, the Dolphins have held their own on the highway this season, in spite of a 2-2 SU/ATS record. Miami won its first two contests at Cleveland and Indianapolis as short underdogs prior to the two defeats at New Orleans and New England. Obviously it's been a rough road slate for Joe Philbin's team, already facing three division leaders away from South Florida, but the Dolphins have been outscored 41-7 in the second half of the last two away defeats to the Saints and Patriots.
Greg Schiano's club may be winless, but that doesn't mean they are getting blown out every week. The Bucs have lost four games that have come down to the final two minutes against the Jets, Saints, Cardinals, and Seahawks. Tampa Bay has suffered three setbacks on walk-off field goals, while blowing a 10-0 fourth quarter advantage in a Week 4 home defeat to Arizona. Since Mike Glennon took over at quarterback for Josh Freeman, the former N.C. State standout has thrown eight touchdowns in five games, while not throwing an interception in the last three games.
VegasInsider.com handicapper Antony Dinero says there's no reason to think the Bucs can't win on Monday, "If nothing else, the Bucs just demonstrated they can rise above the drama. Tampa Bay may have dumped its franchise quarterback, quit on its soon-to-be displaced head coach and lost multiple key players to injury, but it nearly went out and won in Seattle. Miami must demonstrate that it can rise above adversity, perhaps taking solace in taking the field in the midst of a nasty controversy with so many layers that it may ultimately tear the team apart. A loss to the Bucs would certainly accelerate that process, but a win would keep them right in step for that final AFC West playoff spot. We're about to see whether Philbin and his staff can be a galvanizing force and if Tannehill is strong enough to put the Dolphins on his shoulders and be the leader his team needs."
The last time these teams met in the regular season came back in 2009, when the Dolphins held off the Bucs, 25-23 as 10-point home favorites. None of the main skill position players from that game are presently with their respective team, so any statistics from that day don't mean much for Monday night's purposes. The Bucs have won each of the last two home meetings with the Dolphins since 1997, taking each game by double-digits. The Dolphins are currently listed as 2 ½-point road favorites, while the total sits at 41. The action gets started at 8:40 PM EST from Raymond James Stadium and can be seen on ESPN.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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