The longest gap between regular season games in the history of history (well, at least it feels that way) ends tonight as the Miami Dolphins get back on the field with a Monday Night Football contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Who has the advantage? We take a look.
|Dolphins passing offense vs. Tampa Bay pass defense
Dolphins pass offense: 20
The story line heading into this game for the Miami offense is obviously the turmoil on the offensive line. People panicking over what the Dolphins will do at left tackle does not make sense to me, given Miami traded to bring in Bryant McKinnie three weeks ago, but, the story line of Miami having to replace their entire left side of the offensive line makes more sense, I guess. The Dolphins used the five starters they will have tonight for most of the game last week, so it is not like they are throwing a line out there with zero experience with each other. Tampa Bay has an impressive secondary, especially if they continue to use Darrelle Revis in more man coverage. The Buccaneers are not exactly the best pass rushing unit, which is what usually slows down the Miami passing game. Look for Ryan Tannehill to have success tonight.
|Dolphins rushing offense vs. Tampa Bay run defense
Dolphins rush offense: 24
This is going to come down to who executes better. Miami has struggled with the run this season, mostly because they abandon it in the second-half week-after-week. The Dolphins did have their first 100-yard rusher of the season last week, and seem to have figured out that Lamar Miller can carry the ball effectively. Tampa Bay has been strong against the run, but was off last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Whichever team comes in and plays up to their potential will win this battle - and give the Dolphins incessant need to quit running at the drop of a dime, the advantage will likely be the Buccaneers.
|Buccaneers passing offense vs. Miami pass defense
Buccaneers pass offense: 28
The Miami defense is getting healthy - even if Dimitri Patterson, who is doubtful tonight, won't be able to play - so the 25th ranking should start to move up, and facing a young quarterback in Mike Glennon could be exactly what they need. Cameron Wake should be licking his chops tonight, looking to back up his AFC Defensive Player of the Week award from last week. This should be all Miami.
|Buccaneers rushing offense vs. Miami run defense
Buccaneers rush offense: 18
This one is so tough to predict. Can the Dolphins run defense finally start playing like they should? Or, will Mike James, who has filled in for the now-injured reserve placed, Doug Martin, be able to find success? James ran for 158 yards last week against a Seattle defense that does not like to see teams have success, so that could bode poorly for Miami.
|Dolphins special teams vs. Tampa Bay special teams
Once again, I give this to Miami thanks to Brandon Fields. Caleb Sturgis is hopefully coming out of his funk as of late, and can start connecting on kicks again. Tampa Bay's Rian Lindell was horrendous to start the year, but seems to be coming around.
Both teams want this game more than as just a normal regular season game. Tampa Bay is looking to get rid of the zero in the win column, especially now that they are the last team to have not won thanks to Jacksonville's performance yesterday. Miami clearly needs to win to show people they aren't a team falling apart. The AFC playoff picture is open for the Dolphins, if they can take it. I think they keep Tampa Bay winless tonight, and keeps the playoffs within reach. Final: Dolphins 27-20.
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