For the Miami Dolphins it is not a good time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to gain some momentum. Coming back last week to defeat the Green Bay Packers, behind a rookie quarterback at that, is definitely a significant motivation for the Bucs.
Josh Freeman threw for 205 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first NFL start, only giving up one interception in the process. To aide his efforts, the Tampa Bay defense intercepted three passes from Aaron Rodgers and sacked the Packers QB five times. It was a collective effort to secure Tampa's first win of the season and avoid another 1976 nightmare (when the Bucs went 0-14).
Miami is stuck with a mediocre 3-5 record after losing to the New England Patriots in a defensive struggle against Tom Brady and company. Fortunately for the Dolphins, Tampa Bay does not have any players with the last names "Brady" "Moss" or "Welker" on their roster.
That is no reason to relax for Miami though. Hate to use the cliche, but anything could happen on any given Sunday.
The Dolphins are still favored by approximately 10 points though. Not to mention, they face a good match-up in the run game as the Buccaneers are ranked 30th in rushing yards allowed. If the Wildcat can recapture some of its early season success, Miami should fare well on the ground - which in turn will create potential play action calls to open up the pass game.
Channing Crowder and Joey Porter are still ailing from injuries suffered a few weeks back and may not be full strength for Sunday's game. Expect Reggie Torbor and Cameron Wake to get some more reps in their replacement.
The keys to a Dolphins victory will lie in winning the turnover-takeaway battle and applying pressure to Tampa's rookie QB. This will be Freeman's first start away from Raymond James Stadium. We'll see if a crowd hungry for victory at Land Shark Stadium rattles his composure.
- Sean Smith and Vontae Davis are due for another good game and could find themselves with an interception before game's end.
- The one-two combo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams may prove to be a load to heavy for Tampa's porous rush defense. Look out for Williams to deliver the knockout if Miami's rush begins to roll over the Bucs early.
- Ted Ginn has yet another opportunity to redeem himself in many ways. Whether he ends up returning punts or not, he could be used as a deep threat once again and will be dangerous on kickoff returns. He may just take one to the house on Sunday.