The Miami Dolphins are sitting on the fence in the AFC playoff picture – they’re not in an advantageous position, but they’re not in deep trouble, either. Moreover, the Dolphins certainly should be able to win their ninth game of the season. They’re playing one of the only two winless teams in the entire league. Should the Dolphins lose this game, they would then be in dire straits, but as long as they do what they’re supposed to do, they shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Monday, November 11th – 8:30 PM ET
Sun Life Stadium – Miami, FL
Odds: Miami -1.5
Why The Dolphins Can Cover The Spread:
They are the better team, without question. This is not so much a reflection of Miami’s strengths, but of Tampa Bay’s weaknesses. The Buccaneers had a right to think that they were finally going to win their first game of the 2013 season this past Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. They led 21-0 and then 24-7 with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter against the team with the best record in the NFC. However, Tampa Bay punted on each of its remaining possessions in the game, totaling just three first downs the rest of the way. The Buccaneers did make an impressive interception of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson on a first-and-goal play from the Tampa Bay 3, but other than that one display of resolve, the Buccaneers looked like a frightened team in the final 25 minutes of the second half plus the overtime period. Seattle scored the final 20 points of the game and beat the Buccaneers, 27-24. Tampa Bay reminded everyone around the league how bad a team it was and is. The team had victory in its grasp and then went into a protective shell. The Buccaneers stopped playing and showed that they are still not ready to put together a complete game in the NFL. As long as the Buccaneers play no more than two really good quarters each game, any decent opponent is going to beat them with four solid quarters. Miami certainly rates as a decent team. The Dolphins have enough of a defense to keep the Buccaneers bottled up. They should be fine as long as quarterback Ryan Tannehill doesn’t make big mistakes on Monday Night Football. As long as the Dolphins handle the emotional aspects of this situation, the football Xs and Os should take care of themselves. Tampa Bay will not be able to match Miami in terms of execution and physical strength. That’s why the Dolphins will cover the spread.
Why The Buccaneers Can Cover The Spread:
Their opponent is just bad enough to make this a game in the fourth quarter. You saw Tampa Bay push Seattle this past week, an indication that the Buccaneers are capable of winning their first game of the season. Miami will need to help the Bucs get that elusive victory, but the Dolphins can certainly be accommodating. The Dolphins have been blowing leads with regularity all season long. They beat Cincinnati in overtime only because Bengal quarterback Andy Dalton inexplicably took a sack in the end zone by not bringing the ball to the one-yard line. If Tampa Bay can play the way it did in the first half against Seattle, the Buccaneers can definitely beat the Dolphins and create a panicky performance from Miami.
The Buccaneers nearly beat Seattle on the road, and that opened some eyes around the league, but Tampa Bay still lost that game and will probably suffer a letdown here. Miami should win comfortably. Bet the Dolphins here.
Pick: Miami -1.5