TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-6) AT MIAMI DOLPHINS (4-5) SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1:00 P.M. ET HARD ROCK STADIUM (64,767) NETWORK TELEVISION: FOX PLAY-BY-PLAY: DICK STOCKTON ANALYST: MARK SCHLERETH SIDELINE: SHANNON SPAKE BUCS RADIO: 98ROCK, FLAGSHIP STATION (WXTB-97.9 FM) PLAY-BY-PLAY: GENE DECKERHOFF ANALYST: DAVE MOORE SIDELINE: T.J. RIVES LAST GAME: TAMPA BAY WON VS. N.Y. JETS, 15-10; MIAMI LOST AT CAROLINA, 45-2
PewterReport.com Publisher and Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
Can the Bucs win a second game in a row for the first time this season? Can Tampa Bay finally get a road win in 2017? When the opponent is the Miami Dolphins the answer to both of those questions is “probably.” The Bucs should win in Miami against a Miami team that is in disarray, especially after getting trounced in Carolina on Monday Night Football, 45-21. The only team that may be playing worse defense on the road than Tampa Bay is Miami. The Dolphins allowed 548 yards with 294 yards on the ground, averaging 8.2 yards per carry against the Panthers.
The Bucs defense hasn’t held opponents to less than 30 points on the road in four games this season. But without running back Jay Ajayi, who was traded to Philadelphia two weeks ago, can the Dolphins even score 30 points against the Bucs? Can Tampa Bay’s offense score more than 15 points in a game, which is something the Bucs haven’t done since the Buffalo game a month ago?
How will Ryan Fitzpatrick perform in his second start with the Bucs – and with wide receiver Mike Evans back in action? Will Evans’ return spark the offense to score more points as cornerback Xavien Howard really struggled on Monday night? Will Tampa Bay be able to (finally) run the ball against an opponent for over 100 yards and have success for four quarters?
Will the Bucs defense build off last week’s performance and continue to pile up sacks? Will the secondary begin to pick off more passes? These are all good, important questions that neither I – nor head coach Dirk Koetter or defensive coordinator Mike Smith – have the answers to, unfortunately. All I can say is that the Bucs simply have to score more points than they have in the month of November on offense and start playing defense away from home like they do at Raymond James Stadium.
To put it bluntly, this is a battle of two sucky teams and whichever team sucks less will win this game. Neither team has found consistency on either side of the ball, so whichever team is more consistent will win the game. I think the Bucs are more talented, but they have lost to teams with lesser talent this year. If Tampa Bay can’t beat the hapless Dolphins, who have been outscored 112-45 in the last three games, in Miami, then I honestly don’t know if they will win a single road game this year.
Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Bucs Win 24-23 Reynolds’ Pick To Click: LB Lavonte David
PewterReport.com Editor and Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook
With an awful day of news on Friday, this team could go one of two ways. Rally and ignore the distractions, or say the heck with it, this team is a mess right now, and tank. The good news is, I don’t see the second scenario happening. Not this week anyway. If the Bucs do manage to get a repeat performance of last Sunday from the defense, they have a chance. But I don’t have a ton of confidence in Ryan Fitzpatrick being able to carry this team on this shoulders and arm. The defense needs to play on the road this week, like they have at home.
There aren’t many more games left on the schedule where I feel great about the Bucs chances, so winning this game is huge. Lose on Sunday and there may not be another win all season. However, get the win on Sunday, which makes two in a row, and maybe the team gains the confidence it should have, and goes on a streak.
I see this being a low scoring affair, with the team with the fewest turnovers getting the win. The good news is, the Dolphins offense has been bad for the most part all season. At least the Bucs offense has playmakers. It is time to unleash O.J. Howard, and get Cam Brate back into being a focal point of the offense. And for crying out loud, get the ball in DeSean Jackson’s hand at least 10 times against Miami.
I hope Dirk Koetter is using the “us versus the world” mentality this weekend to motivate this team. Right now any buzz about this team nationally is extremely negative. Use that to play with a chip on your shoulder and go beat a team you are better than. Cook’s Score Prediction: Bucs Win 20-10
Cook’s Pick To Click: DeSean Jackson
PewterReport.com Buccaneers Beat Reporter Trevor Sikkema After the Buccaneers’ 17-3 home loss to the Carolina Panthers, I said that I couldn’t really envision myself picking the Bucs many more times this season, if at all.
Well, this week is one of those week – and it might be the only one.
I’m not trying to overreact to a win over a bad Jets team. Though the Bucs defense did a lot of good things for the first time, the offense was still less than ideal. Staring running back Doug Martin got 20 carries but only gained 51 yards. The offensive line is not playing the way they need to as a unit, and because of that I think we’re seeing Martin trust his line less and less – you can see it when he tries to find other running lanes early after getting the ball.
Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick came away with a win in his first game as a starter in 2017, which is commendable, but against most other teams in the NFL, 15 points would not have been enough. There were more than a few times where the Bucs could not capitalize on good field position, whether it be a turnover or a good special teams play, and the limitations in the passing game were a reason for that.
Statistically, though they did give up over 500 yards of offense last week against Carolina, the Dolphins are right around the middle of the league in terms of holding their opponents to marginal yards on the ground and through the air. The problem with Miami is that it’s not a consistent middle; it’s either really good or really bad. Miami has been shut out twice this season, 20-0 to the Saints and 40-0 to the Ravens. Then somehow they rattled off three wins against the Titans, Falcons and Jets, but have then dropped three in a row to the Ravens, Raiders and Panthers.
The pendulum of the NFL says that Miami should have a win coming up this week to get them back to an oddly-predicted .500 season. However, with the Bucs defense playing the way they did last week, I’m taking Tampa Bay. If the Bucs stay aggressive on defense with close coverage and blitzes, they can really get in the head of Miami quarterback Jay Cutler, and if you know anything about Cutler, that means turnovers.
I say The Bucs keep up the pressure, and rookie safety Justin Evans gets a big takeaway that makes the difference in an ugly game.
Sikkema’s Score Prediction: Bucs Win 16-10 Sikkema’s Pick To Click: S Justin Evans
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: email@example.com
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.