Tale of the Tape: Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Football fans will be treated to an all-Florida battle as the Miami Dolphins visit the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this week's Monday nighter.
The Dolphins come into this one fresh off a 22-20 overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals that halted a four-game losing skid and vaulted Miami back to the .500 mark for the season. Things are decidedly more dire in Tampa, where the Buccaneers find themselves the lone winless team left in the NFL.
Here's the breakdown in our betting tale of the tape:
Between quarterback Ryan Tannehill gaining a year of experience and the addition of wide receiver Mike Wallace, the Dolphins had high hopes for their offense coming into the season. So far, those expectations have not been met - Miami is generating just 315.3 total yards per game - among the worst averages in the league - and has produced only 11 passing touchdowns. The running game has improved in recent weeks, but still averages just 97.6 yards per contest.
Tampa Bay's pass attack has been one of the most anemic in the NFL no matter who has been at the helm. Josh Freeman's early-season struggles, combined with Mike Glennon's relative inexperience, have resulted in the Buccaneers averaging just 197 yards through the air - one of only three teams entering Week 10 to sit below the 200 mark. The running game has been equally inept, producing 107.5 yards per outing but registering just one touchdown so far.
The Dolphins have bent but not broken when it comes to pass defense. Miami is surrendering 252 yards through the air per game - putting it in the middle of the pack - but has allowed just nine touchdowns while racking up 11 interceptions. The Dolphins haven't been nearly as effective in run defense, ranked in the bottom third of the league in yards allowed per game (116.5) while allowing nine rushing touchdowns and recovering just a pair of fumbles.
Despite having lost eight straight games to open the season the Buccaneers' pass defense actually hasn't been that bad. Tampa Bay is in the top third in fewest passing yards surrendered (241 per game) but has given up 15 touchdowns while snagging just eight interceptions. The run defense has also been respectable so far in 2013, limiting opponents to 107.5 yards per game and four yards per carry while giving up just four scores all season.
Edge: Tampa Bay
Miami's kick-return unit has been solid to date - averaging 25.2 yards per attempt - but the punt-return game has managed just 62 total yards on 12 chances. The Dolphins are surrendering 24.2 yards per kick return opportunity while holding foes to 8.8 yards per punt return. Rookie placekicker Caleb Sturgis has had an up-and-down season, connecting on just 13-of-18 field-goal attempts - including a 2-for-3 showing in last week's win over the Bengals.
Tampa Bay's return game has been another bright spot despite the winless stretch, averaging a robust 25.8 yards per kickoff return and 8.6 yards per punt return. Opponents are averaging a paltry 21.1 yards per kickoff return attempt versus the Buccaneers, but have an 11.2-yard average on punt returns. Kicker Rian Lindell hasn't been busy, but has been solid when called upon, making 11-of-13 field-goal opportunities.
Edge: Tampa Bay
"We're definitely not beleaguered. At this point in the season we have eight winnable games ahead of us and we could have a very good second half of the season. We're definitely not focusing on the circus you guys have made in our locker room." - Dolphins OL Tyson Clabo, addressing the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin controversy
"I'm 0-8. That's enough on my back. On Monday, when everybody lines up, distractions go out the window ... that's just the way it is. Nobody cares about your problems when you get out there on that field." - Buccaneers OL Donald Penn when asked about the controversy surrounding the Dolphins