Game Scout: Dolphins at Buccaneers

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


Miami Dolphins (4-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8)
Monday, 8:40 p.m. ET, at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa - TV: ESPN
*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
*Keys to the game: The Bucs remain competitive on a weekly basis thanks to a vastly underrated defense that is solid against the run and pass despite being constantly backed into a corner by their own fledgling offense. The ground game received a spark from rookie Mike James last week, who must do damage against the league's No. 21 run defense. The Dolphins' secondary will give up yards through the air, and Bucs QB Mike Glennon has gone 141 pass attempts without throwing an interception. If Tampa Bay can control the clock and avoid turnovers, it will keep this a tight contest. The Dolphins vow not to be distracted by the Jonathan Martin situation, and on the field they have plenty to build upon. RB Lamar Miller is emerging as a true feature back, helping set the stage for QB Ryan Tannehill to stretch the field. Tampa Bay has difficulty rushing the passer with just its front four so it must contain Miller and get after Tannehill on third-and-long.
*Matchup to watch - Tannehill vs. Bucs LB Lavonte David: Tannehill has committed 14 turnovers to go with being sacked 35 times this season. He'll need to be aware pre-snap of David, who is one of the league's underrated defensive playmakers. David helps bolster the pass rush, contributing a combined 20 sacks, hits and hurries this season.
*Player spotlight - Dolphins LG Nate Garner: The veteran is expected to get the call in place of suspended Richie Incognito.
*Fast facts: Seven of Tannehill's 10 career completions of 40-plus yards have come this season. ... Under Schiano, the Bucs are 0-7 in games decided by a field goal or less.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano has to be enjoying a week in which the focus isn't on his frayed relationship with many of his players. The gut reaction here, however, is the Dolphins' players are more angry than distracted by the Jonathan Martin situation and will band together for a solid road win.
*Our pick: Dolphins 23-16