As promised, we will continue to monitor both the Buccaneers and the Dolphins chances of making the post-season and with three games to go, both are still very relevant in the playoff picture.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With the Bucs 16-11 win over the Saints Sunday, Tampa Bay maintains its spot at 8-5 as the outright sixth seed in the NFC Wildcard picture. Obviously, the Buccaneers need no other help. They win their remaining three games (tall order), and they are in the playoffs. Tampa Bay has the huge showdown Sunday night at the Cowboys.
As for being tied still with the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC South lead at 8-5 and the potential to host a playoff game as the division champ, here’s the latest: Both Tampa Bay and Atlanta are 3-1 in the South and that will be the first tiebreaker. Both teams finish week 16 and 17 alternating playing the Saints and the Panthers. Those games could decide the division and/or the tiebreaker.
Next tiebreaker will be best won/loss % in common games. This is currently advantage Falcons. They have a one game lead over the Bucs in common opponents and if both win out, Atlanta will get that tiebreaker. So, obviously Buc fans are rooting for at least one more Falcon loss to break the current tie. It also gets crazy with who loses to whom in the last three weeks. So, we won’t go there, yet.
The Bucs are a half game in front of the Redskins (7-5-1) who have two of their remaining games at home and a full game in front of the Packers and the Vikings (7-6). Washington does play the Giants, who currently occupy the five spot in the NFC, in the the final game of the season at D.C. And, Green Bay and Minnesota play at Lambeau in two weeks, and in both of those, someone has to take a loss.
So likely, the Bucs can still lose one of their final three and get in, but that becomes scarier.
As for the Dolphins
Their 26-23 win over the Cardinals Sunday puts them back in the picture for the AFC Wildcard spots. At 8-5 they are back tied with the Denver Broncos, who lost in Nashville for the sixth spot. They did not play this year, and so, Denver currently holds the tiebreaker with a better conference record. But the Broncos have the tougher finish playing the Patriots this week, at the Chiefs and finishing with Oakland at home. All of those teams are contending for not only the playoffs but division titles and home field advantage, etc. It is going to be tough for Broncos to win all of those and they may lose a couple.
The Dolphins finish with three games against the AFC East playing at the Jets this Saturday night, at Buffalo and then hosting the Patriots on New Year’s Day. While Miami is still alive mathematically for the East title, one more Pats win or Dolphins loss ends that. What’s more realistic is the Fins win their next two (albeit on the road) and put themselves in position for the Wildcard.
The good news for Miami is the Ravens lost Monday night and dropped a game back at 7-6. They and 7-6 Tennessee both have won head to head over the Dolphins and obviously, win a tiebreaker against them, if it comes to it.
So, again, the Dolphin best hope is win out and get a Denver loss. Or lose only once, get two losses from the Broncos and at least one more from each of Titans and Ravens.
We will continue to keep track of it all.
Dolphins QB Rosen did little Friday night to win starting job
The ongoing battle for who will start the Dolphins season at quarterback took another interesting turn in Friday night’s preseason game with the Buccaneers. However, the current backup, second-year player Josh Rosen, did little to help his case to unseat veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
New head coach Brian Flores and his offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, obviously challenged Rosen by having him start with the first team and play the entire first half in last night’s second preseason game.
Unfortunately, for Rosen and the coaching staff, he did a little to impress and at times, showed the same shaky quarterback play and bad throws that he did during a mostly dismal rookie season in Arizona. The final stat line read 10-18 102 yards 0 TD and 0 INT, which indicates average half of football.
And, yes there were damp conditions from pregame rain, but Rosen on multiple occasions threw behind or low towards receivers that were open for possible gains. He was also jittery against the Bucs occasional blitz package from new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Rosen was sacked three times and knocked down several others.
A key moment of scrutiny was when Rosen was unable to get the team in the end zone after they got outstanding field position on a Buccaneers 31 yard line midway through the first after fumble buy backup running back Andre Ellington. The Fins moved inside the 10, but Tampa Bay held Miami on fourth down, where Rosen threw incomplete in the right corner of the end zone to backup receiver Isaiah Ford and Miami came away with no points.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 17, 2019
Later in the first half Rosen should have thrown an interception, as he threw the ball right to Bucs rookie defensive back Jamel Dean after throwing late and behind a receiver on the near sideline. However, Dean dropped the INT. Still, Miami punted shortly after.
Coach Brian Flores said after the joint practices with the Bucs this week that Rosen needed to “improve his body language” and leading the team.
Yet, while this was a dress rehearsal, he did little to inspire the Dolphins offense, which only managed 2 field goals even with great field position throughout the first half.
There will still be more opportunity for Rosen in the final two preseason games, and perhaps he will be better.
Better than he was Friday night.
Lots to watch as Bucs host Dolphins Friday night
Week two of the NFL preseason continues tonight, as the Bucs will host the Dolphins in the annual in-state preseason contest. Of course, in typical Florida fashion and typical Bucs vs. Dolphins preseason fashion, the weather is looking like rain will be a factor in the game.
With that being said, here are a few things to watch for tonight:
Dolphins QB Battle:
Josh Rosen and former Buc Ryan Fitzpatrick are still battling for the spot of QB1 for the Fins. Rosen took some first-team reps in practice, and eventually Miami will need to see him work with the ones in a game at some point. Is that tonight is the question?
Also, look for Rosen’s “body language,” as that has been a topic of discussion at the joint practices this week and has been said to be one of his worst characteristics. With the weather being an issue tonight, it will be interesting to see who plays the better game at quarterback the young gunslinger or the veteran, Fitzpatrick.
With Kenyan Drake down with an injured foot, Ballage has an opportunity for the taking tonight. Both he and Drake were sharing reps, and Ballage was expecting expanded work coming into the season. With Drake now hurt, we could see the second year Ballage put a stronghold on the position after a great week of practice.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 14, 2019
Bucs Secondary Depth:
The Bucs have been hit with injuries throughout the secondary positions so far in camp in particular at safety. The Bucs added a veteran safety earlier this week in former Bronco, Darin Stewart. Stewart has already practiced with the team this week and could be a nice added boost to the back end. At Corner, look to see rookie Sean Murphy-Bunting take a step forward in his second NFL game, as well as USF rookie product, Mazzi Wilkins, who will try to keep up a strong camp.
Bucs Back up QB:
Bruce Arians has said Ryan Griffin gives him reasons to keep a third QB on the active roster. Now, Griffin has to keep playing well to restore the faith. Many have thought of Griffin to be the Bucs back up, but Blaine Gabbert has come in and taken that job. Griffin will need to show Arians that a third QB should be active and that it shouldn’t go to another position.
Bucs Rookie Matt Gay has lit up with what could compared to a “bazooka” right leg. With his long 60-yard kicks in camp, fans are taking videos in practice. This is excellent news so far, but none of this means a thing when kicking in practice.
After hitting a Heinz Field record 55-yard attempt last week in Pittsburgh, Gay will look to continue his success from camp into game action as he looks to lock up the kicking spot on the roster.