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 being investigated for hiding severity of Tannehill shoulder injury
For the most part everyone already understands that the NFL’s injury report that is loosely utilized to judge whether players can play or not. For three or more decades, teams have done their best to hide the significance of important injuries from everyone, including their opponents, while listing whatever they can get away with on the injury report.
And now, the Miami Dolphins are about to be the latest team to be scrutinized for what they did report about QB Ryan Tannehill injured shoulder a week ago.
As Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald wrote on Wednesday afternoon, the league is investigating the Dolphins for having listed Ryan Tannehill as having fully participated in practice on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. But then, listed him as limited for Friday and questionable for the game:
NFL to investigate Miami Dolphins reporting of Ryan Tannehill injuryhttps://t.co/tt76zfcdng
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) October 17, 2018
Specifically at issue, according to Salguero is that Tannehill was apparently unable to throw passes for most or all of Thursday’s practice while being listed as a full participant.
Further, he did not participate at all in the Friday workout, which should have led to the Fins labeling him as “doubtful,” because they knew the extent of the injury and that he couldn’t throw.
We now know that Tannehill suffered a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder in the fourth quarter meltdown loss to the Cincinnati Bengals the week before . and really had no possibility of playing in the Chicago game as the week went on.
That’s another point of contention for the investigation, because Miami coach Adam Gase never said any of that prior to the game. However, he admitted as such after the game Sunday (Tannehill couldn’t throw/was doubtful all weekend), and repeated it on Monday, as well.
And more confirmation that the shoulder has been injured so bad is: Tannehill was still unable to practice on Wednesday and the Dolphins have already ruled him out for Sunday’s game at home with the Lions.
The Fins announced that backup Brock Osweiler will start for the second consecutive week. Osweiler threw for 380 yards, three touchdowns and led the game winning field goal drive in the final minute of overtime against Chicago.
The league does have consequences for teams not being forthcoming, especially hiding significance of injuries with the most prominent players on their roster and their injury statuses.
They have reprimanded and fined teams, like the Patriots for an example, for not being forthcoming about injuries. Coach Bill Belichick responded one year by listing 25 players on his injury report one week for an upcoming game.
Most likely, the Dolphins will get a fine, if it can be proven that they were purposely misleading everyone, including the Bears when they knew the severity of Tannehill’s injury earlier last week.
And clearly they were, and did.
Dolphins WR Albert Wilson named AFC Offensive Player of the Week
The Dolphins knew that wide receiver Albert Wilson had big play potential, and now, that he has delivered early in 2018, others are seeing that potential realized too.
Wilson was recognized on Wednesday as the AFC Offensive Player-of-the-Week coming off of his two touchdown 155 yards receiving performance in the Miami thrilling when 31 – 28 over the Bears in overtime Sunday:
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) October 17, 2018
Wilson has become known for his ability to gain yards after the catch, and his spectacular 75-yard weaving catch-and-run to the endzone tie the game late in regulation.
His big receiving day was part of Brock Osweiler filling in for injured quarterback Ryan Tannehill on short notice to throw for over 380 yards in the victory.
The Dolphins were hopeful that the additions of Wilson, Danny Amendola and drafting tight end Mike Gesicki from Penn State would provide offensive spark. So far, Amendola and Gesicki have not given much in the way of productivity.
Now, it looks like snagging Albert Wilson off Kansas City’s roster in free agency last March was the right move by VP of football Mike Tannenbaum, GM Chris Grier and coach Adam Gase.
Sunday was Wilson’s first 100 yard receiving game in the Aqua and White and he is now averaging 15.6 yards per catch through Miami’s first six games.
And, Wilson has becoming one of the top big-play threats after the catch in the AFC, he even threw a touchdown pass to Jakeem Grant on a trick play in the win over the Raiders in week two.
Look for the creativity from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to continue to get Wilson into space and have the ability to make big plays continuing with this week’s match-up with the Detroit Lions.
Dramatic win moves Dolphins up in our Power Rankings
Our latest version of the F.F.I. Power Rankings will cause some debate. This is especially with an NFL moving into the top 3 and a brand new team making it’s debut. Take a look:
5. FIU Panthers- With the Canes, Jags and Bucs all losing, the fifth spot was up for grabs. The Panthers are currently 4-2 and on top of Conference USA’s East division. The Panthers two loses are against power five schools Miami and Indiana. FIU is led on offense by quarterback James Morgan a transfer from Bowling Green. Morgan has thrown for 1,368 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. Morgan will look to stay hot against Rice this week.
4. USF Bulls- The theme of the rest of these teams wins will be it wasn’t pretty. The Bulls needed a late last-minute drive and a pass from Blake Barnett to Tyre McCants with only several seconds left and a Coby Weiss’ 22-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to sneak by Tulsa. Jordan Cronkrite was able to rip off another big run of 66 yards but aside from that was held in check.
Barnett struggled during the game, and we even saw appearances from back up Chris Oladokun. The Bulls were able to squeak this one out and remain undefeated going into their homecoming game against UCONN.
3. Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins go from unranked to the number three spot. They were able to defeat a Bears team that has been impressive this season. The Khalil Mack-led defense had their least destructive game. Brock Osweiler threw for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdowns in a relief appearance for Ryan Tannehill, who sat out because of an injured throwing shoulder. Frank Gore had a resurgence. Albert Wilson turned two short passes into long touchdowns. Rookie kicker Jason Sanders (above) was money all day, and the Phins squeaked one out in overtime. At 4-2 they move into our top 5.
2. Florida Gators- The theme of close wins continues. The Gators were in a close one with Vanderbilt all afternoon. Tensions were high, when both coaches were yelling at each other by the Gator sideline after the benches briefly spread onto the field. The Gators were hurt by early turnovers and red zone struggles, but were able to put together enough offense to comeback for another win. Four SEC wins in a row (two on the road) is impressive. The Gators head into the bye week to prepare for a game against Georgia that now could decide the SEC East.
1. UCF Knights- The Knights had the closest of all the close calls last week, but remain in our top spot. UCF coach Josh Heupel gambled and went for it on a critical 4th down and the result was a 71-yard rushing touchdown. The Knights would take the lead in the 4th quarter. The Tigers moved to the UCF territory but, botched clock management in the final 30 seconds derailed a comeback. The Knights somehow found a way to win this game and keep the streak at 19 wins. UCF will head to East Carolina where they will look to have an easier time.
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