The Miami Dolphins will look to end a three-game losing streak when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Miami's season is quickly slipping away, following a promising 4-2 start. Tampa Bay has struggled this season as well however and has yet to win on the road. With a game they need to have, the Dolphins will once again have an off-field story surrounding them.
On Saturday morning, Miami waived Rey Maualuga following an arrest. Maualuga had seen action in recent weeks and collected a number of tackles. Mike Hull will pick up extra playing time, following Maualuga's exit. Maualuga joined Miami in the off-season and missed time early on due to some conditioning issues.
The Dolphins have struggled defensively as of late, after beginning the year solid on that side of the ball. With Ryan Fitzpatrick behind center for Tampa Bay, it is likely that Miami will have to defend against a busy running game. That is an area that the Dolphins could have some trouble in. If the Buccaneers can get a rhythm going on the ground, the playbook will really open up for the veteran Fitzpatrick.
Miami's offense has improved, but is nothing spectacular itself. Jay Cutler has had an inconsistent season and has been picked off six times. Cutler does have seven touchdowns in his last three games combined, while also throwing the ball plenty. It is likely that Cutler will once again sling the ball into the air around 40 times in this one. Last week, only 59% of those attempts landed up successful and that is a number that has to improve in this game.
Miami was originally set to host Tampa Bay to begin the season, with this week serving as a bye week for both teams. Due to Hurricane Irma, plans changed and both teams will now be playing for an 11th straight time. Fatigue has been evident at times and it could also explain some injuries that Miami has dealt with this season.
William Hayes is the only Dolphins player listed as questionable on this week's injury report. In what could be considered a rare sight, Miami was able to practice almost completely as a team this week. Whether that preparation shows in this contest remains to be seen. Head coach Adam Gase has been vocal with his displeasure this season over some mental mistakes. Some of those errors could be blamed on injuries leading to diminished playing time.
Sunday's kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.