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This is the first team TB gets to face with a winning record at home this year. Both teams are off of dramatic wins with ATL becoming the 1st team to win a game with an 0-5 ratio since Bart Starr in 1967 as they took advantage of a horrid QB situation by ARZ. Freeman (278 ypg, 16-3 ratio the last 6 weeks) and RB Martin (148 ypg, 6.1 the last 4 weeks) have become a formidable duo but those numbers were posted vs the #32 schedule and not a nine-win team. TB’s #32 pass defense is allowing 298 ypg passing and 70.6% at home now has to face the competitive Ryan who’s tossing for 70.1% with a 14-3 ratio on the road. Last week was also only the 3rd time in his career he’s tossed 3 or more int’s and the game following in the previous 2 times he completed 74% with a 4-1 ratio. Despite having a full 3 game lead over the Bucs they are well aware of the excitement building in Tampa and will go all out to ensure they squash that enthusiasm. Contender vs pretender!
PHIL’S FORECAST: ATLANTA 31 TAMPA BAY 21
The early season excitement in South Beach has been tempered with 3 straight losses. The Dolphins rushed 42 times per game for 178 ypg in weeks #2-4 but Bush has struggled as team quickly realized they could play 8 man fronts and Miami has avg’d 63 ypg and 2.9 ypc the last 5 games. What’s more concerning that in that stretch they didn’t face a defense ranked in the top 14 and in their last 2 games they’ve TOTALED 439 yards and 29 FD’s versus the number #29 and #31 D’s. Seattle’s bye clearly negates the travel. Since the opening month, they beat Carolina and lost to a pair of top 10 defenses by only 11 total points. Seattle is bursting with confidence as they believe they can catch SF as after playing their first 3 division games away, faces them all with their 12th man in the final 4 games. It was thought Caroll’s rah-rah attitude wouldn’t work but this team is playing excited and will prove it on the road.
PHIL’S FORECAST: SEATTLE 24 MIAMI 13