FROM THE OTHER SIDELINE : DOLPHINS
By Leo Haggerty & Jason Rubin

Tampa Bay finally travels to south to play Miami in the make-up of the season opener.  For that reason, I’ve titled this contest the Irma Bowl.  Humor me, OK?

The Bucs are 3-6 coming of a 15-10 home victory over the New York Jets.  That still leaves the Pewter Pirates in the cellar of the National Football Conference South division.

The Dolphins are 4-5 after being shellacked by the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte to the tune of 45-21.  That leaves the Fish in third-place in the American Football Conference East division.

To say this is a must-win for both teams is an understatement.  To add expert insight to this conversation, we go back to our AFC East correspondent Jason Rubin.

Below are answers to the “BIG 6” questions that only he, with his keen observation and numerous AFC East contacts, can provide.  Enjoy.

LH : With all these two franchises have been through since the beginning of September, do we need to call this the Irma Bowl?

JR : That name would be quite fitting Leo. It was a crazy time here in Florida. Both teams were displaced for some time. I actually evacuated my family as well. It’s great that they are able to play this game.

LH : I think it’s huge that both teams lost their bye week and have to play 16 weeks straight.  Are the Dolphins as tired as the Bucs seem to be right now after 10 strainght weeks of pro football?

JR : Absolutely and it doesn’t get any easier. Bill Parcells always said “no excuses, and you are what your record says you are” and that you can take to the bank.

LH : Was the Dolphins trade of RB Jay Ajayi to the eagles a good move for Miami?

JR : My sources tell me the Fins didn’t have a choice. As young and as talented as he was, when you are trying to establish a culture of winning with a new coaching staff, sometimes you have to make an example of certain guys when they won’t buy in. Ajayi had to go.

LH : Can the Fins win without QB Jay Cutler under center?

JR : No. Absolutely not

LH : You are what your record says you are. I think both Tampa Bay and Miami expected to be better than they are.  What has been the main problems with the Dolphins?

JR : Finishing games. Good teams find a way to win close ones and they’re just not there yet. If Cutler can stay healthy then I think they can make a run and surprise people.

LH : OK, J-Rube, I have the Bucs winning in South Florida this Sunday 23-17.  Tampa Bay will shorten the game by running the football and limiting the number of Dolphins possessions.  What’s your call?

JR :  I like the Fish over the Bucs. I see a close game with Miami’s defense showing up and forcing Fitzpatrick into enough turnovers to pull it off. Dolphins 24-21.