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Phinfever blog writer, Gary RameyYour Christmas present is the fact your Miami Dolphins are in the drivers seat for their first playoff appearance in 8 years.  The Buffalo Bills are really all that stands between Miami and the promised land  The Bills, while mathematically alive, need a lot of teams to lose to get in. There have also been rumors about Rex’s Job being in question over the past few weeks.  A win over Cleveland last week has shelved talks about him being fired for at least another week. Sounds like a pretty easy thing….right? Well Miami hasn’t won in Buffalo since 2011…the last time Matt Moore was the QB. Buffalo’s defense wasn’t as good back and they’re a team known to circle the wagons.

                On paper the Bills are slightly better than Miami. Their rush defense is lousy but 2 notches above Miami in stats and their pass defense is slightly better as well. Offensively, the Bills are statistically better in the rushing department because Taylor has 500yds rushing from the QB position.  Miami has a slight edge in passing. These teams are so close in all aspects, they’re almost identical. Buffalo has a pretty good pass rush lead by Lorenzo Alexander and Jerry Hughes that has generated 38 sacks this year. Their secondary is pretty good too which has lead to a 8th overall ranking in total pass defense. Both teams are bottom 5 in stopping the run. 

   This game might boil down to how well Miami is able to contain Lesean McCoy and Taylor in the running game.  Mike Gillisee adds some punch in the 3rd down department as well. Miami throughout this season have given up pretty good chunks of yardage on 2nd and 3rd down when they’re expecting a pass.  Buffalo isn’t going to beat them throwing the ball however they can beat you with those 4 just by running it. This is definitely a game where you want to play more zone than normal.

                Miami’s offense will distill down to Ajayi having a better game than he’s had since the last Buffalo encounter. They don’t need 200yds from him but they need more than the 50yds he has managed over the last 4 games.  Miami’s OL has to do better. They can’t use Pouncey’s absence as a crutch. Many of those runs in the first game had nothing to do with Pouncey but you sure couldn’t tell it from the past 4 games. Guys are not getting to the 2nd level and more times than naught, Jay is dodging guys in the backfield or LOS. Buffalo will come to snuff the run early. Let’s hope Gase lets Moore throw a couple of deep balls to see if he can connect and loosen them up some. While Moore has to be careful this game not to turn the ball over, they still need him to put it up and let his WRs make plays.

Go Matt Moore,

GD2

The Good

 

Shaking several years of cobwebs and dust off, Matt Moore came in and absolutely shredded the Jets. In only 18 pass attempts, Moore completed 12 for 236 yards and 4 TDs. With the lone blemish being an interception on an underthrown deep ball. Not bad at all for a guy who has been collecting dust on the shelf for several years. Moore attacked downfield early and often against a weak Jets secondary and a Jets team that decided to put 8 men in the box all night to stop Jay Ajayi. Moore made them pay. Particularly impressive was a 52 yard deep ball for a touchdown to Kenny Stills who was running a post. The Jets brought a blitz and Moore stood tall to take the hit and deliver the throw.

 

Jarvis Landry certainly helped Moore's stat line. He took a 5 yard slant and turned it into a 66 yard catch and run for a touchdown. One of the knocks on Landry coming out of college was his lack of speed. Well, it didn't seem to be a problem on the play as he outran the entire Jets defense.

 

Dion Sims continues to show he is developing as a pass catcher. Yes, it was only 4 catches for 31 yards. But two of those were touchdowns. He also had an impressive 28 yard catch on a ball that was underthrown. He was able to shake off the defender and fight for the ball, then he literally dragged another defender to the 1 yard line, setting up his second touchdown catch of the night.

 

Cameron Wake is back, better than ever. Aside from tallying another sack (10.5 on the season), he also intercepted a pass while dropping back in coverage. The first of his career. Wake got the trifecta with a sack, forced fumble and interception in the same game. The last player to do that was Jason Taylor in 2006.

 

Tony Lippett is developing into a stud right before our eyes. Yes, he still has some work to do, but he's getting there. Lippett had two interceptions. Particularly impressive was the first one on a deep throw. Lippett was in excellent trail technique and was able to adjust to the ball in the air and intercept the pass. It was one of the most impressive interceptions I have ever seen. He now has 4 interceptions on the season.

 

Huge kudos to Xavien Howard, who has missed most of his rookie season. But he came back with a vengeance. Howard had the unenviable task of covering Brandon Marshall most of the night. Marshall ended the night with 1 reception for 16 yards. Howard, much like Lippett, was excellent in trail technique on deep throws, and was able to position himself to deflect the pass. He ended the night with 3 pass deflections.

 

All of a sudden, the future at the cornerback position is looking very bright for the Dolphins.

 

Overall, the defense played well, amassing 3 sacks and causing 4 turnovers. The Jets were 5 of 15 on 3rd downs. The most noticeable blemish being allowing 5 yards per carry and 116 yards on the ground.

 

Walt Aikens is a special teams demon. Last week, Aikens returned a missed extra point back for 2 points and had a terrific play on a punt that pinned the Cardinals down at the 1. This week, Aikens literally did everything, blocking the punt, recovering the ball and returning it for a touchdown. This is the type of guy we need to keep around so that our special teams can continue developing.

 

The Bad

 

The Dolphins need to figure out how to get the running game going. Granted, the Jets were stacking the box to stop Jay Ajayi and the passing game made them pay. But late in the season, when the weather can become a factor, you need to be able to run the ball. I know Pouncey is a huge part of the offensive line, and the center position is key to running the ball, but the other four guys need to step it up.

 

As mentioned before, the Dolphins need to shore up that run defense. Buffalo leads the league in rushing. New England is 8th. Most of the teams in the playoff hunt can run the ball (Houston, Oakland, Pittsburgh), so if we make the playoffs, that's what we would need to stop.

 

The Ugly

 

Calling out penalties here. The Dolphins defense is the most penalized in the NFL. The Dolphins contributed 9 more penalties this week. Two of them were defenseless receiver penalties on Isa Abdul-Quddus that were iffy, but overall, there is a lot of work to be done here by the team.

 

Overall

 

The Dolphins are guaranteed a winning season for the first time since 2008. But it won't mean much if they don't make the playoffs. With Denver playing New England this week, the Dolphins have a good chance of holding onto the 6th seed. But to make it, they need to keep winning. 10 wins is the goal and the best chance to do that is in Buffalo next week.

 

 

 

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