The 3-2 Miami Dolphins, coming off a much needed bye week take on the 2-4 Buffalo Bills in a key AFC East matchup for both teams. As mentioned earlier, the Dolphins are coming off a bye week, but the Bills are coming off a tough overtime lost at home to the Bengals 27-24.
Let's take a look at the 2 teams as we head towards the 1:00 kickoff on CBS regional coverage.
Offensively, the Dolphins come into the game ranked 27th in total offense generating 316.6 yards per game. They rank 15th in passing offense at 247.0 yards per game, and are 29th in rushing offense generating 69.6 yards per game. Miami is averaging 22.6 points a game, which comes in at 16th in the league. They face a Buffalo defense that ranks 27th in total defense giving up 395.0 yards per game. The Bills rank 22nd in pass defense giving up 270.0 yards per game and 28th in rushing defense giving up 124.2 yards per game. The Bills rank 23rd in points allowed giving up 26.2 points per game.
Let's not beat around the bush here. The biggest key to this game offensively for the Dolphins will be the play of an offensive line that has struggled tremendously. All the blame cannot go to the offensive line for the struggles of the run game and the 24 sacks that have been given up, but a large majority of the blame does go to this unit. No changes were made during the bye week, so this group needs to pick up their play, PERIOD. The Dolphins face a Bills defense that gives up 124.2 yards a game rushing, and this would be a great game to see RB Lamar Miller get off along with RB Daniel Thomas and the run game. QB Ryan Tannehill has been very solid, with a 85.5 rating. He has 6 touchdown passes and 5 interceptions though, and those numbers need to get better in regards to the TD to INT ratio. Considering the intense pressure he has faced though, the numbers are solid. Wide receivers Brandon Gibson, Brian Hartline and tight end Charles Clay have been very solid for the Dolphins, but their biggest investment of the off season, WR Mike Wallace has been inconsistent in his play and he and Tannehill certainly do not seem to be on the same page. That has to change for the Dolphins to be able to fully utilize Wallace and his speed. The one thing the Bills do well defensively is sack the quarterback, as they have 20 sacks for the season. DE Mario Williams has 8.0 sacks, and this is were the Dolphins will have to be ready to offset the one strength the Bills have. Miami should have success offensively today, and it will be very interesting to see the game plan OC Mike Sherman put together.
Defensively, the Dolphins come into the game ranked 25th in total defense giving up 393.0 yards per game. Miami ranks 27th in pass defense giving up 287.6 yards per game, while ranking 15th in rushing defense. Miami ranks 20th in points allowed giving up 23.4 points per game. The face a Buffalo offense that ranks 16th in total offense, generating 344.2 yards per game. The Bills rank 28th in pass offense at 195.3 yards per game, but rank 3rd in rush offense generating 148.8 yards per game. The Bills are averaging 22.7 points a game, which ranks 17th in the league.
Miami really needed the bye last week, as it allowed DE Cameron Wake additional time for his knee to get healthy along with CB Dimitri Patterson, who has not played since the 1st game of the season against the Browns. DT Paul Soliai also needed the additional time to let his knee heal as well as LB Darnelle Ellerbe, who was dealing with a shoulder injury. Miami is facing a Buffalo offense now lead by QB Thad Lewis, who had a decent game against the Bengals last week, but is still a QB that has played very little. The Dolphins pass rush has fallen off a good bit since Wake got hurt, and the Dolphins come into the game with 13 sacks. The key to this game is containing the Bills potent 1-2 attack in the run game with RB Fred Jackson and C.J Spiller, who is expected to play today. The Bills rank 3rd in rushing and will want to try to get the run game going to take pressure off of Lewis. WR Stevie Johnson has been hurt a good bit of the season, but he is still dangerous, and rookie WR Robert Woods has given the Bills a nice complementary player opposite Johnson. TE Scott Chandler has to be accounted for, as he is 2nd to Fred Jackson in catches with 20. With Soliai now healthy, the run defense should improve, and with Cameron Wake now back, the pass rush will improve as well. Stop the run and make Thad Lewis beat you in the pass game is a recipe for a Dolphins win.
Miami cannot afford to let this game slip away with AFC East heavy New England up the following week. The Dolphins are coming off a bye and should be as healthy as they have been since the beginning of the season. With that said, I see the Dolphins winning this game 27-14.
Let's Go Miami.