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.
Who would have thought 6 weeks into the 2013 season that the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets would be competitive teams and not "gimme" games as we banked on at the beginning of the season. Both teams are riding much improved team play behind rookie quarterbacks and strong defenses. That makes Sundays Dolphins/Jills game a very interesting game.
After the first 3 weeks of the season, hopes were high that the Dolphins would be able to finally take the division away from the New England Patriots. However, Miami's poor pass blocking, too many defensive injuries, inconsistent and unimaginary offensive playcalling, and a quarterback that holds onto the ball just a little too long when nothing is open has derailed Miami's AFC East expectations. Let's not forget that the Dolphins took a punishing loss on Monday Night Football looking clueless defensively on how to stop those Saints, only to watch the Patriots with a group of inexperienced receivers defeat those same Saints last week with innovative playcalling and great defensive adjustments to take away Drew Brees weapons giving the Saints their first loss of the season (note: hmmm, definitely a run-on sentence there). I hate to say it, but the difference is the genius of Bill Belichick.
I still have high hopes for the Dolphins this year, but we're still going to see an up and down effort by them as they are young and our offensive line just isn't getting the job done. When you see the lack of development in most of our young offensive linemen, you wonder what the heck is going on. How many years does it take to build an offensive line? I expect the Dolphins to be competitive in every game as GM Jeff Ireland is slowly putting together a young group of playmakers, but an offense and a defense is only as healthy as their linemen are.
Losing at home to a punchless, yet good Ravens team before the bye still hurts. Why did we not win that one? Why did we give up on the running game so early causing the game to be one-dimensional and much easier to defense against us? I will say that Philben and Sherman are quarterback friendly and you can see the real positive impact, but you never give up on the running game when the game is close.
So, what we are now facing is an important game this weekend with the Bills after the bye. Most people feel that the Dolphins should have a nice advantage since the Bills are without their starting quarterback, and their backup quarterback. They will have Matt Flynn who was signed this just this week. Having a bye before a game has only been so-so for the Dolphins as we are 5-5 following the bye week in the past 10 years.
The Dolphins must win this game ... so they can go 14-2, baby;) OK, I am joking, but if we only lived in a perfect world ... like 1972,
One of my favorite players from the Miami Dolphins is former safety Louis Oliver ( I forgive him for being a Gator;) . Oliver was one of our hardest hitting safeties to ever play for the Dolphins, and he had a good eye for making the big play.
If you want to make yourself immortal in our eyes, you've got to play big against our divisional rivals. AJ Duhe will always be remembered for his 3 interception performance in the AFC Championship game against the Jets where he took one of those interceptions 35 yards back for a touchdown. Dan Marino and Bernie Kosar will be remembered for the "fake spike" against the Jets. Louis Oliver will always be remembered for his 3 interception performance (not to mention bringing a TD back on that October 4, 1992 game for 103 yards). In fact, I have a couple of clips of Louis Oliver to share with you.
By the way, will someone rise up in Sunday's Bills game to become the new hero in our eyes?
Skip to 2:44 and 3:25 in the following clip:
It's very amazing to me that after a decade of being very bad, that the Dolphins are ranked as the 10th favorite team in the latest Harris Poll . That just goes to show everyone the influence of what Don Shula and Dan Marino have made on fans of the NFL. With the successful drafting of playmakers and adding Mike Wallace, excitement is catching on once again.
New iPAD Wallpaper
Enjoy this week's iPAD Wallpaper of Ryan Tannehill.
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