The AFC East has been an interesting division to pay attention to this season. At one point and time all four teams had at least a .500 record seeming to all be in the hunt for the title. Since then, three of those teams–the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets–have lost eight of their last nine games collectively to leave just the New England Patriots above .500 and ready to waltz with the division crown again.
This week on Thursday Night Football two of the floundering three teams, the Dolphins and Bills will do battle at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo with both division pride and a last gasp to reach the postseason both on the line.
The Dolphins offense is currently ranked 26th in total yards gained per game (323.9 yards), 25th in points scored per game (19.2 points), 21st in passing yards gained per game (218.4 yards) and 19th in rushing yards gained per game (105.4 yards) while their defense is ranked 22nd in total offensive yards allowed per game (372.2 yards), 28th in passing yards allowed per game (278 yards), fifth in rushing yards allowed per game (94.2 yards) and eighth in points allowed per game (20.7 points)
Miami’s rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has had a 2012 full of ups and downs which is why the Dolphins have the record which they do. This season Tannehill has passed for 1,979 yards, five touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing just 58.9% of his pass attempts.
If the Dolphins want to win this game and get back to .500 they are going to need a solid performance out of Tannehill and two things that can help him with that is a good game from the running attack as well as the receivers making plays for the football when opportunities arise.
This means that Reggie Bush (126 carries for 555 yards and 4 TD this season) must have a fine game running the ball plus Brian Hartline (49 receptions for 741 yards and a TD) and Davone Bess (42 receptions for 536 yards) must make plays for Tannehill down field and across the middle.
On the defensive side of the ball Miami will rely on Karlos Dansby (69 tackles and a sack) and Cameron Wake (8.5 sacks, tied for 6th in NFL) to make all the necessary plays and stop the Bills offense whenever they can.
The Bills offense hasn’t been too bad this season and currently ranks 14th in total yards gained per game (358.7 yards), 25th in passing yards gained per game (215.6 yards), sixth in rushing yards gained per game (143.1 yards) and 16th in points scored per game (23.4 points) while their defense has been completely disgusting all year and ranks 21st in passing yards allowed per game (246.3 yards), 31st in total offensive yards allowed per game (410 yards) and 32nd in both rushing yards allowed per game (163.7 yards) as well as points allowed per game (31.7 points).
Buffalo is going to have to play some defense if they want to avoid their seventh loss of the season this week; plain and simple. The Bill defense has been their Achilles heel all season long as they haven’t been able to stop anyone in almost any situation and unless Mario Williams, Nick Barnett and company don’t do more than this game could get ugly quickly.
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been placed in come from behind situations all season long which is why even though it may not seem like it at first, he’s having a pretty good season (2,011 passing yards, 17 TD, 10 INT and completed 62.5% of his attempts).
Bills running back C.J. Spiller has put together a special type of season thus far and Buffalo will need him to do the same in this game in attempts to mask the gaping hole which is their defense. Spiller has rushed for 632 yards and four touchdowns on just 87 carries which is good for 7.3 yards per carry while also hauling in 28 receptions for 297 yards and an additional trip to the endzone. That is a total of 929 all-purpose yards on 116 touches which is almost an average of 8.1 yards per touch and leaves myself along with a gang of others wondering; why don’t the Bills find more ways to get the ball in Spiller’s hands?
I love Spiller, I even think Fitzpatrick is a capable quarterback but I loath the Buffalo defense which is why I simply can not pick them is this game and that’s not saying that I think highly of Miami because I don’t; I just simply loath the Bills defense. I’ll take the Dolphins in this 31-27.