Week 7 Primer: Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins: Week 7 Primer
The Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins square off in Miami on Sunday for a division game. This is the first game that the Dolphins are playing inside the division while the Bills are already 0-2. It's an important game for both teams. The 3-2 Dolphins would love to win and be at 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the division and primed for a possible playoff push. Meanwhile, the Bills are 2-4 and need to get back closer to .500 and badly need a division win.
The Dolphins will be well rested coming off of their bye week. They will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak after falling to the Saints and Ravens heading into their bye. For the Bills they are on a 2 game losing streak of their own. They'll give the ball to Thad Lewis for the second straight week in relief of E.J. Manuel. Lewis needs to limit his mistakes and keep his head on a swivel in the pocket against the Dolphins' tough pass rush.
On the other side, Ryan Tannehill needs to protect the ball himself. He's been the most sacked QB this year and the Bills have racked up a ton of sacks on the season so far. If you like sacks then you will probably enjoy this game. It will ultimately come down to who can work around the sacks and make big plays and who can run the ball better.
The heat may be a factor for the Bills coming down to Miami, as it always is this time of year, and that combined with the extra rest for the Dolphins may be an issue for Buffalo. If they get out of Miami with a win, I feel that it will be a well-earned one. Here's a look at the matchups for Sunday.
Dolphins' Pass Offense vs Bills' Pass Defense
The Dolphins are right in the middle of the back in passing offense at No. 15. On the other hand the Bills are the No. 11 passing defense in the league. Tannehill takes a lot of sacks and with the pressure that Bills DC Mike Pettine likes to bring I'd imagine he is going to see plenty more on Sunday. The Bills will key on stopping the big plays on offense and hope that Tannehill makes some mistakes. The Bills will also hope that Jairus Byrd and Stephon Gilmore are more acclimated this week after spotty returns to the lineup last Sunday.
Bills' Pass Offense vs Dolphins' Pass Defense
The Bills will rely on Lewis again on Sunday. He played well last week but was sacked five times. He must improve his pocket presence against a tough Dolphins pass rush or he could be in for a long day. It will help to have veteran Stevie Johnson back in the line-up. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bills try and take some more chances downfield with T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin like they did last week. If they find a matchup they like look for them to exploit it. The main thing will be for Lewis to protect the ball, which he did on all but one play last week. Even one turnover could kill the Bills in this game.
Dolphins' Rush Offense vs Bills' Rush Defense
The Dolphins had high hopes for their rush offense coming into the season but it hasn't computed. They are 29th in the league in rushing. If the Bills have a weakness it's in their rush defense. They are the fifth worst rush defense in the league. It's an interesting dynamic because this may be the area that decides the game. If the Dolphins can get their weak run game going against the Bills then it could be a long day for Buffalo. On the flip side if the Bills can hold the Miami run game then they can pin their ears back and get after Tannehill.
Bills' Rush Offense vs Dolphins' Rush Defense
It will be no surprise when the Bills try to ram the ball down the Dolphins' throat because that's what they do. Expect to see a bit more of C.J. Spiller as he works his way back from a knee injury. He made some nasty cuts last week but had to come out of the game after each one. We'll see if he can put more pressure on the knee this week. Expect to see a lot of Fred Jackson and designed runs for Lewis as well. The Dolphins are 15th in the league against the run and will need a big effort against the Bills. If the Bills have a big day running the ball it could neutralize the home-field heat advantage for Miami.
Final Score Prediction: Dolphins 27, Bills 24
The odds are stacked against the Bills this weekend. Going into the Florida heat against a well-rested team with a back-up QB is not the ideal scenario. I expect them to fight, as they have all season, and I expect Lewis to be at least as good as he was last week. Those factors will be too much for the Bills to overcome however. I see the Dolphins hitting a few big plays and holding off the Bills enough to get to 4-2. For the Bills another loss might be a fatal blow to their playoff chances but such is life in the NFL with your backup QB in the lineup.