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Scouting Report - Week 17 - Bills-Dolphins

Posted Dec 29, 2017

A fast start is a must for the Bills against a team that has been outscored by more than a 2:1 margin in the first half this season.


Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Kelvin Benjamin vs. Cordrea Tankersley
Neither player was on the field for the first meeting between the teams. Both were out due to injury. Miami may choose to have their top corner, Xavien Howard, follow Benjamin, but if not this could be a big edge for the Bills in the passing game against the Miami rookie.

2 – Vladimir Ducasse vs. Ndamukong Suh
Ducasse had one of his best games of the season against the perennial Pro Bowl defensive tackle. He’ll need to have a repeat performance while getting some assistance from Eric Wood.

3 – Kyle Williams vs. Mike Pouncey
Pouncey has been dealing with a nagging hip injury that has made him less effective in the pivot. It could present Buffalo’s veteran defensive tackle with some opportunities in passing situations.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Takeaway ability
Buffalo has ranked in the top 10 in turnover margin all season long. Their defense just got another interception return for a touchdown last week. They also picked off Jay Cutler three times in the first meeting with the Dolphins. Miami is tied for the second-most interceptions thrown this season.

Best advantage – Red zone offense
Buffalo may have been 0-for-4 in the red zone last week, but that wasn’t the case the first time they played against the league’s 30th ranked red zone defense. Buffalo ranks a very average 18th in red zone touchdown efficiency, but the Bills went 3-for-3 in the red zone against the Dolphins in their first matchup.

Bills Number 1 Must
Fast start –
The Dolphins have nothing to play for in this game, other than to be a spoiler for Buffalo’s playoff hopes. If the Bills can get up on the scoreboard early, much like they did in the first meeting, it could convince Miami to fold their tents and run for the bus sooner, rather than later.

Scouting Eye
Flags still flying
To say Miami is undisciplined when it comes to drawing penalties would be an understatement. The Dolphins have the second-most penalties assessed against them in the NFL this season. They had seven for 60 yards in their first meeting with Buffalo. They trumped that last week at Kansas City committing 11 penalties for 75.

There have been three games this season in which Miami has surrendered more than 100 yards due to penalties. The biggest problem is at the line of scrimmage. False starts and offensive holding are the two most frequent calls against the Dolphins. Defensive offside isn’t far behind. Defensive holding and Unnecessary roughness round out the top five infraction calls.

Which Cutler?
Jay Cutler is a talented quarterback, but also one of the most inconsistent. He’ll have a stellar performance against the New England Patriots one week and then toss three interceptions against the Bills the next. One trend that likely has the Dolphins encouraged is Cutler has five touchdowns and just one interception in his last two games at home against division opponents. He also has a 100-plus rating in three of his last five home games. Cutler’s career passer rating against the Bills (5 games) is 75.1 with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Not run oriented
There aren’t many NFL clubs that lean as heavily toward the run game as the Bills. Miami however, might be at the complete other end of the spectrum. Averaging just 86 yards rushing per game, the Dolphins rank 28th in the league. That lack of production is largely rooted in their play selection.

Miami ranks 31st in the league in rush percentage. The Dolphins choose to run the ball just a shade over 36 percent of the time.

Trailing a lot
The Dolphins are 6-9 on the season and there are several reasons why. One that can be easily identified is their propensity to fall behind in games. Miami has been behind on the scoreboard almost 60 percent of the time in their games in 2017 (59.6%). Part of the problem is rooted in the Dolphins slow starts this season.

They’ve been outscored by better than a 2:1 margin in the first half this season as they’ve scored 108 points in the first half and given up 209.

Only the Cleveland Browns have trailed in games more often (63.7%) than the Dolphins.

Tough starts
Defensively, Miami has trouble slowing teams at the beginning of the game and the start of the second half. They rank 23rd in the league when it comes to giving up points on their opponent’s opening possession where they’ve surrendered 30 points this season. Buffalo was one of those teams, putting up a touchdown on their opening drive in Week 15.

The Dolphins are even worse coming out of the locker room after halftime. They’ve given up 52 points to their opponents on their first possession of the second half. That is good for last in the league.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the week
“I’ve been on the other end of these. They’re going to want to finish their season strong. They’re at home. They’re going to want to defend their place. I’m not thinking for one second that they’re going to lay down. They’re going to want to finish their season strong and we know that. We’re going to have our hands full this weekend. So we’ve got to go down there and execute.”
--C Eric Wood

Stat of the week
Tyrod Taylor in five career games versus the Dolphins has thrown nine touchdown passes and no interceptions with a passer rating of 115.6. He’s also run for a pair of touchdowns.

Milestones in reach
Charles Clay needs six receiving yards for his fifth straight 500-yard receiving season.

LeSean McCoy needs 46 yards from scrimmage to post his fifth season of 1,600 scrimmage yards.

Tre’Davious White needs one interception to become the first Bills rookie with five interceptions since 2009 (Jairus Byrd).

Final note
In his past seven games on the road versus AFC East opponents, Tyrod Taylor has 1,701 pass yards (243 per game) with 8 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 95.6 rating. 

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