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Dolphins Scouting Report - Week 15

Posted Dec 19, 2013

The rematch with the Dolphins pits two teams that have split their last four meetings.


Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Cordy Glenn vs. Olivier Vernon –
The Dolphins pass rusher has quietly accumulated 11.5 sacks on the season and is peaking with seven of those in his last five games. Glenn has been solid all year, so the matchup is one worth watching.

2 – Leodis McKelvin vs. Mike Wallace – Miami’s deep threat has laid some good groundwork with his quarterback and is starting to turn in more big plays. McKelvin however, has had the most consistent season of his career at cornerback and he has seldom surrendered big gainers in the pass game.

3 – Jerry Hughes vs. Bryant McKinnie – The veteran offensive tackle was acquired after the Bills played the Dolphins the first time. Hughes could present speed issues that prove difficult for McKinnie to handle.

Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Run game –
The Bills have the best running game in the AFC, and though they averaged just three yards a carry in the first meeting with Miami, it’s their meal ticket for creating favorable down and distance to move the chains.

Best advantage – Pass rush – Buffalo’s pass rush has been solid all season, but it’s peaking right now with 16 sacks in their last four games. Going against a Miami offense that has given up a league-leading 51 sacks the Bills should be able to disrupt the Dolphins’ passing game.

Bills Number 1 Must
Win third down percentage –
Buffalo was able to pull out a tight road win over Miami back in Week 7 in part because they were able to handily win the third down conversion battle. The Bills with Thad Lewis at quarterback converted a season-high 47.4 percent of their third downs (9-19). Meanwhile Buffalo’s defense held the Dolphins to just a 23 percent conversion rate on third down opportunities (3-13).

Scouting Eye
Tannehill closing strong
The Dolphins quarterback did not have his best game against the Bills back in Week 7, but he is closing his second NFL season strong. Over his last seven games, Tannehill has completed more than 65 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and just five interceptions with a passer rating of 93.7. In the month of December he’s been even better with eight touchdowns against two interceptions and a passer rating of 103.2. Miami is 5-2 in their last seven games.

Two-minute specialists
When it comes to scoring points the Dolphins do it best at the end of the half or near the end of the game. Miami ranks first in the league in two-minute offense with 36 points scored in such situations this season. Their highest-scoring quarter is the second quarter where they’ve tallied 110 points, good for fourth best in the AFC. The Dolphins also stand third in scoring at the end of the half with 69 thus far this season.

Takeaway streak
The Bills may rank third in the league in interceptions, but Miami is more consistent when it comes to logging takeaways. The Dolphins have forced 23 turnovers compared to Buffalo’s 27 this season, but Miami has at least one takeaway in every game they have played this year. They are the only team in the league that has done that through 14 games in 2013.

Coming up short
One area where Miami’s offense has struggled has been in short yardage. Already the 22nd ranked offense in the league when it comes to third down conversion percentage at just under 36 percent, the Dolphins find short yardage on third or fourth down even tougher. In third and fourth-and-one situations Miami converts about 52 percent of the time, which ranks 31st in the NFL. On 4th-and-1 the Dolphins are the worst in the league converting just 25 percent (1-4).

No passing fancy
The Dolphins have been stout when it comes to holding down opposing quarterbacks. Miami has held opposing quarterbacks to a 77.1 passer rating this season, good for fourth-lowest in the NFL and second-lowest in the AFC. That rating goes down even further for Dolphins’ opponents when Miami blitzes. In blitz passing situations, opposing QBs manage just a 68.1 passer rating against the Dolphins.

Still not big on the run
Since their first meeting with the Bills the Dolphins have improved their run game tacking 25 yards onto their average, which is now up to just over 95 yards per game. Still, they rank 29th in the league in total rushes this season (315) as they run the ball just a shade over 35 percent of the time (35.5%). They average a respectable 4.2 yards per carry, but have just eight rushing touchdowns on the year. Miami also has an injury in their offensive backfield as Daniel Thomas is dealing with an ankle injury.  

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the Week
“If we can’t be in (the playoffs) we don’t want them to be in. We got a lot of respect for the guys on their team. They’re good players, they’re a good team. But we don’t want division teams thinking they can come in and beat us whenever they need to. Three years ago, I think we spoiled it for them. We’d love to do it again.”
--C Eric Wood
  
Stat of the Week
Ryan Tannehill had his lowest completion percentage game of the season against Buffalo back in Week 7. The Dolphins quarterback completed just over 51 percent of his passes in the first meeting with the Bills as he was 19-37 for  194 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Milestones in reach
Scott Chandler needs to receptions to post the first 50-catch season of his career, which would mark just the second ever by a Bills tight end (Jay Riemersma, 53 in 2001).

Jerry Hughes needs one sack to record his first career double-digit sack season.

Fred Jackson needs 44 rushing yards to become the third player in team history with 5,000.

Final Note
The Bills defense has held opposing quarterbacks to the fifth-lowest passer rating in the league this season (78.5).