Top 3 Individual Matchups
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Kick coverage – Buffalo has been a top five kick coverage unit all season and it’s not because they’ve kicked the ball through the back of the end zone. Bruce DeHaven’s unit has had to make tackles and have done a solid job all season. Miami’s kick return unit is a subpar 20th in the league.
Best advantage – Pass game – The Bills have said they won’t let two bad games change who they are and they shouldn’t. Buffalo’s offense evolved into a prolific attack due to their spread formations and knowing that Miami has not been stellar defending the pass (25th in NFL) there should be opportunities that the Bills can exploit.
Bills Number 1 Must
Minimize big plays – Two of the last four touchdowns scored against Buffalo went for 30 yards or more. The Bills have to keep the big plays to a minimum to force Miami’s offense to go 10 or 12 plays to have a scoring opportunity. The Dolphins defense has been picking up steam the past two weeks, so preventing any quick strikes will help in keeping their offensive momentum in check.
Reggie Bush was not going to be a complementary weapon in Miami’s offense. That was the plan when they signed him. But not until the past three games have the Dolphins really leaned on him to produce with the exception of Week 1. In the last three games Bush has had an average of 17.5 touches and he has rewarded the Dolphins for doing so. In that span Bush has 313 yards from scrimmage and has rushed for more than half his season total on the ground (242). He also has three touchdowns.
Defense tightening up
Miami’s defense got off to a rough start the first two weeks against New England and Houston, but after ranking 22nd against the run following their first two games, the Dolphins have steadily increased their run defense ranking to 10th in the league. In two of their last three outings Miami’s ‘D’ allowed fewer than 65 yards rushing to the Giants and the Redskins. Perhaps even more impressive is they have not allowed a touchdown by an opponent over the last two games. They’re particularly tough in the red zone where they’re allowing touchdowns just 38% of the time good for 2nd best in the AFC and 5th best in the league.
One thing Miami’s defense hasn’t done much of is take the ball away. Though they had two interceptions in last week’s game, they have just six total takeaways on the season. That’s tied for fewest in the league with Pittsburgh. The Dolphins pass defense has been victimized for just as many touchdowns as Buffalo’s defense (14). Opposing quarterbacks have compiled the sixth highest passer rating in the league against Miami (94.7) and are completing 61 percent of their passes. The Dolphins secondary has been bit by the injury bug and has had a lot of moving parts which has hurt their continuity, but they are finally healthy now.
Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano isn’t necessarily a go-to guy the caliber of a Brandon Marshall in Miami’s passing game, but he has been clutch in crunch time for their offense this season. Whether it’s a big third down conversion or a big play down the seam Fasano has delivered this season when given opportunities. He’s only fifth on the team in receptions, but he leads the team in receiving average at 16.7 yards per catch and leads the receiving corps with three touchdown receptions. The offensive staff of late has even moved Fasano out wide away from the line to use him more in space. Heading into this game however, Fasano has been slowed by an ankle injury.
Miami went back in time by rolling out the Wildcat formation a couple of seasons ago, and now they might be headed down that road again. Last week against Washington they rolled out some new looks. On the very first play they ran a flea flicker out of the Wildcat, which resulted in a direct snap to Daniel Thomas who flipped it to Reggie Bush, who in turn flipped it to Matt Moore, who tried to hit Brandon Marshall downfield. The Redskins broke up the play.
Early in the game the Dolphins also went to a T-formation look in their backfield with Bush, Thomas and Lex Hilliard all lined up behind Moore in the backfield. The play wasn’t very successful either, but it’s an indication that Miami offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has license to try just about anything to move the ball or catch an opponent off guard.
Dansby leaner and meaner
Dolphins LB Karlos Dansby’s play was substandard at the start of the year, due mainly to the fact that he was 20 pounds overweight coming out of the lockout. Now back in fighting shape Dansby play has picked up considerably. With 27 tackles in his last three games, Dansby’s best outing may have been last week when he had a sack and interception to go along with 10 tackles and a pair of pass breakups.
Quote of the Week
“We just have to go out there and play. We need to put ourselves in the right position. They call the plays. We have to go out and there and make it no matter what the call is. We need to go out there, be productive and just play ball.”
Stat of the Week
The Dolphins are 11-5 under Tony Sparano in the month of November and currently have won their last three in this month.
Milestones in reach
Stevie Johnson needs six receptions for his second straight 50-plus catch season.
The Bills have won four of their last five against the Dolphins in November.