Top 3 Individual Matchups
1. Terrell Owens vs. Sean Smith –The rookie was the beneficiary of some solid pass pressure by his teammates up front in the first meeting. With a different QB for Buffalo, Smith figures to be tested a lot more coming off of Owens best week as a Bill (9-197, 1TD).
2. Jonathan Scott vs. Joey Porter –A week after being a healthy scratch, Porter returned with a vengeance posting two sacks in the win over Carolina. Falling behind in the first meeting with the Dolphins didn't do Scott any favors as Porter and the other Miami pass rushers knew what was coming. Scott and the rest of Buffalo's line will need an improved performance.
3. Shawn Nelson vs. Gibril Wilson –The Dolphins have had trouble at times covering tight ends this season. Nelson has shown flashes the past few weeks since returning to the lineup. He could be a viable threat in the middle to help pull attention from the top targets outside.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage –Kick return – The multi-faceted Fred Jackson has shown an ability to boost another area of the team as his kick return average is a solid 26.6 yards per return. It's helped Buffalo post the sixth-best average drive start for their offense (28.3 yard line). Conversely, Miami's kick coverage has struggled ranking 29th in average drive start surrendered (29.2 yard line).
Best advantage –Pass defense - Buffalo ranks ninth in the league in pass defense and it's not just because teams have success on the ground against the Bills. Perry Fewell's defense ranks ninth in the league in passes defensed with 52. They also rank eighth in yards allowed per completion (10.77). Miami ranks 30th in the league in passing.
Bills #1 Must
Red zone offense –Buffalo successfully moved the football last week agains the Jaguars, but they were still 0-for-3 in the red zone when it came to scoring touchdowns. A penalty took one red zone TD off the board, but if they're able to get down there against the Dolphins they'll have to have a much higher touchdown percentage than they've had thus far this season (26.1%) which is worst in the league.
Run Ricky RunWith Ronnie Brown lost for the season with a Lisfranc foot injury, Ricky Williams has more than capably picked up the slack with back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts. Leading the team in rushing yards with 677, rushing average (5.3) and touchdowns (8) Williams is coming off just the second three-touchdown game of his career last week at Carolina. In his career versus the Bills, Williams averaged 4.7 yards per carry.
Nicked up linesThe Bills aren't the only team dealing with injuries on the offensive and defensive lines. Dolphins starting NT Jason Ferguson was placed on injured reserve earlier this week and starting center Jake Grove is nursing an ankle injury. Miami left guard Justin Smiley is also working his way back to the lineup after missing parts of two games with a shoulder injury.
Expected to spell Ferguson at nose tackle is Paul Soliai with some rotational help expected from Randy Starks and Tony McDaniel.
Less Wildcat?With Ronnie Brown the primary ball handler in the Dolphins' Wildcat formation, Miami made less use of that formation against Carolina with Brown now out for the season. They ran a more conventional rushing attack with Williams, but the Dolphins could increase the presence of it in the coming weeks and this Sunday if they choose to make greater use of rookie QB Pat White. White could serve in the same role as Brown in the Wildcat formation and is a greater threat to throw out of that formation having been a former college QB at West Virginia.
Moving the chainsDespite having the 30th ranked passing offense in the NFL, the Dolphins have been very proficient at converting third downs this season. Miami ranks second in the league in third down conversion percentage with a 49 percent success rate. The Dolphins strong running game has put them in a lot of favorable down and distance situations leading to a high rate of conversions. Only Indianapolis is more successful than Miami at converting third downs.
Dolphins pass rushThe Dolphins feasted on Bills QB Trent Edwards sacking him six times in the first meeting with the Bills. Cameron Wake had a coming out party with three in that first matchup with Buffalo. Jason Taylor had a pair of sacks as well with DE Randy Starks accounting for the other.
Joey Porter was playing hurt in that first game against Buffalo and was a healthy scratch two weeks ago. But Porter returned to the Miami lineup in Week 11 and promptly posted a pair of sacks. He also had a pair of sacks in his last meeting against the Bills on the road on Dec. 7, 2008.
Miami ranks third in the league in sacks per play this season as they've got 23 on the season.
Happy returnsTed Ginn has always been considered a dangerous kick returner, but now he has the statistics to back it up. Ginn is leading the league in kick return average with a 30.4 average. He's one of only two kick returners in the league to have two returns for touchdowns this season, including one for 101 yards.
Ginn did not have a return for a touchdown last week against Carolina, but did have a 48-yard long. Miami ranks 5th in the league in kick return average.
Quote of the Week"That's kind of embarrassing to have anybody rush for 250 on you. We kind of look at this game as a rivalry game and I think just coming out we've got to have that mindset where we can't let that happen again and shore up the running game and do the little things to get it corrected. I think we've been doing a good job of that and we're definitely not going to let 250 get put up on us again."
--DT Spencer Johnson – On Miami's rushing total in first meeting
Stat of the WeekThe Bills have won four of their last five games at home against the Dolphins in the month of November.
Milestones in reachLee Evans needs 155 receiving yards to move into sole possession of third place on the Bills' all-time receiving yardage list.
Terrell Owens needs two touchdowns to pass Marcus Allen and move into fourth place on the NFL all-time touchdowns list (146).
Fred Jackson needs 44 rushing yards to set a new single season high (571, 2008).
Rian Lindell needs eight points for 700 in his Bills career.
Final noteFred Jackson has averaged 5.8 yards per carry against the Miami Dolphins in his career (34-198 yards).