TOP 3 INDIVIDUAL MATCHUPS
1. Joey Porter vs. Jason Peters – Since he's been put back on the open side Porter looks more like the impact linebacker he was in Pittsburgh with 8.5 sacks in six games so far this season. Peters faces arguably the most athletic pass rushing threat he's seen this season.
- Andre Goodman vs. Lee Evans – With Evans averaging a touchdown per game in his career against the Dolphins you can bet that Goodman will have plenty of safety help over the top for this matchup, and he'll need it.
- Samson Satele vs. Marcus Stroud – Satele is an up and coming center, but will need some assistance handling Stroud in the middle. Ikechuku Ndukwe must provide some help or Chad Pennington could be in for a long day.
TOP 2 BILLS ADVANTAGESGood advantage: Passing offense – Trent Edwards has been deadly accurate thus far this season and his receivers have been getting consistent separation, which is why Buffalo has averaged a very respectable 222 yards through the air per game. Meanwhile Miami's pass defense (27th) has left a lot to be desired. Surrendering 13 plays of 25 yards or more in six games the Dolphins have had trouble keeping things in front of them.
Best advantage: Return game – The Dolphins have been downright awful on coverage teams ranking 30th in punt coverage and dead last (32nd) in kickoff coverage. Roscoe Parrish has helped the Bills rank third in punt return with Leodis McKelvin now the primary threat on kickoffs for Buffalo, which ranks 13th. With the Dolphins giving up an average drive start of the 31-yard line the Bills should have a big edge in field position, and perhaps put points on the board in their return game.
BILLS NUMBER ONE MUST
Shut down Brown/Williams combo – As much as Chad Pennington has made the Dolphins offense a competent unit in terms of execution, Ronnie Brown is the engine that runs the Miami offense. Neutralizing him and change of pace back Ricky Williams will put extra pressure on Pennington to make plays, against whom Buffalo has been very successful over the years.
Wildcat formation – It's only used about 8-10 plays a game by the Dolphins and usually employs two tight ends on the left side of the formation, left tackle Jake Long lined up next to right tackle Vernon Carey, Chad Pennington wide right and Ricky Williams wide left. Ronnie Brown operates as the quarterback in the shotgun. The Dolphins implement this look a lot in the red zone and it has been productive in getting touchdowns on the board. Last week against Baltimore was the first week it did not produce a TD since it was first used in Week 3.
Injury issue - Every team has injury concerns at this point in the season, but Miami could be without their most important run defender Sunday. Nose tackle Jason Ferguson strained an oblique muscle in last week's game and did not practice until Friday and is listed as questionable. If he can't go it looks as if DE Randy Starks would step in at the nose with rotational help expected to come from Paul Soliai and rookie Lionel Dotson. Starks has been an under tackle in a 4-3 front, but is not considered true nose tackle material.
In Thursday's practice nickel corner Michael Lehan strained a hamstring, and the Dolphins didn't waste any time. One day later Lehan is on injured reserve and Miami signed free agent cornerback Joey Thomas. Thomas was with the Dolphins in training camp and was one of the team's final cuts. In two preseason games he had five tackles and an interception.
Pennington coming in hot - Chad Pennington has always been known as a high-percentage passer. It's why he has the highest pass completion percentage in NFL history (65.9%). But Pennington has been particularly hot the past four games and in more than just the completion percentage category.
In his last four outings the former Jets signal caller has completed better than 75 percent of his passes with four touchdowns against two interceptions and a combined passer rating over that stretch of 108.8. Perhaps the most startling statistic is his yards per attempt in the four game stretch is 9.48.
High TD percentage - Pennington is also known as a quarterback that rarely makes mistakes in the red zone and it has helped Miami's red zone touchdown percentage. The Wildcat formation has also been of assistance. The Dolphins rank a surprising fifth in the league in red zone touchdown percentage with 12 TDs on 18 possessions (66.7%). The only NFL offenses faring better are Tennessee, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Ball security - Helping the Dolphins with some of their early success under first-year coach Tony Sparano has been their ability to protect the football. Miami is tied for the league lead with the fewest giveaways. Through six games the Dolphins have coughed the ball up just four times. Sparano's squad has eight fumbles thus far this year, but they've lost just one of them.
Bringing pressure - Jason Taylor might be gone, but Miami has still been pretty effective putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Joey Porter and Matt Roth are the Dolphins' two outside linebackers that bring most of the heat. The pair have combined for 11 of the team's 16 sacks with Miami ranking seventh in the league in sacks per play. The Dolphins employ a heavy rotation on their defensive line much like the Bills with Phillip Merling and Randy Starks the prime rotational players.
Quote of the week
"If they want to pressure your quarterback, then some way, some how, there's a void. I think that's what we have to be able to find. When they try to put pressure on us, as a team, hold them off of the quarterback and let Trent (Edwards) find the open guy. There are opportunities there if we can execute well."
--WR Lee Evans on Miami's tendency to give up big plays
Stat of the week
The Bills have won the initial meeting in their season series with the Dolphins each of the last four years and five of the last six.
Milestones in reach
Lee Evans needs one touchdown to tie his career best four-game touchdown streak.
Rian Lindell (167) needs six extra points to surpass the longest PATs made streak in team history.
The Bills are the last team in the NFL that has yet to play a division game.