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Scouting Report: Week 17 - Bills vs. Dolphins


Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Josh Allen vs. Kiko Alonso
Buffalo's rookie QB made Alonso look silly in space. Will the Dolphins choose to deploy a different player as a spy on the scrambling Allen after he rumbled for 135 yards on the ground?

2 - Rafael Bush vs. Danny Amendola The Bills may need to bracket Amendola to put Bush, a safety by trade, in position to succeed with this coverage assignment. Amendola did not play in the first matchup with the Bills.

3 – Tre'Davious White vs. Kenny Stills This matchup did not take place in the first meeting because Stills was moved into the slot in the absence of Amendola. Stills had four receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown in the Week 13 matchup.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Pass rush

Buffalo's pass rush hasn't been able to log many sacks of late, but Miami has surrendered 48 sacks on the season and Ryan Tannehill isn't as mobile as he once was.

Best advantage – Pass defense
Going hand-in-hand with Buffalo's pass rush on the front end, the Bills have the top-ranked pass defense in football. Only one quarterback has thrown for 300 yards against Buffalo this season and that was Tom Brady, whom the Bills held to just 126 yards passing in the rematch last Sunday.

Bills Number 1 Must

Buffalo is 3-2 this season in games decided by four points or less, but one of those losses came at the hands of the Dolphins in Week 13. In what figures to be another close game, the Bills must finish strong as a stepping stone in winning tight games come 2019.

Scouting Eye
Protection problems

The Dolphins have had problems with protecting their quarterback for most of the season, but it may have hit a new low of late. Since they first played Buffalo, Miami has given up 16 sacks in their last three games. The sack rate of 5.7 per game is a league high over that span. Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that Ryan Tannehill is averaging fewer than 22 pass attempts per game during that stretch.

Taking the close ones
The Dolphins might be under .500 on the season, but do not get caught up in a tight game with Miami. When it comes to games decided by one score or less, the Dolphins are unbeaten this season. Each of their seven wins in 2018 have come by eight points or less, including their four-point win over Buffalo in Week 13. Among the other victims are Tennessee, New England, Oakland, Chicago and the Jets twice.

Big plays for points
Buffalo's pass defense is not one to surrender big plays, but they will be tested by the Dolphins. Despite, ranking 30th in passing this season, Miami has put together enough big passing plays to put points on the board. Through 15 games, the Dolphins have 14 passing touchdowns of 20 yards or more, which is tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in the NFL this season. Though Miami did have two passing touchdowns against the Bills in their first meeting, neither went for 20 yards or more.

Top shelf thievery
Miami's defense has thrived on takeaways this season. They rank third in the league in interceptions with 27. Only Cleveland (30) and Chicago (36) have accumulated more. Pro Bowl CB Xavien Howard leads the Dolphins with seven on the season, and had a pair of interceptions in the first meeting with the Bills. He's been a big reason why Miami is third in the AFC in turnover differential with a plus-8.

Howard a question mark
Miami's top takeaway artist however, is trying to recover from a torn meniscus, suffered in that first Bills game. He hasn't played since Week 13. He is practicing this week, so there's a chance he'll be able to return for the team's final game of the season. Whether he'll be healthy enough to have the same kind of impact on an opponent's passing game, if he plays remains to be seen.

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the week

"One thing that could be said about this football team is that they play hard. That doesn't always happen. You think it should, but it doesn't always happen. These guys know that they're part of something that's being built. They know that they're a part of something that could become something special. I think they feel a part of something bigger than just themselves. I would say the character of the men in that room has been on display through the last month of the season because of how hard they've played."_
--Head coach Sean McDermott*
Stat of the week*
Josh Allen has had a rushing touchdown in each of his last four home games.

Milestones in reach
Josh Allen, with 45 rushing yards, will become the franchise's all-time single-season rushing leader at quarterback, passing Tyrod Taylor (580).

With a 25+ yard reception WR Robert Foster will mark his seventh straight game with a 25+ yard catch, the longest streak in team history since Jerry Butler's seven game streak in 1985-86.

LeSean McCoy needs 13 rushing yards to move into 25th place on the league's all-time rushing list passing Thomas Jones (10,591).

Final note
The Dolphins rank both as the third-worst offense and third-worst defense in the league.

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