Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 - Charles Clay vs. Isa Abdul-QuddusBuffalo's tight end has become a more consistent component of the pass game of late. He figures to be a primary target again versus a Dolphins secondary that has given up more than its share of big plays.
2 - Nickell Robey-Coleman vs. Jarvis LandryRobey-Coleman is playing some of his best ball right now and he'll need to be on his game against the Dolphins leading receiver, who currently stands second in the NFL in receptions with 41 this season. He is far and away Ryan Tannehill's favorite target.
3 - Jordan Mills vs. Cameron WakeBuffalo's right tackle will have to deal with Cameron Wake on passing downs. He replaced Mario Williams in the lineup last week because they were facing a heavy pass team in the Steelers. With the Bills proclivity to run the ball Mario Williams figures to see more time. But on third down pass situations Wake can still bend the corner and get to the quarterback.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage - Run gameWith or without LeSean McCoy the Bills run game is a potent one. It starts with the offensive line, which is exactly the same as the one that led the league in rushing last year. Tyrod Taylor is also the hidden 'X' factor as he leads all NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards. Against the NFL's 31st ranked run defense the Bills should be able to carry out their game plan even if McCoy is sidelined.
Best advantage - Pass rushBuffalo has been consistent in applying pressure up front. They rank second in the league in sacks and second in sack percentage. Miami has given up 17 sacks this season on 188 pass plays, the second worst percentage in the NFL.* *
Bills Number 1 Must
Put the game on TannehillBuffalo run defense has to stand tall early and force Miami QB Ryan Tannehill to beat them with his arm. When that happens the Bills usually win the game. Tannehill has shown improvement this season, but has a 75.6 career passer rating against the Bills and a 2-6 record. He's been sacked 27 times in those eight games. If Buffalo can make the Dolphins one dimensional and force Tannehill to make throws, they should be able to post a valuable divisional road win.
Back togetherFor the first time last week Miami had their entire starting offensive line together. Left tackle Branden Albert, left guard Laremy Tunsil and center Mike Pouncey have all missed time so far this season. In their first start as a unit last week the Dolphins front five paved the way for Jay Ajayi's 204-yard rushing performance in an upset win over Pittsburgh and a quick pass game kept Tannehill off his back as they did not give up a sack.
Up tempoMiami went with an up tempo approach on offense last week and it worked well. The quick pass game kept Tannehill out of trouble and eventually wore out the Pittsburgh defense with five drives of nine plays or more. It led to some big plays against a tired Steelers front in the second half including Ajayi's 62-yard touchown run to seal the victory.
Running it upThe Dolphins have found it difficult to stop the run this season. Although they've only surrendered four rushing touchdowns this season they're giving up almost 150 yards rushing per game (147). Forty-six percent of the time they give up a run of four yards or more. Only three NFL clubs have given up more runs of 10 yards or more than Miami.
Pro Bowl safety lost for seasonMiami S Reshad Jones was lost for the year with a torn rotator cuff that required surgery. It will likely require a shift in roles at the safety positions. Isa Abdul-Quddus could spend more time closer to the line of scrimmage as a strong safety with Michael Thomas expecting to spend more time at free safety. Walt Aikens would be a last resort option after his struggles as a starter last season.
Big play potentialThe knock on Ryan Tannehill thus far in his career is being unable to hit the deep ball with consistency, but Miami's big play ability appears improved this season. They are tied for fifth in the league in plays of 20 yards or more with 26 through their first six games. Twenty-three of those plays have come through the air. Kiko back racking up tacklesBills fans are all too familiar with how Kiko Alonso can accumulate tackles after his stellar rookie season in Buffalo. After two injury-filled seasons in 2014 and 2015, Alonso is leading the Dolphins in tackles this season. He currently has 55 on the season good for third in the conference. Alonso is lining up at middle linebacker in Miami's 4-3 front and is tied for the NFL lead with two fumble recoveries.
Stat of the weekThe Bills are averaging 211.8 rushing yards per game in their last four outings.
Quote of the week"I'm anxious. I'm just ready to get out there with those guys. They've been making plays. 'Zo, Jerry and all the backers, Preston, the whole defense is making plays. I'm just ready to go out there and enjoy those guys and be a part of this great defense. Just getting happy with my teammates after big plays and things like we saw against the 49ers. That was great."
OLB Shaq Lawson
Milestones in reachDan Carpenter needs two field goals to reach 100 as a Bill.
LeSean McCoy needs 55 yards from scrimmage to reach 11,000 for his career.
Tyrod Taylor (804) needs 19 rushing yards to pass Ryan Fitzpatrick (822) for fourth in franchise history for rushing yards by a QB.
Final noteTyrod Taylor is 2-0 vs. Miami with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 145.7 passer rating.