Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Charles Clay vs. Reshad JonesClay is coming off a five-catch, 82-yard performance that included a touchdown in the first meeting with Miami. Jones, his fellow safeties will have to try and contain Clay as the Dolphins linebackers are not reliable in coverage.
2 – Cordy Glenn vs. Olivier VernonThe pass rushing burden for the Dolphins falls to their right defensive end with Cameron Wake out. He's got three sacks, seven QB hits and six tackles for loss in seven career games against Miami.
3 – Mario Williams vs. Jason FoxIn the first matchup Fox was filling in for LT Branden Albert and had to face Jerry Hughes. Now he squares off with Williams, who will challenge Fox with his power rather than speed off the edge like Hughes.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Red zone offenseThe Bills only rank in the middle of the pack in red zone touchdown efficiency (15th) at 60 percent. But Buffalo ranks fourth in the NFL in the red zone on third down converting 50 percent of the time. That combined with the league's third-best success percentage in the red zone (53.3%) against Miami's 23rd ranked red zone defense looks favorable.
Best advantage - Run gameThe Bills run game gets a boost from the return of Karlos Williams and a healthy Tyrod Taylor. That combined with a finally healthy LeSean McCoy could spell trouble for Miami's 25th ranked run defense.
Bills Number 1 Must
Success on first downBuffalo's offense has fared well on first down for most of the season. They rank in the top 10 in first down efficiency (9th), percentage of first down carries gaining four-plus yards (5th) and overall percentage of rushes gaining four or more yards (3rd). That success will have to continue against a Miami defense that ranks 31st in the NFL in first down rushes allowed of four yards or more. The Dolphins permit opponents to rush for four yards or more on first almost half the time (49.6%).
Sticking with ground gameNew interim head coach Dan Campbell hasn't changed a whole lot with Miami's offensive and defensive schemes, but he has demanded a more physical style of play. Accompanying that mindset has been a great commitment to the run game. He's called for a greater use of two tight end sets to try to gain an advantage at the line of scrimmage, but the results have been mixed.
While their 80 carries in the three games under Campbell was more than their total over the first four games (65), they only had success in the two games where they grabbed early leads (at Tenn., vs. Hou.). Against New England last week they averaged just 1.2 yards per carry and ran the ball just 13 times for 15 yards.
No WakeThe last three weeks Miami DE Cameron Wake was one of the more productive players in the league logging seven sacks over that span. The Dolphins however, lost Wake for the season when he tore his Achilles against the Patriots in Week 7. Replacing him is no easy task as Miami lacks another true speed rusher off the edge. Derrick Shelby (6-2, 280) is slated to be Wake's primary replacement with second-year man Terence Fede also expected to rotate in for snaps.
Line shufflesThe last time the Bills played the Dolphins in Week 3 their offensive line looked a bit different than it does now. Branden Albert was out with a hamstring injury and the starting right guard was rookie Jamil Douglas. Now in Week 9, right tackle Ju'Wuan James is out and Billy Turner mans right guard for the benched Douglas. Jason Fox, who filled in at left tackle for Albert in Week 3 will step in at right tackle for James on Sunday.
Trouble on thirdExecution on third down has been a persistent problem for the Dolphins offense. It's rooted in the fact that 55 percent of Miami's total third down plays have been 3rd-and-8 or more, and in third and long situations their offense is converting just 15 percent of the time. That ranks 31st in the NFL. Not surprisingly, Miami's third down success rate overall ranks 31st as well with a conversion rate of just 27 percent. In their last two games the Dolphins are 3-for-20 on third down (15%).
Giving points earlyMiami's defense has been hovering in the middle of the pack when it comes to surrendering points this season. They rank 18th as they're giving up 24.7 points per game. Their big issue is giving up points early in games, especially on opening drives. The Dolphins rank dead last in the NFL in points allowed on a first possession. Through their first seven games Miami has given up 34 points on opening drives to start the game. Buffalo is part of that statistic having marched 77 yards on just five plays on their first series back in Week 3 for a touchdown.
Turning to ThomasThe Dolphins made a switch at safety when Campbell took over as interim coach. He benched Walt Aikens who was struggling in coverage and replaced him with third-year pro Michael Thomas. Thomas has been a bit more consistent than Aikens, who was susceptible to the big play and ranks fifth on the team in tackles this season.
Quote of the week"The last couple of weeks I was sitting back there and watching, just eager to get back out there and play healthy. I'm excited about going out there."
--QB Tyrod Taylor
Stat of the weekThe Bills have won four of the last five against Miami by a combined score of 121-67.
Milestones in reachMarcell Dareus needs a half sack to total 30 for his career.
Stephon Gilmore needs six pass breakups for 50 in his career.
Karlos Williams is looking to become the fourth players since 1960 to rush for a touchdown in each of his first five games as a rookie.
Final noteThe Bills have won their last three home games against the Dolphins (2012-2014).