1. The advantage of playing a divisional opponent in Week 2
In a year of no preseason games, it's nice to have two divisional opponents to start the season. With just a game worth of NFL film on rookies, the Bills have the advantage of familiarity in scheme and players who they face multiple times a year. Even though Miami has a new offensive coordinator, the Dolphins return several players on offense from last season. Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said knowing the returning personnel in Miami will help with prep.
"The difference here with Miami, they have a new offensive coordinator now," Frazier said. "Personnel is similar so that helps us from a game plan standpoint. Trying to figure out what their new offensive coordinator might or might not do probably will be the curve ball, but the familiarity with their personnel helps us a lot."
2. Josh Allen's numbers vs. Miami
Bills quarterback Josh Allen is known to have solid performances against the Miami Dolphins. Allen has faced the Dolphins four times as a starter and has a 3-1 record against the divisional opponent. In the current three-game winning streak, Allen has completed 54 of 85 passes for 682 passing yards with a completion percentage of 63.5 percent. Allen has totaled 11 touchdowns in those games - including three rushing touchdowns. In those three wins, the QB has averaged 61 rushing yards a game.
After his career day against the Jets where he totaled 33 completions and racked up 312 passing yards, Bills head coach Sean McDermott was proud to see his quarterback's growth.
"Overall I thought Josh did a really good job of giving the receivers a chance," McDermott explained. "They made plays, our receivers, tight ends and running backs made plays when the ball was in the air. I thought our line did a great job of giving Josh time to work back there, and the receivers to work their routes."
3. First road game in midst of COVID-19 pandemic
Week 2 marks the first away game of the 2020 season for the Buffalo Bills. It will also be the first game the Bills will play in front of a crowd this year. Bills staff members have done a tremendous job of following all COVID-19 protocols in place since returning to the complex. Head coach Sean McDermott is confident in his staff's ability to create a safe road environment.
"It'll be different," McDermott said. "Not many guys travel overall so to your point, our first road trip. I know our staff, our operations staff, led by Brendan Rowe and Kevin Meganck and Matt Worswick along with many others are way out in front of this thing, making sure that we are in the best position possible as we travel this weekend. So, I'm confident that we'll be prepared when that time comes."
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll noted their first game without fans felt weird. As they travel down to Miami, Daboll explained they're ready for any level of noise with fans.
"Obviously, during the game I know they were sorely missed," Daboll shared. "We'll find out as we go down there how loud it'll be and how loud it'll get. We do our fair share of practicing with some loud noise around here so we'll have to be ready if it gets loud."
4. Familiar face at OC
The Dolphins had a familiar face on offense last year with the addition of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who played for the Bills from 2009 to 2012. This season, the Dolphins welcome another former Buffalo Bill in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Gailey was the Bills head coach from 2010 to 2012. Fitzpatrick and Gailey overlapped for three seasons in Buffalo.
In their first game back together, Fitzpatrick threw for three interceptions and completed 20 of 30 passes for 191 yards. The Dolphins combined for 269 total yards of offense, which ranks 28th in the NFL. Their 87 rushing yards ranked 24th in the league. Gailey is putting a priority on their run game before they face a defense that allowed just 52 rushing yards against the Jets.
"We didn't handle movement very well and we're going to get that too in the run game," Gailey said. "We've got to improve that facet of what we're trying to get done. We just didn't get our base package run game running like I want to."
5. Miami's new defensive look
Miami had the league's worst scoring defense in 2019 by allowing 30.9 points per game. Their overall defense ranked 30th allowing an average of 397.8 yards a game. These league lows forced Miami to find new defensive playmakers in the offseason.
The Dolphins added players like cornerback Byron Jones, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, former Buffalo Bill Shaq Lawson, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and linebacker Elandon Roberts this offseason. Miami drafted cornerback Noah Igbinohene in the first round and safety Brandon Jones in the second round.
The reshuffling on defense has yet to pay off because Miami lost to New England in Week 1 and allowed a league high 217 rushing yards, 75 of which came from Cam Newton. The revamped defense knows they will have to tighten up their run defense before they face another quarterback who likes to use his legs in Josh Allen.
"Obviously Josh Allen is big, strong, fast," Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said. "He had something like 60 yards rushing yesterday. Some similarities to what we saw yesterday. Obviously we're trying to get a lot of that fixed now – from an edge-setting standpoint, from a tackling standpoint – schematically. We'll work on that over the course of the week, just from a technique, fundamentals and practice standpoint. Hopefully it helps us on Sunday next week."
6. The Ferguson brothers face off
Something you don't see often — two brothers who are NFL long snappers. Bills long snapper Reid Ferguson and Dolphins long snapper Blake will play each other on Sunday. The two both played at LSU, but this will be their first time playing on opposite ends of the field.
Reid said he checked in with Blake to see how his first NFL game went and gauged his excitement level of facing his older brother on Sunday.
"We're both super excited because it's once in a lifetime," Ferguson said. "We're obviously playing each other twice a year, but one in a million chances that something like this would ever happen."
Reid said his parents will be in the stands on Sunday, and he wouldn't be surprised if he saw them wearing a split Bills, Dolphins jersey.