Despite a 2-4 record and being dead last in the division, this Bills team has shown tremendous heart and has given fans hope for the future. They play aggressively, making big plays on both sides of the ball despite missing key players. The Marrone era has certainly brought a new sense of competitiveness as five of the six games have been decided by one score or less. They are also the only team aside from Denver to score at least 20 points each game. These moral victories are wonderful for the future, but they do not get teams to the playoffs, only their record does. They will go up against a physical Dolphins team, and must battle to refrain from falling to an 0-3 divisional record.
What It Means
For the Bills, this season has been nothing short of exciting and has been filled with many moral victories and improvements. However, they still stand at 2-4 and 0-2 in the division. Falling to 0-3 would most likely eliminate any chances at making a run at the playoffs. The Bills have been in every game thus far, but have failed to learn how to win. This is another winnable game, and if the Bills want to turn around their season, this is the time to start.
The Dolphins are coming off a bye week after a tough loss against the Ravens. After a hot start, the Dolphins have cooled losing their last two. This will be their first divisional game and it is a must win if they hope to catch the Patriots for first in the division.
Matchups to Watch
Mario Williams vs. Tyson Clabo
Mario Williams has recorded 8.5 sacks on the season and has been disrupting opposing offenses all year long. Clabo has really struggled this season, allowing 5 sacks in 5 games. Tannehill and the Dolphins offense has been prone to turning the ball over, and the Bills defense thrives off of turnovers, so if Williams can get pressure on Tannehill, Thad Lewis and the Bills offense may be able to benefit from good field position.
Erik Pears vs. Cameron Wake
Cameron Wake is coming off a sprained MCL and will not be 100 percent, but his speed will still be difficult to challenge, especially in a hostile road environment. Despite his injury, Wake will still draw extra attention from the Bills offensive line, and thus, he will be able to open up matchups for rookie Dion Jordan.
CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson vs. Paul Soliai
The Bills enter Sunday’s game as the league’s third best rushing attack averaging 148.8 yards per game. Soliai is Miami’s defensive tackle standing at 6’4″ and 340 pounds. He is an absolute behemoth. If he can create penetration on the Bills offensive line, Lewis will be forced to air out the football. Marrone’s offense has always been a run first attack, and especially with Manuel out, the Bills will lean on the run. If the Bills can establish a rushing attack, then that would open up the passing game for Lewis to exploit, as he proved he could do last week against a staunch Bengals defense.
The Bills Will Win If…
They are able to get pressure on Tannehill. The Dolphins offensive line has allowed more sacks than any other team this year, and Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is known for creating various blitz packages. If the Bills can pressure Tannehill, he will surely turn the ball over creating a short field for Lewis. The pressure will also blanket a weak secondary. Secondly, the Bills must be able to rush the football and maintain possession of the football. They cannot afford to expose their pass defense more than necessary, as that cost them the game last week.
The Dolphins Will Win If…
They can stop the Bills rushing attack. The Bills average 148.8 yards per game, and if they get going, it will be tough to stop. Lewis is also know to run, as he rushed for 1 TD last week, so they must contain him as well. The Dolphins must also be able to stop, or at least hold up, a strong Bills front 7. Pettine thrives off various blitz packages and will certainly throw lots of looks at a young quarterback. Finally, they must keep their fans involved by limiting explosive plays. They have given up 7 plays of 40 or more yards, and the Bills certainly have many playmakers capable of producing such plays.
This game will prove to be a physical, competitive, and heated rivalry game in a hostile Miami environment that screams “Fins Up!” Lewis will start his second game, but this one will be a road game so it will be interesting to see how he responds to the crowd noise. Although the Dolphins are coming off a bye week, and may have more raw talent, I believe the Bills have more heart and a more competitive nature under Marrone, and I see a Bills victory. It will be a close and exciting game coming down to the wire, but the Bills will win.
Bills Win 27-24.