This past Monday night, the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins battled it out in Miami with the end result as the Dolphins coming out on top victorious. The Buffalo Bills face the Dolphins twice in the next three weeks and the Patriots one more time before the end of the regular season.
The Bills have already fallen to the Patriots this season once in Buffalo, but this last game between the Dolphins and the Patriots can teach the Bills about their upcoming opponents.
Focusing on the Dolphins:
1.) Kenyan Drake Is No Joke
Drake has been almost unstoppable the past two weeks. In the last two weeks, he has put up 234 rushing yards and a touchdown. He likes the contact and isn’t afraid to hit defenders. The Bills defense has tendencies to arm tackle which isn’t going to help them against Drake.
The Bills run defense will need to contain Drake and force Jay Cutler to throw the ball. If the defense can win in the trenches and stop Drake, the Dolphins will almost no choice but to throw the ball.
2.) Dolphins Defensive Line Applies Pressure
The defensive line for the Dolphins can apply pressure and cause quarterbacks to make mistakes. There were passes that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can usually complete that he didn’t. The defensive line didn’t have an all-star game but they cause pressure that made Brady mess up. Also, let’s not forget that the Patriots offense did not convert on third down once in the game.
Whether it’s Tyrod Taylor or Nathan Peterman taking the snaps on Sunday, neither one of them can make mental mistakes, especially in this point of the season and where the Bills stand in the playoff race.
3.) Jay Cutler Outperformed Tom Brady
Yes, Cutler outperformed Brady in their game. Cutler went 25-for-38 for 263 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. On the other hand, Brady went 24-for-43 for 233 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Cutler did surprisingly well against what seems to be a rising Patriots defense as compared to the beginning of the season. Cutler only has 2,100 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season.
Those are not great stats but with his performance against the Patriots, it should concern Bills fans. Just last weekend, the Bills played the Patriots and the offense could not get anything going on almost every drive against the Pats. There were only two true drives in which the Bills drove down the field and that was the first drive and the drive that ended with a field goal, their only points of the day.
With Cutler doing the damage he did to the Patriots defense, the Bills will need to add to their game plan for Cutler. Before these last couple of weeks, the Dolphins were not a serious threat but the switch has flipped and all of a sudden, we are going to have two AFC East rivals battle it out in what should be a great game.
4.) The Dolphins Are Knocking At The Door
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The Bills are already facing pressure in making the playoffs with teams like the Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, and Kansas City Chiefs. Now the Dolphins are added into the mixture. The Dolphins are knocking on the door for a playoff spot and the Bills are just in front of them.
The Bills will need to win in their next two meetings against the Dolphins to keep them from making the playoffs.
Overall…the Bills are going to face a tough Dolphins team. A team that went from being a joke to a team that can be considered to be back in the playoff race. The Bills and the Dolphins will square off this Sunday and in two weeks in Week 17.
Focusing on the Patriots:
1.) Brady Is Not Invincible
When it comes to Brady, the Bills have always had trouble when facing the Patriots when Brady is under center. In his career, Brady has only lost to the Bills twice. Two times in his career against the Bills. Unbelievable. This past game that Brady was in should give Bills fans relief. Yes, Brady was in Miami in which he is now 7-9 in his career there, but the Dolphins defense showed what can happen if you pressure Brady.
It seems like the Dolphins always give Brady and the Patriots, but why can’t the Bills be the same way? A major key to beating the Patriots is pressuring the pocket and causing Brady to make bad throws. If Kyle Williams, Jerry Hughes, Adolphus Washington and company can collapse the pocket, it should make life for the Bills defense a little easier.
2.) The Running Game Can Be Stopped
The Pats running game of Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead and James White absolutely destroyed the Bills defense in Week 13. Just between Lewis and Burkhead, the combo ran for 170 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Bills gave up 191 rushing yards against the Pats.
Fast forward to the Dolphins/Patriots game and the Pats only ran the ball ten times for 25 yards. There was a huge difference in carries between the two games but it doesn’t ignore the fact that if the running game is contained, the Pats will have to rely on Brady to throw the ball all game long. It’s harder said than done, but it is possible to stop the run so that the Patriots have no choice but to throw the ball.
3.) The Patriots Defense Did Not Pressure Cutler
It seemed like that when Cutler was under pressure, he still managed to find a way out of it and complete a pass. Giving up almost three hundred yards and three touchdowns, the Pats defense were exposed in different areas.
In the Bills first game against the Pats, Taylor was under pressure and made mistakes that cost the Bills potential scoring drives. It was hard to watch the Bills offense because they crumbled under pressure.
With the Dolphins exposing the Pats defense, the Bills need to focus on the Pats weaknesses and utilize them.
The Bills will face the Patriots in Week 16 in New England in a definitely must-win game for the Bills.