The Miami Dolphins (6-7) will be traveling to face the Buffalo Bills (7-6) today. It is currently 21 degrees in Buffalo. This one could turn into another blizzard bowl like the one seen in Week 14 between the Colts and Bills. The Dolphins must overcome the weather and the opposition if they wish to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Dolphins are coming off huge wins against Denver and New England. This team has found its confidence again. They are getting hot at just the right time. However, it is important to note that both of those games were at home. Buffalo is a tough place to play in, especially late in the season.
The Dolphins have seen big performances from running back Kenyan Drake, receiver Jarvis Landry, and quarterback Jay Cutler on offense. On defense it has been all about second-year corner Xavien Howard. Howard has four interceptions (one for a touchdown) over the past two weeks. He was able to lock down receivers over the past two weeks despite fighting the flu.
The Bills have enjoyed a great performance by LeSean McCoy last week as he rushed 32 times for 156 yards in the snow. He was able to propel them to an overtime victory over the Colts. However, over the past few weeks the Bills have suffered from poor quarterback play from Tyrod Taylor, Nathan Peterman and Joe Webb.
Many questions remain at quarterback for the Bills, but Taylor is believed to be the starter this week. The Dolphins will have to have multiple game plans prepared in case of any changes at quarterback midway through the game due to their different styles of play.
Where the teams stand
The Buffalo Bills are currently ranked 23rd and 26th in terms of points per game and yards per game, respectively. On defense the Bills are ranked 16th and 23rd in terms of points allowed and yards allowed, respectively. It will be 27 degrees in Buffalo with 7mph winds at 1pm EST. If the game is not a blizzard bowl then Miami head coach Adam Gase will be able to open up his playbook a bit more. If it is, expect him to use a wide variety of formations and many plays stemming from them in order to keep the defense honest, despite keeping the ball on the ground and out of the air.
The Miami Dolphins are currently ranked 24th and 28th in terms of points per game and yards per game, respectively. On defense the Dolphins are ranked 27th and 16th in terms of points allowed and yards allowed, respectively. Don’t let these rankings fool you though. The Dolphins have been getting hot recently on offense. The Miami Dolphins were dead last in the league in terms of points per game, yards per game and yards per play through Week 8. Ever since then the Dolphins have risen to 12th, 14th and 11th in those measures.
The difference has been the loss of running back Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins have shown to be better off without him. Second-year running back Kenyan Drake is now an emerging star. Look for him to have another great performance today to continue his hot streak. He has found success both on the ground and in the air against top defenses such as Carolina and Denver in recent weeks. He also had success against New England’s defense (albeit a depleted and injury-riddled one).
What this game means for the future
The Buffalo Bills are currently in sixth place when it comes to the AFC playoff standings. Miami is in tenth. The AFC playoff race is anyone’s to take since so many teams have a so-so record but are still in it. If the Dolphins wish to get in, they will need to win out, along with some help from other teams.
It is important to note that winning out would involve beating the Buffalo Bills not once, but twice. The Dolphins would also have to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately for Miami, it seems as though the Chiefs have recently found their confidence again as well.
The Dolphins have gone through a wild ride this season, and it might just get even wilder.
- Isaih Battiste is the Managing Editor of Full Press Coverage Dolphins. He covers the Miami Dolphins 365 days a year. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @FPC_Dolphins and check us out on Facebook!