Miami Dolphins (9-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-7)
SERIES HISTORY: 102nd regular-season meeting. Miami leads, 58-42-1. Miami won the last meeting, 28-25, when running back Jay Ajayi rushed for a career-best 214 yards. This victory was the second of a six-game winning streak for the Dolphins. Miami entered the game 2-6 against the Bills since 2012.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Playoff picture -- Miami clinches a playoff berth with: 1. MIA win plus DEN loss or tie OR 2. MIA tie plus BAL loss plus DEN loss plus HOU loss or tie OR 3. MIA tie plus BAL loss plus DEN loss plus TEN loss or tie.
It likely won't be a white Christmas Eve at New Era Field, but freezing rain is in the forecast. The Dolphins have won eight of their last nine games and control their fate in the AFC wild-card race.
They can clinch their first playoff berth since 2008 with a win at Buffalo and a Denver loss in Kansas City. Miami has not won in Buffalo since 2011. Matt Moore was the Dolphins' quarterback for that game, and he's starting again with Tannehill out indefinitely due to a sprained knee.
The Bills have not been eliminated from playoff contention but need to win their final two games and get a lot of help to pass five teams in the AFC standings and end their 16-year postseason drought, the longest in the NFL.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi vs. Bills linebackers. The Bills should have seen this coming in the first meeting when Ajayi torched them for 214 yards, because he had just done essentially the same thing to the Steelers the week before in what turned out to be his breakout performance. Ajayi killed the Bills with cutback runs, so the linebackers have to be aware of that when he starts outside and looks to break back against the flow.
--Bills C Ryan Groy vs. Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh. As always, the Bills will need to run effectively to have a chance to win. With starting C Eric Wood out, the Dolphins have a clear advantage in the middle of the line with Suh going against Groy. The Bills' guards will need to be sharp so Miami's interior linemen and blitzers don't get too much penetration.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--Out: QB Ryan Tannehill (knee)
--Out: LB Lerentee McCray (concussion)
--Doubtful: T Cordy Glenn (back)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Bills TE Charles Clay. It has been a frustrating season for the Bills' passing game as it ranks ahead of only the 49ers. One of the problems has been the under-utilization of Clay, and it speaks to the dysfunction in the passing game that Clay, even with limited targets, is now leading the Bills with 46 catches. In the last two weeks, Clay has begun to emerge; he has 10 catches for 124 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season. The Bills need to keep looking Clay's way, if for no other reason than to force the Dolphins to pull coverage away from the wide receivers once in a while.
FAST FACTS: Dolphins QB Matt Moore set career-highs with four TDs and a 126.2 rating last week. ... Miami RB Jay Ajayi rushed for 214 yards and TD in last meeting. He is the 10th Dolphins RB with 1,000 yards rushing in a season (1,007). ... Miami WR Jarvis Landry is one of two players in NFL history (Odell Beckham Jr.) with 80 catches in each of first three seasons. ... Bills QB Tyrod Taylor leads NFL QBs with 520 yards rushing. ... Bills RB LeSean McCoy has 55 rushing TDs since 2010, second among active players. ... Bills LB Zach Brown is the only NFL player with 125 tackles (130) and four sacks (4).
PREDICTION: Considering the weather and the respective abilities, this looks like a run-off between RBs LeSean McCoy of Buffalo and Jay Ajayi of Miami. Playoffs are incentive for Dolphins, but the Bills, who have been all over the map this season, may try hard to win one for Rex while he is still the coach.
OUR PICK: Bills, 28-21.