Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills: Prediction, preview, pick to win
Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins take on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI | License Photo




KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, New Era Field. TV: CBS, Beth Mowins, Jay Feely.

SERIES HISTORY: 103rd regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead series, 59-42-1. Last season, the Dolphins swept the Bills, including a December game in the penultimate week of the season, a 34-31 overtime decision that eliminated the Bills from the playoff hunt and helped solidify Miami's spot in the postseason.

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KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bills have run the ball with renewed vigor the last two weeks, totaling 183 yards in a loss to New England and 227 against the Colts last week. This will have to continue against Miami because controlling the ball on the ground has been Buffalo's key to offensive success all season.

When the Bills rush for at least 100 yards, they are 6-2. When they don't, they are 1-4. LeSean McCoy has jumped into the top five with 1,007 yards, and he will be the key player for the Bills. Miami must limit McCoy and use a strong pass rush to apply pressure on the quarterback, whoever that is, and force mistakes. The Dolphins have five takeaways in the last two games, both victories.


Miami knew what it was doing when it dealt Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia because Kenyan Drake has stepped in and carried the offense recently. He had his second straight 100-yard game in the victory over New England, and he also has been a weapon in the passing game. The Bills have to do a better job in run defense; if they do, they should be able to limit Jay Cutler's effectiveness, especially in the wintry conditions that are expected.

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Miami's game plan offensively will be to stay diverse, involving everyone in the passing game and using Drake as the starting point. Look for the downfield passing game to continue to evolve and look for a couple of formations Miami hasn't showed to this point of the season.


--Bills LG Richie Incognito vs. Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh. Incognito is coming off an excellent game as he helped pave the way for 227 rushing yards against the Colts. Suh was equally as impressive in Miami's victory over the Patriots on Monday. The Bills' rushing attack has to be productive, given all the struggles in the passing game, and the Dolphins, led by Suh, are strong in the middle of the field against the run.

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--Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry vs. Bills secondary. Landry can create matchup problems because he lines up in a variety of spots, so the Bills will have different defensive backs guarding him. Ideally, the Bills would love to put CB Tre'Davious White on him full-time, but the Bills prefer to keep White on the outside. Landry leads the Dolphins with 88 catches, so Buffalo has to find a way to contain him, and getting pressure on Cutler would help in that endeavor because Landry often wins his routes quickly.



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--Out: G Jermon Bushrod (foot)

--Doubtful: QB Matt Moore (foot), CB Cordrea Tankersley (ankle, shoulder), S Michael Thomas (knee), RB Damien Williams (shoulder, illness)

--Questionable: DE Andre Branch (knee), CB Xavien Howard (illness), DT Jordan Phillips (ankle)


--Out: T Cordy Glenn (foot, ankle/injured reserve), G John Miller (ankle), QB Nathan Peterman (concussion)

--Questionable: WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Dolphins DE Andre Branch. He will be a key in both the running and the passing games. Branch will be responsible for setting the edge in the running game, something that has been spotty since the loss of run-stopping DE William Hayes (season-ending back injury) three weeks ago. In the running game, figure DE Cam Wake and Suh will get lots of attention, as usual, so Branch must take advantage, which he hasn't done as well as he did a year ago.


FAST FACTS: Dolphins QB Jay Cutler passed for 263 yards and three TDs in Week 14. In four career games vs. Buffalo, he has 1,200 passing yards and five TDs. ... Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake had a career-high 193 scrimmage yards (114 rushing) last week. ... Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry is tied for second in the NFL with 88 catches. He has at least five catches in all 13 games in 2017. ... Dolphins DE Cameron Wake has 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception in his past nine games vs. the division. He has 2.5 sacks in his past two games vs. Buffalo. ... Dolphins S Reshad Jones had a sack in his last game vs. Buffalo (2015). He has at least 10 tackles in two of the past three meetings at Buffalo. ... Bills QB Tyrod Taylor passed for 329 yards and three TDs, with no interceptions, and rushed for 60 yards in the last meeting with Miami. In four career games vs. Miami, he has eight TDs and no INTs. ... Bills RB LeSean McCoy has 463 scrimmage yards (115.8 per game) and three TDs in the past four games. In five career meetings with Miami, he has five TDs (four rushing). ... Bills LB Preston Brown had 13 tackles in the last meeting. He has 10 tackles in two of past three games at home vs. Miami. ... Bills S Micah Hyde is tied for third in the NFL with five interceptions.


PREDICTION: The Dolphins came up big in their upset win over the Patriots, but they won't have enough left in the tank to defeat the Bills in Buffalo.

OUR PICK: Bills, 20-17.

--Ellen Port

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