Week 15: Bills vs. Dolphins
This week is a battle between the two teams in last place in the AFC East. They are also two of the hottest teams in the league as the Dolphins have been on fire lately coming off a 21-0 whitewash of the Patriots and have won five of their last six after a 1-6 start. The Bills have one three of four and are 4-2 since the bye week. They are coming off a division victory of their own at the Meadowlands against the Jets. It should be a good battle to gauge where the two teams are at this point of the season with winner possibly holding on to faint playoff hopes for another week.
FACTS AND FIGURES
||Buffalo (6-7) vs. Miami (6-7)
||Ralph Wilson Stadium
||Don Criqui and Steve Beuerlein
||Buffalo by 1
||Dolphins lead 50-34-1 (Bills 3-1 in playoffs)
||Buffalo Won 1
||Bills 16-6 in Miami (2006)
||Rush (26th); Pass (11th); overall (18th)
||Rush (9th); Pass (4th); overall (2nd)
||Rush (23rd); Pass (30th); overall (30th)
||Rush (27th); Pass (9th); overall (19th)
The Bills have three injuries of note. Terrence McGee, Donte Whitner and John DiGiorgio all missed the Jets game with injuries. McGee and DiGiorgio have ankle injuries while Whitner has a hamstring injury. McGee and Whitner feel they will return this week against the Dolphins.
The Dolphins are without their star RB Ronnie Brown who remains out with a broken hand. QB Daunte Culpepper has been placed on injured reserve with his knee problem. QB Joey Harrington is a bit banged up with an ankle injury but he should be ok for the game. C Rex Hadnot banged up a shoulder against New England but he did return to that game. G Jeno James has been out for a while with a knee injury and there is an outside chance he can return this week. CB Eddie Jackson should return from a hamstring injury against the Bills.
Bills Daily Injury Page
LT Jason Peters vs. RDE Jason Taylor:
This will be the most important battle of the day. Peters has done a solid job since moving over to protect J.P. Losman's blind side. Taylor is the key cog to a very good to great Miami defense. He has played very well coming off a dominating performance against the Patriots. He has 11½ sacks on the year and if he can hit Losman from behind a few times the Bills could give the ball away and that would spell trouble.
CB Nate Clements vs. WR Chris Chambers:
Clements and Chambers resume their twice a year rivalry. Chambers has had the upper hand for most of their battles but Clements is playing perhaps the best football of his career right now.
LDE Aaron Schobel vs. RT Vernon Carey:
Speaking of perhaps playing the best football of his career, Schobel is a man on fire as well as on a mission to get to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl for the first time. He is tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 12½. Carey took over at tackle in a shuffle of an offensive line that is even worse then the Bills. If Schobel can cause some havoc in the backfield, he can force Joey Harrington into a few turnovers to help the Bills pull out the win.
WR Lee Evans vs. CB Andre Goodman:
For the Bills to be successful against this tough defense they need to hit some deep patterns to Evans. He has done a fine job of getting open deep this year and if he has some early success against Goodman look for Miami to slide their best corner Will Allen to his side of the field.
RB Willis McGahee vs. MLB Zach Thomas:
McGahee is getting healthier and is coming off another solid effort against the Jets. Unfortunately the Dolphins are not the Jets and running room will be tough to find especially with Thomas manning the middle of the defense. He leads the team with a whopping 123 tackles.
DTs Larry Tripplett and Kyle Williams vs. RB Sammy Morris:
The Bills get a break that Brown won't play but the former Bill Morris will be highly motivated to come back to Buffalo as a starter. He has played very well in place of Brown including a 100 yard game last week against the Patriots. If he can run successfully that will keep the pass rushers from pinning their ears back and going after Harrington aggressively.
When The Bills Have The Ball: The Bills will look to use the vertical passing game to stretch the Miami defense. That could open up things underneath for the slant patterns and draw plays to get yardage on the ground.
When The Dolphins Have The Ball: They should run the ball with the hot former Bill Morris, especially since the Bills run defense is very poor. Of course with Mike Mularkey as offensive coordinator expect them to do what isn't obvious and come out throwing. Expect a few trick plays to show how "smart" Mularkey is.
BILLS DAILY PREDICTION
This is a real tough one to call, both teams are red hot and confident. The talent level is probably fairly even with a slight edge going to the Dolphins. Either team (or both) could come out flat after big wins last week. I'll give a very slight advantage to the Bills since they are at home against Miami in December even though the weather won't be a factor:
Bills 16, Dolphins 14
Season Prediction Record: (8-5)
Season Record Against The Spread: (6-7)
Complete Gameday Review - Coming Sunday Night Dec. 17th!
Gameday Grades - Coming Sunday Night Dec. 17th!