Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills Preview and Prediction

Struggling divisional foes will clash in Buffalo tonight.

<p> Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills Preview and Prediction</p>

Two AFC East teams in need of a win will meet on Thursday Night Football, when the Buffalo Bills host the Miami Dolphins tonight at 8:20 pm EST on the NFL Network. The Bills have lost three in a row and five of their last six games to fall to 3-6 on the season. Two weeks ago the Dolphins had won three in a row to get to 4-3 on the year, but losses to the Colts and Titans have Miami back under the .500 mark.

When the Buffalo Bills have the ball:
Buffalo has been fairly solid on offense this season, ranking sixth in the league with 143.1 rushing yards per game. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller have been productive backs, although Jackson has missed time with a knee injury and will be out for this game with a concussion suffered in last week’s loss at New England. Spiller has been excellent with 632 rushing yards and an NFL-best 7.3 yards per carry. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has 17 touchdown passes against 10 interceptions this season, but seven of those picks have come in two games.

The Miami defense has played decent football overall, but this unit has struggled in recent weeks. The Dolphins gave up a rookie-record 433 passing yards to Andrew Luck of the Colts two weeks ago and an easy 126 rushing yards to Tennessee’s Chris Johnson in last Sunday’s blowout loss. Even with that subpar performance, Miami still ranks fifth in the NFL against the run. The Dolphins will key on Spiller tonight, while also trying to improve on their paltry total of 11 takeaways in nine games.

When the Miami Dolphins have the ball:
The Miami offense ranks 26th in the league in yardage (323.9 per contest), but there were bound to be some issues with a new system and a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins ran the ball well early but have not produced on the ground lately. Reggie Bush was benched after a first-quarter fumble last week, and Miami must find a way to get him going again. This would be the game for Bush to up his production, and a solid rushing performance would greatly help Tannehill. The rookie threw three interceptions versus Tennessee last Sunday, and he has only one touchdown pass over the last three games.

The Buffalo defense has simply been terrible this season, ranking 31st in the league with 410 yards allowed per contest and dead-last in scoring at 31.7 points per game. Dave Wannstedt’s crew is also the worst run unit in the NFL, giving up a staggering 163.7 yards per game on the ground. That obviously must stop if the Bills are going to get back near .500, and limiting Bush will be the focus tonight. Much like Miami, the Bills have struggled to cause turnovers with only 11 on the season.

Key Factor:
Both teams should play desperate football in the one, and the quarterback that is most effective should lead his team to victory. Fitzpatrick can be really bad at times, but he gives Buffalo a chance to win in most weeks. Tannehill must avoid interceptions against the Bills and let the running game be effective. The Dolphins have won six of the last eight in this series, but we’ll take the Bills with the home crowd to win a close ball game tonight.

Bills 23 Dolphins 20

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