After suffering a shocking defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, the Miami Dolphins will return home to play in their first regular season home game of 2015 against their archrivals, the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins hold a 58-43-1 (including postseason) advantage in their divisional rivalry against the Bills. The last time these two times played, Miami defeated Buffalo, 22-9, last November on "Thursday Night Football."
Buffalo is also coming off a loss as they were defeated 40-32 at the hands of the New England Patriots. In Week 1, the Bills manhandled the Indianapolis Colts 27-14 behind three Colts turnovers.
Buffalo at Miami
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET (Sunday)
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Miami -2.5
Three Things to Watch For
1. Miami’s offensive line
Despite changes throughout the years, the Dolphins offensive line has remained a problem for them each of the last three seasons. Former Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert was limited to 19 snaps against Jacksonville last week as he is still trying to recover from his knee injury from last season. His replacement, Jason Fox was mediocre at best.
Miami’s guards have also been a problem as Pro Football Focus ranks Jamil Douglas (72nd) and Dallas Thomas (74th) among the worst guards on their list. The poor play on the offensive line has not only affected quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins passing game but also the team’s running game.
This week, Miami’s offensive line will be going up against arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. Last season, Buffalo led the NFL in sacks with 54 and they have three Pro Bowlers (Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus) on their defensive line.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked five times this season against average defensive lines in Washington and Jacksonville. Just imagine what the Bills defensive line could do against a subpar Dolphins offensive line.
2. Tyrod Taylor
Against the Colts in Week 1, Taylor played a very efficient game as he finished 14-of-19 for 195 yards with a touchdown pass and a total quarterback rating of 88.2. While he threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns last week against New England, Taylor also threw three interceptions and finished with an overall total quarterback rating of 32.6.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick made Taylor a pure pocket passer last week and that was the primary reason for the turnovers and the eight sacks on the quarterback. If Taylor can roll out of the pocket like he did in Week 1, this will give the Bills receiver a better chance to extend plays down the field.
“He’s (Taylor) a very talented young man,” said Bills coach Rex Ryan on a conference call on Wednesday. He’s got some poise, he can all the throws and he can run.”
While Taylor rallied the Bills late in the fourth quarter, his mistakes were too much to overcome. Miami’s defense only has one sack on the season, so they will have to use the Belichick blueprint in order to slow down the mobile Taylor.
3. Dolphins' defense
For all the talk from the Dolphins players about how they could have the best defense in the NFL during the preseason, the unit has been anything but during the first two weeks of the season. Miami currently ranks 23rd overall in total defense, which includes having the 27th-best rushing defense in the NFL.
“Obviously we have high expectations about not just the pass rush but just the overall play of our group,” said Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle after Sunday’s loss. “I think we would have certainly expected more through two games, but yet, I think we are seeing things that we anticipated from our opponents."
This week, Miami will have to contain one of the best running backs in the league in Bills' LeSean McCoy. While he has only rushed for 130 yards this season, McCoy is capable of having a big game against the Dolphins defense. Last season while playing for the Eagles, McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards and five touchdowns.
Miami has given up an average of 142 rushing yards per game in their first two games. If McCoy can run against the Dolphins defense, that will take pressure off of the Bills inexperienced quarterback, Taylor.
Miami’s biggest problem the first two weeks of the season is their lack of in-game adjustments. They have failed to make the necessary changes to what teams are doing to them defensively and that’s why they struggled against Washington and lost to Jacksonville last week.
Buffalo is far more talented than the Redskins and Jaguars and they should be able to exploit a lot of the Dolphins weaknesses. Expect the Bills to run the football early and often on Sunday, which should set up opportunities for play action passes from Taylor and the Bills offense.
The Dolphins will have an uphill day trying to contain the Bills defensive line. Ryan is one of the best defensive coaches in the NFL and he will scheme a way to have constant pressure on Tannehill.
Miami has to be able to run the football against Buffalo in order to win this game. The Dolphins ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing after the first two weeks. If Tannehill has to throw the ball 30 times or more to defeat the Bills, that will play right into Buffalo’s strengths.
Prediction: Buffalo 24, Miami 21
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.