Week 11: Miami Dolphins At Buffalo Bills
- QuarterbackIt’s been a very surprising season for the Dolphins and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been one of the biggest reasons they’ve been able to be a competitive team this year when they had the look of a disaster in training camp. Tannehill is decisive and throws an accurate pass, but he is coming off one of his worst games after throwing three interceptions in the one-sided loss to the Titans.There’s little doubt that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a competent signal-caller and an accurate passer. He has a fighter’s attitude and that allowed the Bills to push the Patriots to the limit in Week 10. Fitzpatrick had the Bills on the edge of victory, but his late pass in the endzone was intercepted. Getting close but failing to close the deal has been an issue for Fitzpatrick through his run with the Bills.
- OffenseThe Dolphins appreciate what Tannehill is doing, but they can’t put him out there without having a running game to help him out. The running game disappeared in Week 10 when Reggie Bush fumbled early in the game and found himself on the bench. Look for a renewed effort from Bush against the Bills. Brian Hartline has become a solid wide receiver and Davone Bess is an effective complementary player.The Bills certainly have the firepower with their ground game that give them an edge in most weeks. They can give the ball to fast Fred Jackson or faster C.J. Spiller. However, Jackson’s fumble hurt them against the Patriots. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson is an explosive wide receiver who is Fitzpatrick’s top threat. Donald Jones works well with Fitzpatrick.
- DefenseThe Dolphins’ strength of their team is their defense. They got shredded by the Titans last week, but that was somewhat flukish based on the way they played this year. Chris Johnson ran for 126 yards against them, but they had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their previous 22 games. Linebackers Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby are likely to be quite angry over that development and should respond with their best effort.The Bills have been one of the most generous teams in the league this year. They rarely come up with a decent effort against the run, but even when Dave Wannstedt’s defense is playing hard, mistakes are made on a regular basis. Defensive end Mario Williams (wrist) has not been effective and is not always in the lineup and Marcel Dareus can’t do it alone in the middle of the line.
- Special TeamsThe Dolphins have gotten ordinary play from their special teams this year and that may not help them if they get involved in a close game on the road. Placekicker Dan Carpenter has made 13-of-17 FG attempts this season. Punter Brandon Fields is averaging just under 44.0 yards per punt going into Week 11.The Bills rarely give placekicker Rian Lindell the opportunity to show off his talents. He made his only field goal attempt against New England, but he has only 10 field goal attempts this season. Punter Shawn Powell has been fairly solid throughout the season and he is coming off his best game of the year – averaging 50.0 yards per punt – against the Pats.
The Bills can put on an explosive offensive show and they are much more likely to do that at home. However, the Dolphins are much better defensively and they appear to be more organized and better able to rebound after a poor game. The Bills seem like they are playing for pride while the Dolphins are trying to get back to .500.