The Bills travel to Miami for their second divisional showdown early in the season. Buffalo is riding high after a mostly dominant performance against the New York Jets and Josh Allen’s career day has the league buzzing. Will he take that big step forward this season and become a top tier quarterback? The Dolphins had the unenviable task of starting the season in Foxboro to face the new look New England Patriots. That contest saw a reemergence of Cam Newton playing as he did in his pre injury plagued years and as a result, a Patriots win. In the loss, Miami’s starting quarterback for now Ryan Fitzpatrick had a poor showing with three interceptions.
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The front and center topic for the Bills heading into this game is injuries. They had four linebackers come out of week one injured. Additionally, during the week’s practice wide receivers John Brown and Isaiah McKenzie as well as defensive end Jerry Hughes showed up on the injury report. All three are cleared to play on Sunday. Defensive tackle Vernon Butler who missed the week one contest because of a hamstring injury will also play. We learned on Friday that Buffalo will be without three linebackers tomorrow. Starters Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano and backup Del’Shawn Phillips. This sets up the linebacking corps as AJ Klein and Tyrell Dodson getting the start with practice squad members Andre Smith and Deon Lacey getting called up to be the substitutes. Look for the savvy veteran Fitzpatrick to exploit the absence of the outstanding drop back coverage ability of both Edmunds and Milano.
After choosing Zack Moss in the third round of the draft this offseason, there was a growing excitement to see what damage a backfield with him and second year man Devin Singletary could do. Singletary, who averaged over five yards per carry last season, would be the primary back, cutting and bouncing off defenders for large chunks of yardage. Moss would be the up the middle thumper, gaining first downs in crucial short yard situations and wearing down the opposing defensive front. Against the Jets they split 18 carries evenly for a miniscule 41 yards between them. Defensive coordinator and former Bills head coach Gregg Williams prides himself on an elite run stuffing D and the Jets looked every bit the part last Sunday. Take notice if Brian Daboll switches it up and gets the ball into the running back’s hands more since they will be going against a Dolphins defense that gave up 4.6 yards per carry to the quadruplet committee of Patriots running backs.
Get the Job Done
With a win tomorrow the Bills can find themselves with a 2-0 start in the division and momentum heading into the non-division games. Much needed because this season they are tied having the NFL’s fifth toughest schedule. On the docket are both contestants from last year’s Super Bowl, the Chiefs and 49ers. They also play the rest of the NFC west which may be the best division in football. There’s not much relief having to meet up with the Steelers and of course the Patriots twice as well. The Bills are favored over Miami by 5 ½ points according to vegasinsider.com. All division games are tough fought due to the familiarity the teams have with each other. If the Bills want to be considered a deep run playoff team this season, they need to take full advantage of games they are favorites to win. Since 1990, when starting out 0-2, the chances of a team making the playoffs is about 12 percent. Look for the Dolphins attempt to jump on the Bills early, desperately trying to avoid that fate.
The Bills play in front of a real, live audience this week as Hard Rock Stadium is allowing 13,000 fans. It will be interesting to see how many are wearing red, white and blue with so many western New York transplants in the area. My prediction is enough that you’ll be able to hear the “Shout Song” through your television.
Spotlight player prediction: Tre’Davious White gets his first interception of the young season, picking one off from the gunslinger Fitzpatrick.
Final score prediction: White’s interception is aided by Miami taking chances playing from behind most of the game. It will be another impressive showing from both sides of the ball by the Bills this week.
Bills – 30 Dolphins – 14