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Keys to the game: Dolphins at Bills

I picked the Dolphins to beat the Bills on Sunday.

I don't believe Thad Lewis, who started at quarterback the first meeting between the teams and helped the Bills to victory, can author another win against Miami.

Here are the matchups: 

When the Dolphins pass the football: The Bills get after the quarterback and it is not just about Mario Williams. Yes, Williams leads the team with 12 sacks – only 2.5 shy of establishing a career best – but Buffalo has four players with at least eight sacks. That’s the reason they lead the NFL with 49. So what’s the answer? Throw quickly. Throw on early downs. Avoid throwing out of necessity. Ryan Tannehill is having a fine month. He’s spreading the ball around to a handful of receiver and the locking down of any one of them does not upend the Miami passing game. So while the Bills have a major advantage at the line of scrimmage, the Dolphins enjoy a major advantage down the field. ADVANTAGE: Even.

When the Dolphins run the football: Daniel Thomas, hobbled for a couple of weeks with an ankle injury, is hobbled again with an ankle injury. He may not play. That definitely signals another week in which Lamar Miller will be allowed to carry most of the load rather than share 20-25 carries with Thomas. The Bills offer fertile ground for running the ball. They’re 26th in the NFL against the run. They’re not much better (23rd) in rushing yards per attempt, which confirms the previous statistic. The questions that matter here are the Dolphins going to stick with the run when it doesn’t work? And will offensive coordinator use the run to play situational football if the opportunity presents? The answer to both questions in the first meeting was no. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

When the Bills run the football: C.J. Spiller was hobbled the last time the teams met and that’s why he rushed only six times for 11 yards. But he’s healthy and playing more like the guy who last season rung up 130 yards from scrimmage against Miami. Spiller is averaging 4.6 yards per carry but the Dolphins can hope poor conditions will slow his wide runs and mitigate his speed. The Dolphins, once a top-10 team against the run, are a shadow of that now. The Dolphins are No. 22 against the run and that’s when run-stuff Paul Soliai is 100 percent healthy. He’s not now, as he’s nursing a tender ankle. Look for the Bills to use the running game as their primary weapon as long as the game is close. ADVANTAGE: Buffalo.

When the Bills pass the football: The biggest surprise of the week came when coach Doug Marrone announced that starting quarterback E.J. Manuel would not start against Miami and would be replaced by Thad Lewis. This suggests a windfall for the Dolphins because Lewis was a practice squad quarterback when the season began and obviously is a backup at best. But the backup helped author Buffalo’s October victory over the Dolphins so overconfidence cannot be a wise thing for Miami. Unlike the end of last week’s game, the Dolphins expect to have all their starting defensive backs available for this game. The Bills will be without receiver Stevie Johnson. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

Special teams: The Dolphins exiled Dan Carpenter before the season began – picking rookie Caleb Sturgis over the veteran. The Bills gladly signed Carpenter. The Dolphins were right to do what they did, based on the salary because they saved money. But Carpenter has been better than Sturgis in 2013. The Bills are 11th in field goal percentage with Carpenter. The Dolphins are 27th in field goal percentage with Sturgis. Leodis McKelvin, who last year had a punt return TD in Buffalo against Miami, hasn’t returned one for a score all this season. If that trend continues, it would mark the first time since 2010 McKelvin is held without a return TD. ADVANTAGE: Buffalo

Coaching: Joe Philbin has his team on a three-game win streak and the playoffs beckon if the team can close out the season with two more wins. That is commendable considering the Dolphins suffered a four-game losing skid, lost to winless Tampa Bay and had an NFL scandal to deal with this season. Doug Marrone was a good-not-great coach at Syracuse. He’s working toward becoming a good coach in the NFL. He’s a work in progress. ADVANTAGE: Miami

Comments

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meant to say Hyde and an improved O-line would help with the short yardage issues.

BOYCOTT THE FINS UNTIL IRELAND IS FIRED! WE'RE SICK AND TIRED OF THE CLASSLESS, INCOMPETENT GM! HELP RESTORE THIS FRANCHISE TO ITS GLORY DAYS! BOYCOTT AND HELP MAKE THE CHANGE!!

McKinnie is retiring after this season. He said so a week ago on the Joe Rose show.

Everybody is acting like tomorrow its going to be sunny and 75!But the forecast calls for rain. So we will not be able to throw the football. If you disagree with this tell me how many NFL QB's have thrown for allot of yards when it rains?

Aprox 20 hours until game time. Then we'll know for sure what the weather is like. Early indications are it won't be bad enough to stop the short passing game.

As far as Mckinnie, even if chooses to resign he's a little old to count on for another full season.

I guess they'll have to weigh their options when the time comes. He could be insurance behind a draft pick.

So reasons the Fins beat up on the Bills tomorrow, its a win and control you playoff destiny game. You have two players that won a Super Bowl last year in McKinnie and Ellerbe. They got hot at the right time and knows what it takes going in. Also Grimes has playoff experience paired with the fact he is the best DB we have. At a minimum those three will have the team focused and pumped tomorrow. Weather could be a slight factor but sitting in around 50 with chances of rain the Fins still come out on top.

We gave the bills. 17 points off turnovers the last game we can not turn the ball over we must protect the ball

Buffalo is always a scary game

I thought McKinney wanted to play two more years

I'm one of those who believe most good linemen are born, not made. First the attitude to want to do damage to the opponent before he does it to you. Then, in the Fins case, MOBILITY, something guys like Dallas Thomas, Claybo, Incognito and Martin lack. For a big guy, McKinnie moves decently, and his position is more a power, protection position for a right handed QB.
I
As much as I hate doing it, if a top quality college RT with the above skill set is available. I'd go for him in the first round.
A shame that ireland does not posses the skills of Shannahan when it comes to finding running backs in the 6 round, or undrafted, as he has done a half dozen times. There are NO Jim Browns out there. I'd rather get a Darren Sproles/Spiller type in the 2nd round, or a cover LB, if they're not gonna give Jordan a chance to play cover LB.

Can't wait for PAYBACK tomorrow. Enjoy the game, everyone, and Merry Christmas.


Everybody is acting like tomorrow its going to be sunny and 75!But the forecast calls for rain. So we will not be able to throw the football. If you disagree with this tell me how many NFL QB's have thrown for allot of yards when it rains?

Posted by: mike gentile | December 21, 2013 at 04:43 PM

Actually it doesn't. 10% chance of rain from 1-2 & 30% chance of showers from 3-4. SHOWERS!!!!!

Stop making it sound like it's going to be played in a hurricane! The heavy rains have been occurring since Thursday into late tomorrow morning. The heaviest rain will be gone by game time.

12 mph winds is not that significant either. Especially not for Buffalo in late December. Also going to be 45 degrees.

Considering where the game is being played & what time of year it is, these are about as good conditions you could ask for.

Or would you rather play with the temps in single digits & multiple inches of snow on the field? Regardless of weather conditions, this is what it will be like in the playoffs. Best get used to it now! December & playoff football is about bad weather, outdoor games in cold weather cities.

The last meeting between these division rivals was lost by the Fins because of turnovers and points off of turnovers.It was 10-0 Buffalo in the points off turnovers stat.BTW they were 3 outta 4 scoring Tds in the Red Zone and won the Red Zone 21-13 but they couldnt overcome the pic 6 touchdown and the sack for a fumble late in the game that led to the 3 points that won it for Buffalo 23-21.
They won the Red Zone 21-13 by 8 and lost the points off of takeaways 10-0 by 10.10-8=2 which was the margin of win for the Bills.
T-Hill must protect the ball and not make mistakes because the Dolphins are clearly the best team this season.
I dont try to make predictions as to when the Bills have the ball and when the Dolphins have the ball like Salguero does on this blog,but I keep my scoresheet and follow 3 stats takeaways points off takeaways and Red Zone scoring because the Dolphins are a young team and they have to take advantage of their scoring opportunities and cant overcome takeaways and the point s off of them.Thats why I started covering these stats this season.Now that I have seen the results of these stats that DIRECTLY relate to the SCORE I will do it again next season.

Posted by: IMAWriter | December 21, 2013 at 06:00 PM

Merry Christmas to you as well. Hope we do get some payback!

Thanks, Rick.
King Shula, thanks for those stats. i enjoyed checking them out. I think MOST of the ASTUTE Media talking heads agree with your assessment that turnovers, points from and against, and reef zone TD's/per appearance in the RZ trump stuff like TOP.

Meant RED Zone, not "reef." LOL

He,he...this asswipe BOYCOTT is still around?...

Say Boycott , there are really stupid people in this world ( you are one of them) and the sad part is most of them don't even realized that they are stupid...

Speed
Aggression
Surprise.

Three keys to beat the Bills.

This blog has really died. I guess because the team is doing well - the trolls don't have as much ammo.

Shame though there aren't many die hard fans here. Out of a population of 500 million, Armando only attracts about 17 of them.

Any fan with half a brain deserted this team years ago. It will take a SB win to get them back.

Just set up the play action pass. Run some draws and mis-directions on them. Draw them off sides a few times.

Fins 34 Bills 10

My son needs to get a life. His posting on the blog every Friday and Saturday night is so sad and lonely.

Yes I'd rather the game was to be played in cold & snow than slightly-less cold & rain. Fortys & rain is MUCH nastier than thirtys & snow. I simply cannot fathom why so many on this site think we're better off with rain & cold.


Yes I'd rather the game was to be played in cold & snow than slightly-less cold & rain. Fortys & rain is MUCH nastier than thirtys & snow. I simply cannot fathom why so many on this site think we're better off with rain & cold.

Posted by: The Seer | December 21, 2013 at 11:21 PM

50 isn't slightly less cold! It isn't even cold! Good grief! And the rain is supposed to be gone by kickoff. Follow the ACTUAL weather forecast, not your ASSumption of what the weather will be!

For the rain paranoid fans! See below for the hour by hour forecast tomorrow!

30% Chance of showers in the latter part of the game. WHOPPIE! Almost no chance of rain the first half. South Florida lives with the same percentage chance of rain every single day! And Buffalo is forecast for showers while S. Florida deals with heavy downpours!

GET A GRIP!

1 PM

Cloudy
44°

Cloudy

FEELS LIKE:38° HUMIDITY:89% PRECIP:10% WIND:SSW at 12 mph

2 PM

Cloudy
44°

Cloudy

FEELS LIKE:38° HUMIDITY:89% PRECIP:10% WIND:SSW at 12 mph

3 PM

Few Showers
45°

FEELS LIKE:39° HUMIDITY:86% PRECIP:30% WIND:SW at 12 mph

4 PM

Few Showers
45°

Few Showers

FEELS LIKE:39° HUMIDITY:86% PRECIP:30% WIND:SW at 12 mph

I expect Sherman to continue to be more innovative on offense, if we need it. I think if we handle the Bills pass rush and don't have a turnover problem, we win.
The innovative part and the Bills pass rush may correlate with each other. I have said that I would like to see Clay in the single back set. Picking up the blitz is just another positive aspect he could provide.

IF we beat this team soundly watch out playoff teams!

This blog has really died. I guess because the team is doing well - the trolls don't have as much ammo.

Shame though there aren't many die hard fans here. Out of a population of 500 million, Armando only attracts about 17 of them.

Posted by: Bartholomew | December 21, 2013 at 10:03 PM
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>**<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Bartholomew,

There are THOUSANDS of die hard Miami Dolphins fans who populate blogs all over the internet. Do a search and go get involved on a few, they love new posts.
This is the Miami Herald. It is the first stop for any and every Miami Dolphin hating troll in the United States and abroad who comes looking to get someone to bite on a negative post. And... they usually find them here and it turns into a 4 page back and forth by some someone just looking to yank a chain.
This is a wide open blog that does not require you to own you comments or have a consistent identity. There was a time a few years back it was one of the better blogs there were for Dolphins fans. The Sun Sentinel was also. But, like anything else in social media where there is no accountability or ownership... They were invaded by the Mongolian hordes and ruined. This and most other local paper blogs have turned into a joke. There are still several good people here who do their best (much respect to them)... But most, myself included, left long ago and just stop in to drop off a thought or two and leave before being chided, harassed or accused of being a troll having 16 different handles...

Very Very Very sad... But very true... The Miami Herald changed it's policies on regular stories published on their online page. You can now only post from facebook. ESPN and NFL Channel have done the same. Armando's blog pretty much stands alone as a wide open space and it shows, regrettably.
As soon as the facebook only posts showed up elsewhere on the Herald, the trolls dropped off like fly's being sprayed with bug killer... The only thing that will save change this blog from being what it has become is by making everyone accountable to there words and show they're TRUE identity (facebook or twitter) every time they post... Trolls hide in the anonymity of the social media. They don't like to be identified or held responsible for they're words.

It is what it is... My Man...... Go Dolphins..!!!!

At this time of year teams with nothing to loose can be very dangerous. Many players are playing for jobs next year. This is very motivational, but also readily put down with good play and good coaching. A shot thru the heart and the secure players will be ready to roll over to keep from getting injured.

Spacebook and Twittless are just two major ways the first amendment has been used against the people. Look at how people are now being ostracized for speaking there opinions on these medias. Athletes, actors and anyone in the spotlight are being constantly monitored for anything that can be used fr a story. In the PC world we live in, if you say anything negative about the weirdos, you get jumped on by both feet from everyone from the Vatican down to the White House. The First Amendment has become reserved for the pro-PC community.

From a logical perspective,I can not understand why anyone would use Spacebook and Twittless to communicate.
Anyone that is really a friend, would know your phone number and you would know theirs. The entire premise is stupid. The only thing that I can summarize is that there is an arrogance factor that is being played.
Perhaps people are so infatuated with the ability to communicate their thoughts to the whole world, that they are stupid to the fact that they may suffer recourse from their printings.

After a bit of a slow start I think Miami will pick it up and run away with this one.

Lord Wallace Rise...

Hartline rise..

Clay Rise...

Matthews rise...

Gameday! With everything on the line the challenge will be a good one for the Phins. This talented young team is ready for that and the sky is the limit. When we win this game today this blog is going to blow up with fans.

Here's what the Phins should do today to be successful in this game. Come out in the 1st quarter, score fast and make the Bills one dimensional. Why not get the ball first and come out in the hurry up? Now is the time to play to win by being aggressive and stay away from the conservative play calling.

Make them go to their passing game and challenge them to beat our pass rush and secondary. Let the DL pin back their ears back and come after this guy. If that happens I really like our chances against Thad.

Trolls hide in the anonymity of the social media. They don't like to be identified or held responsible for they're words.

It is what it is... My Man...... Go Dolphins..!!!!
Posted by: protect the truth | December 22, 2013 at 01:15 AM


So after a long post about bloggers not having to show their identity and then hiding in anonymity, you then hide behind a false name. You just did exactly what you criticized others for doing.

Otherwise a good post and probably accurate.

Like most others, I would expect to see the Bills running backs carrying the load in this game. So I hope the Dolphins coaching staff has prepared the linebackers well. The LBs- and the safeties- have made far too many downfield tackles on running plays this year. They need to stuff some of the running lanes better and make tackles on initial contact.

Failing that, the Dolphins offense should endeavor to put points on the board early and force the Bills into more of a passing game. This would play more to the Dolphins strength.

What I don't expect to see is a worst-case repeat by Tannehill of his error-prone performance in the 1st Bills-Dolphins game. He has been playing well lately- as has the rest of the team- and that should be all that's necessary for a win today.

the Dolphins offense should endeavor to put points on the board early and force the Bills into more of a passing game.

Posted by: billcale | December 22, 2013 at 08:08 AM


Is this supposed to be enlightening analysis or stating the utter obvious?


Some of you have absolutely nothing to say and just like to see your words (hear yourself talk)

the Dolphins offense should endeavor to put points on the board early

Posted by: billcale | December 22, 2013 at 08:08 AM

Gee I wonder if the Dolphins coaching staff has thought of this.

Not only come out in the hurry up the first drive but if it's successful do it again. Seems like the offense is at it's best when in the hurry up. Let's put the ball in the hands of T-hill from the start and get him and the WR's into rhythm.

in a WTH moment... Who saw the D. Bess story? What is that guy thinking? Did he really post a picture of himself toking up on the deck at his house? That's beyond dumb.

What a ride it's been!

We came into the Season with hope brimming out. New weapons, new year, things seemingly in place (even with the bad news from Keller). And our hopes were realized, Miami goes undefeated first few games. It was amazing. Then the letdown. Saints, Baltimore, Bills, Pats, ugh. Back to Earth. Then the wheels fell off, Martin leaves the team, scandal erupts, disaster, finger-pointing. It looked like another Season would be destroyed from within, heartbreak creeping into those familiar places in Dolfans (head, heart). But this time, the team responded differently. A HC who preaches character and oozes respect remained focused, the team became defiant to critics saying they were something they knew they were not. They rallied, they made plays, and they stayed relevant. Appropriately for a team that plays in games decided in the last minute, Miami's Season was to be decided in December. First week, win. Second week, win. They are now in the driver's seat. Win and your in.

May the NFL Gods bless Joe Philbin...and Mike Sherman...and Kevin Coyle...and Ryan Tannehill...and Tyson Clabo...and Lamar Miller...and Mike Wallace...and Charles Clay...and Brian Hartline...and Cameron Wake...and Olivier Vernon...and Brent Grimes...and Nolan Carroll...and ALL the Miami Dolphins.

May the NFL Gods FINALLY shed it's light on the Miami Dolphins. It's been far too long. But if you look up, you just might see that silver lining. It's our time.

IT'S OUR TIME!!!

Truth

The issue with Bess when he was here was that he wasn't always prepared for the defenses we faced. He wasn't the best student of the game Now we know why. He was stoned. He went to school in Hawaii, which is Latin for reefer.

the Dolphins offense should endeavor to put points on the board early

Posted by: billcale | December 22, 2013 at 08:08 AM

Gee I wonder if the Dolphins coaching staff has thought of this.

Posted by: Farley | December 22, 2013 at 08:19 AM

Where oh where has the big douchebag Craig Moron been? At the truck stop glory holes, probably.

Memo to D. Bess....that is still illegal in most states and will get you in trouble with the NFL. I'm sure your employer....the Browns aren't feeling all that groovy either.

However, I do want to say thanks for taking those problems to the Browns. We've had our fill of non sense for the year.

Now was this really a reason to be concerned? The weather forecast today in Buffalo...36 degrees to start the game with rain showers possible and improving conditions as the game goes on. The hour by hour forecast has rain only the first hour of the game. Doesn't seem all that daunting...it could be so much worse there this time of year. Of course I'm not big on worrying about those kinds of things. They have to play in the same weather and it was no help to the Steelers last week.

The Weather Channel website sez high of 42 with 100% chance of rain.
We'll just have to agree to disagree.
I just think mid 40s & rain is MUCH WORSE than cold and snowy.

Typical Bills fans... Per wqam PFT says their hotel fire alarm was set off at 3:00 a. m.
We need Brian Cox to flip those bills the bird.

"The weather is the same for both teams", Don Shula.

Going out on a limb here.........................
Whoever scores the most points today will win the game.

A few comments to the other comments posted here:

I agree Carlos Hyde would be a sound pick late round1. He is from Naples, FL and getting him home as a 'banger' RB would be another good weapon for the Fins. I see value on Thomas and like his running style. But he has been injured too often each year. Hyde enable the Fins to move on from Thomas and likely prove an upgrade and complement to Miller.

I agree stopping Spiller out of the backfield is the primary need of the defense today. He could be a game changing nightmare for the LB's.

I agree that drafting a LT late round one would not be best value. Getting one in round two is ok with me but we have to understand that player may not be starting material year one. I'd be ok getting one in round two if they kept Mckinnie to help develop him for a year. Or if that player replaced Clabo at RT....that would be decent value in a round two draft pick.


Go Fins! My prediction......Fins 23 and Bills 16

I'm a 30 yr Fin fan but WHATEVER needs to happen to get Ireland OFF my team I'm all for.

Around here, We admit absolutely no excuses of any kind, weather, 3am fire alarms, nothing. All We admit around here is Winning.

Dave Hyde just wrote that it's 38 with a high of 45 and a 100% chance of rain. And the winds are blowing 19 mph. Wind and rain makes for nearly a tossup. Oh well, just another hurdle. Someone wrote that both teams are in the same weather. True. But the Bill's, on paper, have the superior running game. Also true.

Then, if you know that, my man, you neutralize it, you neutralize it(the running game).

Nobody wrote that both teams are in the same weather, rather, that the weather is the same for both teams. There is a slight difference. Please redact better.

You guys who are always talking about the one or two deep passes that are missed being the difference in a big win are missing something.

You are assuming it means our defense,who has trouble stopping everyone , is going to make a stop after little rest or is going to keep the score low throughout the game. I'm not sure what people are seeing that makes them assume this would be true. Not hitting on the deep pass doesn't always prevent them from scoring on any particular drive, it just takes the offense longer to get there and gives the D a rest.

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