The Miami Dolphins have lost three consecutive games to the Buffalo Bills and four of the past five.
Was it great quarterback play by the Bills?
Was it great coaching by the Bills?
With all due respect to Doug Marrone, not really.
Was it Buffalo's obvious quality, in that they beat practically everyone else so them beating the Dolphins makes sense?
Absolutely not. The Bills last year finished last in the AFC East last season.
So why the heck do the Bills have this, this advantage of late over the good guys?
I have a theory. But I don't count. Joe Philbin has a theory. He counts because if he can identify the issue, it is logical he can then have his team work to correct the issue.
So what does Philbin see as the common themes the Bills have been able to take advantage of during their current string?
"I think they've run the ball better," Philbin said today. "I thnk third down has been an issue and then takeaways. Those are the three things I would say."
Well in Oct 2013, the Bills ran the ball 30 times against the Dolphins for 90 yards -- a 3.0 average. The Dolphins ran it 25 times for 125 yards -- a 4.8 average. The second meeting last year, the Bills ran it 51 times for 203 yards -- a 4.0 average. The Dolphins ran it only 12 times for 14 yards -- a paltry 1.2 yard average. Earlier this year the Bills ran it 33 times for 113 yards -- a 3.4 yard per rush average. The Dolphins averaged 3.8 yards per rush, running it 21 times for 80 yards.
So in two of the three games, the Dolphins averaged more yards per rush than the Bills although the Bills outgained Miami in two of the three games.
The Dolphins were indeed terrible on third down last October. They converted only 3 of 13 while the Bills won that battle by converting 9 of 19. In the rematch the Dolphins converted only two of 14 opportunities while the Bills converted 7 of 19 third downs. So last year the Dolphins converted a total of five out of 27 third down chances.
Earlier this year, The Dolphins converted five of 16 third downs but the Bills didn't do much better, converting 5 of 15.
The Bills won the turnover battle last October, won the turnover battle in the rematch last December, and won the turnover battle earlier this season.
So the formula for beating the Bills would be to run the ball, win on third down and not give up turnovers.
How does that happen?
There's the problem. Practically every one of those issues are derived from this bigger issue: The Bills have won the matchup along the line of scrimmage.
They run better than Miami. They stop the run better than Miami. They generally create more pressure on third down and that obviously comes from winning along the line of scrimmage while containing the Dolphins' pressure up front, allowing more third down conversions.
And the turnovers? The Bills, again, pressure Ryan Tannehill into mistakes as he's thrown three interceptions against them while Matt Moore has thrown two of his own. The Miami line also pressures the Buffalo quarterbacks into mistakes but only twice and none in the game earlier this year.
The Dolphins must find a way to win up front against the Bills. With a new left tackle (Ju'Wuan James), a new right tackle (Dallas Thomas) and perhaps a new left guard (Shelley Smith) if Daryn Colledge cannot play again, that is going to be a tough assignment.