Tale Of The Tape: Miami Dolphins At Buffalo Bills
- QuarterbackThe Dolphins appeared to be dead and buried earlier in the year when they were in a midseason slump and they were inundated with questions about the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal. However, quarterback Ryan Tannehill refused to let his team capitulate and the Dolphins now have their playoff destiny in their own hands.The Bills have been quite competitive this season and they are coming off a confidence-building road victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have played their best football at home and there’s nothing they would like better than punishing the Dolphins. Rookie E.J. Manuel makes his share of mistakes, but he is competitive and can get the ball to open receivers.
- OffenseThe Dolphins don’t have a lot of stars on offense, but head coach Joe Philbin has resourceful players who can make plays. Start off with running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, who can do just enough to take the heat off the passing game. Brian Hartline has excellent hands, while Mike Wallace has game-breaking ability. Don’t overlook tight end Charles Clay, who can use his size to wall off defenders.The Bills have been inconsistent on offense, and that’s why they are not in playoff contention. Running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller give them a solid ground-gaining duo. However, when the Bills need big plays, they are going to Robert Woods and Scott Chandler, who both had productive games against the Jaguars. Stevie Johnson can also hit the home run for the Bills.
- DefenseThe Dolphins have been a middle-of-the-pack defensive team throughout the majority of the year as they rank 16th in yards allowed. However, they stopped Tom Brady and the Patriots in the final seconds of the fourth quarter to preserve their Week 15 victory. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler is a responsible leader and the team’s best tackler. Defensive end Olivier Vernon leads the team with 11.5 sacks.The Bills are a slightly above average defensive team. While they are prone to give up some yards in the running game, their pass defense ranks sixth and has been surprisingly effective. Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso has been a tackling machine and he also does a nice job against the pass. Defensive end Mario Williams is the team’s best pass rusher.
- Special TeamsThe Dolphins have done a nice job covering kickoffs and punts, but they have not gotten a lot of big plays from Marcus Thigpen as a return specialist. However, Thigpen caught the game-winning TD pass against New England and his confidence is high. PK Caleb Sturgis has been fairly steady after a poor start.The Bills have had struggles with their own coverage teams and rookie head coach Doug Marrone does not have anyone who is a legitimate threat who can return kickoffs or punts. Placekicker Dan Carpenter has been quite consistent, making 27-of-30 FG attempts this season.
While it may seem like this should be an easy game for the Dolphins after beating a much better New England Patriots team, playing the Bills on the road in December is a very tough assignment. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor