Wide receiver Jakeem Grant powers through a member of the Bills secondary in Week 11 of 2019.
Here we go Dolphins fans! Week Two of the season is upon us!
This week, the Fins will cross paths with their second division foe in as many weeks, hosting the Buffalos Bills for their home opener. These teams know each other well, having met 112 times (Miami leads the series all time 60-51-1) since 1966.
Despite Miami leading the series as a whole, Buffalo has enjoyed more success in these matchups as of late, notably whipping out the broom for their sweep in two games against the Dolphins last season.
After a disappointing week one display against New England, it is imperative the Fins improve their result this week. A loss this week would sink the Fins putting them behind the eight-ball with an 0-2 record, especially with both losses coming in division contests. Let’s preview this crucial matchup, and see what the Fins need to do to come out on top! Questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter – @Donny_Diablo7.
When, Where, What Else?
Hard Rock Stadium.
The Dolphins are scheduled to take on the Buffalo Bills at home, in the confines of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Kickoff is set for 1:00pm EST, with forecasts for the start of the game showing a high of 87 degrees and a 77% humidity index. The expectation is for partial cloudiness early in the morning, with scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon, classic Florida weather, which should bode well for the Dolphins.
Thankfully, there will be fans in attendance at this game as Hard Rock Stadium plans to fill 13,000 seats this Sunday, a generous bump up compared to Cleveland (allowing 6,000 fans) and Indianapolis (allowing 2,500 fans). It is worth noting the only two teams who hosted fans in week one (Kansas City and Jacksonville) both were victorious.
Despite Commissioner Roger Goodell saying there is no competitive advantage to having fans in attendance, they do have an impact on the game. Players feed off of their energy, especially in pivotal moments during contests. Those lucky in-person attendees need to show some love in the stands this week, and help propel the Fins to victory.
Tale of the Tape
DT Christian Wilkins celebrates a sack. September 13th, 2020.
Miami Dolphins (0-1):
The Fins are coming off a disappointing Week One loss on the road against New England. While the defense had its moments, namely forcing their first turnover of the year (via a Jerome Baker forced fumble) to keep the Patriots out of the end zone, there were not enough impact plays on defense to turn the tide for the Fins.
The story of the afternoon was written by Cam Newton and the Patriots running attack, for which the Miami rush defense had no answers. The Fins surrendered 217 yards on the ground for a robust 5.2 YPC, allowing the Patriots to possess the ball the majority of afternoon, and control the flow of the game.
On the offensive side of the ball, prospects weren’t any more forgiving, as the revamped rushing attack produced a mere 87 yards, and Ryan Fitzpatrick logged three interceptions to zero touchdowns. The Dolphins are on the losing end of a 1-5 record over the last three years against Buffalo, with their last win coming in December 2018 (in Miami).
Buffalo Bills (1-0):
It was a reunion in the AFC East last week, as each team got the opportunity to face off against a division rival. The Bills are looked at as the top contender in the division this year, and got off to a great start. They defeated the New York Jets with a score of 27-17, on the road in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicates.
In watching this game, the Bills looked fast and full of energy on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Buffalo started strong out of the gate, forcing the Jets into three-and-outs on their first three possessions. They also didn’t allow New York past midfield through the first quarter.
Much stayed the same throughout the day, aside from a 69-yard touchdown from Jets WR Jamison Crowder. The Buffalo defense tortured Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, sacking him three times, intercepting him once, and yielded just 254 total offensive yards on the day.
Offensively, Josh Allen put on a show, throwing for over 300 yards for the first time in his career, and adding two touchdowns through the air. Allen also led the team in rushing, with 57 yards and a rushing touchdown. The Bills dominated the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 41:16. Buffalo finished last season with a Wild Card loss to the Houston Texans, the second first-round exit in as many games in the Coach Sean McDermott era. Buffalo has won the last three games against Miami with a score of 110-58.
Head to Head
Buffalo QB Josh Allen. September 13, 2020.
Josh Allen V. DC Josh Boyer: Josh Allen has had his way with the Dolphins over the course of his young career. He boasts a 3-1 record to go along with a gaudy stat line of 72/118-913-10-3 according to Pro Football reference. Throw in his prowess as a runner against Miami (10.97 YPC), and Miami’s looking at the same issue as last week, a physical dual threat quarterback. If the previous week’s performance against Cam Newton is an indication of things to come, then Boyer and the Miami defense will certainly struggle to contain Josh Allen. Edge: Bills
Buffalo Offensive Line V. Dolphins Defensive Line: The Bills revamped their offensive line in the offseason. They held up fairly well all day, and Coach McDermott praised the unit in his post-game press conference. Buffalo did however, give up three sacks on the day, and I’m betting Shaq Lawson would like to remind his former team why Miami gave him the big bucks in the offseason. Edge: Dolphins
Bills Skills Positions V. Dolphins Coverage: In years past, the Bills have lacked elite talent at the skill positions, but that changed with the addition of WR Stefon Diggs. Paired with Buffalo’s young core of playmakers, including running backs Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, and TE Dawson Knox, Buffalo has the weapons to threaten any defense. Miami’s talented secondary is the strength of the defense, and they played well last week, surrendering just 140 yards passing and no touchdowns, but Miami is going to need a similar performance to come out on top. Edge: Dolphins
What Must Happen
EDGE Shaq Lawson last week at New England. September 13th, 2020.
- Limit Josh Allen’s running ability : We saw what happened last week. Miami can not let Allen abuse them with his legs all afternoon. The Fins need to be aggressive at the point of attack, and hit Allen any chance they get. Make him think twice when running later in the game.
- Wideouts must get separation: The Fins receivers need to do a better job of giving Ryan Fitzpatrick a window to put the football, in order to generate explosive plays. Too much reliance on 50-50 balls against the Bills’ ballhawking secondary – featuring the likes of Tre’Davious White, Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde – is a recipe for disaster.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick must take care of the football: It’s hard to win football games at any level when you are careless with the football. Fitzpatrick said it himself, following his three interception performance after last weeks game. He needs to clean up the turnovers. If Fitzy can get back on track, the Dolphins have a shot to upset the Bills.
- Defend the deep ball: Josh Allen is known for his big arm. Now armed with a pair of the best deep ball receivers in the league in Stefon Diggs and John “Smokey” Brown, it becomes that much more lethal. It is imperative for the Dolphins secondary to communicate on the back end, and not give Allen the opportunity to strike down the field.
- Butterfingers!: I’ve given Josh Allen all praise to this point, but he does come with a caveat: fumbling. Despite his performance last week, he fumbled the ball two times throughout the contest. Given the forecast of wet weather, and Allen’s inability to hold on to the ball at times, Miami defenders need to be on the look out at all times in case the ball hits the turf.
Key Match Ups
- Josh Allen vs. Dolphins front seven
- Stefon Diggs/John Brown vs. Xavien Howard/Byron Jones
- Bills O-Line vs. Shaq Lawson
- Bills Secondary vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Alright Fins fans, it’s prediction time, and if you were looking for a happy ending I’d stop reading right now.
After last weeks performance against the Patriots, basically a mirror image of the Bills with better players at the skill positions, I don’t see the Dolphins coming out of this weekend at the .500 mark. Josh Allen and the Bills are on a mission this season to establish themselves at the top of the AFC East. If Fitz and the Dolphins don’t show major improvements on both sides of the ball I fear this one could get away from them quick. Prediction: Bills win 28-10.