Buffalo Bills (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Miami Dolphins (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
Pro Football Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, September 27th, 4:25 PM EST
Where: Sun Life Stadium
by Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Buf +2.5/Mia -2.5
The Buffalo Bills travel down to Miami to take on the Dolphins in a battle of 1-1 teams who will be battling all season long with the New York Jets to see who will come in second place in the AFC East. With the arrival of head coach Rex Ryan in Buffalo this offseason many thought they might be able to battle the perennial AFC East Champion New England Patriots for division dominance, but last weeks beatdown in Buffalo by Brady and Belichick showed the Bills are still a far cry from the top of the heap. When we was hired Ryan stated he wanted to turn the Bills into a bully and the team seems to have taken the physical mentality part of that a little too literally as they currently lead the NFL in penalties after two weeks with a whopping twenty five so far. The bully theme began well before the season started, notably with the signing Richie Incognito, who gets to play against his former team the Dolphins this weekend after they cut him in 2014 after his locker room tyranny shenanigans came about.
The quarterback situation in Buffalo took a confusing turn this week when the Bills traded backup quarterback Matt Cassel for next to nothing to Dallas, especially after the random murmurings of displeasure regarding starter Tyrod Taylors three interception performance last week, namely by starting wide receiver Sammy Watkins who stated that Taylor needs to learn to trust his line, alluding to the fact that Taylors lack of pocket presence was the main fault for the eight times he was sacked on Sunday. Watkins only has six catches on the year and cant be happy with the lack of looks he is getting, but he is correct in that Taylor needs to mature as a passer or the Bills offense will continue to falter. The quarterback may have thrown three touchdowns on Sunday, but that doesnt offset the three interceptions and the fact that he only had 89 yards passing in the game before Patriots had built a 37-13 fourth quarter lead and ended up getting a majority of his passing yards against the prevent defense.
The Dolphins are facing internal questions as well as they struggled through a sloppy week one win against Washington and then lost last week to Jacksonville in another game marred by mistakes and penalties. The run defense which was supposed to be the strength of defense has been a colossal disappointment thus far, ranking 27th in the NFL. This lack of success can be traced very easily to the early season failure of defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh, who signed a $114 million contract in the offseason and has contributed just two tackles on the year thus far and to make matters worse, there were widespread reports of Suh doing his own thing and freelancing on defense in Sundays loss to the Jaguars which led to assignment disarray and open opportunities for the Jacksonville offense to succeed. The Dolphins D-line will have to play significantly better this weekend as Bills running back Lesean McCoy seemed to find his stride against New England, rushing for 89 yards on just 15 carries and could be in for a productive day if Suh and his teammates continue to falter.
Miamis offense is hoping for some health rejuvenation by Sundays game as three of their key players were on the sidelines due to injury by the end of last weeks loss in Jacksonville- running back Lamar Miller, tight end Jordan Cameron and left tackle Brandon Albert, all of whom are questionable to play on Sunday. Albert, who is already recovering from two torn ligaments in his knee is now battling a hamstring injury, is the most in doubt for playing against the Bills and this poses problems for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who struggled against the blitz last week and can expect to face constant pressure from the strong Buffalo defensive line all day Sunday if the Miami offensive line cant get any sort of stability or cohesiveness going. They will also need to close out the game on the field a lot smoother than last week, as the Dolphins were flagged eight times in the fourth quarter of Sundays loss to the Jaguars, none worse than late in the fourth when the game was tied and defensive end Oliver Vernon was called for roughing the passer to set up Jacksonville up with great field position for an easy go-ahead field goal
The recent history of games between the teams appears to be in Miamis favor, as the favorite has covered the number in seven of their last eight matchups and the home team has covered in five of the last six. The Bills have also covered just twice in their last eight trips to Miami, which is a bit of a surprise as Miami football, both college and pro, has suffered a large home team advantage letdown since they lost the magic of the original Orange Bowl when it was torn down and neither has had a great deal of success since. Definitely doesnt help either to play in a city that has progressively gained a strong reputation in recent years for having some of the worst fans in professional sports due to their front runner nature and lack of basic knowledge when it comes to rooting for their home town teams (different sport, but hard to forget when the Miami Heat made the NBA finals and team management had to leave sheets of paper on every seat in the arena to teach their clueless fans how to cheer for their team).
In a battle of two teams looking to find stability in their race for a divisional silver medal I am going with the Dolphins. The Bills could be in for a bit of letdown after putting so much emphasis on last weeks game against New England, a fact pointed out by a couple of their own players that they were too fired up for what some in Buffalo were calling their biggest game in years and had fans paying record prices for tickets. The Dolphins have been sluggish through their first two weeks but quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed signs of life last week throwing for 359 yards and two touchdowns and if given a bit of time by his offensive line should be able to find some success against Buffalo defensive backfield that is missing their starting safety Aaron Williams, who was injured last week against New England after talking trash during the week leading up to the game and than continuously during the game despite the fact his team was getting absolutely torched by Tom Brady. Teams that play stupid dont usually do well in the NFL and this weeks winner will be decided by whichever of the penalty ridden teams does their best to evade easily avoidable mistakes and let their on the field results do the talking.
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