Buffalo Bills (1-2 SU, 2-1 ATS) vs. Miami Dolphins (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS), 4:05 p.m. EST, Sunday, October 4, 2009, Land Shark Stadium, Miami, Fla. TV: CBS
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bills -2.5/Dolphins -2.5
Sunday’s Bills-Dolphins matchup marks the return of Bills running back Marshawn Lynch and the departure of Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington. Lynch was suspended for the first three games of the season. Pennington injured his shoulder on Sunday against the Chargers and will miss the rest of the season.
The Dolphins will now turn to Chad Henne, who was expected to start at some point this season. Henne is regarded by the organization as the future franchise quarterback and he gets his first opportunity to shine this weekend against Buffalo.
Don’t expect much from the Dolphins passing game. It’s unknown yet if Henne is ready to take on the responsibility of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. Besides that, he doesn’t have any top-notch receivers to throw to. Davone Bess and Ted Ginn, Jr. lead the way for the Dolphins with a combined 30 catches for 274 yards, but no touchdowns. Running back Ricky Williams has the lone receiving touchdown for the Dolphins.
Williams, who has carried the ball 34 times for 163 yards and a touchdown, shares the load with the feature back, Ronnie Brown, who has 52 carries for 254 yards and two touchdowns. The Dolphins introduced the wildcat offense into the NFL last season and it is perhaps their greatest weapon. Brown does a nice job running the wildcat offense to perfection.
The Dolphins struggled on offense in their opening week loss to the Falcons. They ran for just 96 yards, and when they don’t establish a solid running attach they usually do struggle. On Monday Night Football against the Colts, the Dolphins controlled most of the game before Peyton Manning threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon with 3:18 left in the game. In that game, Brown had 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Against the Chargers, the Dolphins looked good early with a 94-yard drive but Pennington fumbled near the goal line. Miami totaled 86 yards in the final six minutes of the game after trailing 23-6. In the middle of the game, the Dolphins only had 115 yards of total offense. Yet, they still had a chance to win the game before Henne threw a late interception to Eric Weddle, who returned it for a touchdown to put the game out of reach.
The Dolphins defense has kept them in every game thus far. They’ve faced three of the top offenses in the NFL in the Falcons, Colts and Chargers, yet they’ve given up a total of just 69 points. It’s the offense that has disappointed and it will likely only get worse with a new quarterback.
The Bills started their season with a disappointing 25-24 loss to the Patriots. Buffalo had a 24-13 lead with 5:32 left in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass to Ben Watson with 2:06 remaining. Then, Leodis McKelvin fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Brady capitalized with another touchdown pass to Watson.
The Bills really squandered an opportunity in that game, but they bounced back with a 33-20 win over the Buccaneers before losing on Sunday 27-7 to the Saints.
In the loss to the Saints, the Bills gave up 222 rushing yards. Normally, Drew Brees is the reason the Saints win games, but it was Pierre Thomas and the Saints run game against Buffalo. The Bills hadn’t really faced a strong running team in their first two games. The Patriots rely mostly on Brady and the passing game, while the Buccaneers simply don’t have a good offense.
Buffalo has been led by quarterback Trent Edwards and running back Fred Jackson. Edwards threw two touchdown passes in each of the first two games before the Bills offense struggled against the Saints. Jackson, who was filling in for the suspended Lynch, has been a pleasant surprise for the Bills. He has 291 yards in the three games, and he now may challenge Lynch, who was expected to retain his job, for the starting spot.
Terrell Owens was supposed to help the Bills offense this season, but he has just five receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Ryno’s Pick: The Dolphins are 0-3 ATS this season and 0-5 ATS in their last five home games. It’s natural to expect them to struggle offensively with Henne taking over the QB responsibilities. But if they can run all over the Bills defense, it will make it easier for Henne. The Dolphins are a better running team than any of the Bills’ opponents thus far, and they gave up 222 rushing yards to the Saints. Ronnie Brown should have a huge game on Sunday. The Dolphins have a very good defense that held its own against the Falcons, Colts and Chargers, three teams with better offenses than the Bills. Take the Dolphins +2.