Dolphins-Bills Preview: A Face-Off of AFC Also-Rans

Miami hasn't won two straight games since weeks 1 and 2, but a date with Buffalo could change that

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Roscoe Parrish #11 of the Buffalo Bills returns a punt against the Miami Dolphins during the NFL season opener at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 12, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

    Details: Buffalo Bills (3-10) at Miami Dolphins (7-6)
    TV: CBS, 1 p.m., Bill Macatee, Rich Gannon
    Line: Dolphins by 5.5
    Previously: Dolphins won 15-10 in Buffalo in Week 1

    What a difference most of a season makes. Last time Miami met Buffalo, Dolphins fans were just happy the offseason was over. Now, they've got to worry whether or not the would-be future of their franchise will notch more than 50 passing yards.

    Strangely, because we've come to assume everything is terrible in post-Jim Kelly Buffalo always, both the Bills and the Fins have been enjoying stronger defensive seasons: Miami is ranked 5th in the NFL overall (6th passing, 7th rushing, and 9th in points) while Buffalo's passing defense ranks 4th, largely on the strength of corners Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence. 

    McGee and Florence, of course, will do their damndest to contain the beast Brandon Marshall, and they'll get help from the Dolphins's own floundering offense. Miami's $50 million man hasn't enjoyed more than five catches or 64 yards in 8 weeks, a stat load-bearing kicker Dan Carpenter's leg probably complains about as many times a day.

    What's gone wrong? Blame it on the Henne. Young Chad reacted well to his would-be benching after Chad Pennington went down with injury, but only for a game: last week against the Jets, Henne completed all of 5 of his 18 passing attempts for a measly 55 yards.

    If Marshall attempts to strangle him on the sidelines, we're pretty sure at this point even the Miami Gardens police department would look the other way.

    Bill to Watch: Human waterbug/running back C.J. Spiller can be a demon on returns and shifty on the run. He'll face Karlos Dansby coming out of the backfield, but the Dolphins' special teams has enjoyed exactly one acceptable outing in the return coverage department, containing the Jets' Brad Smith on both punts and kickoffs last week. Can they do it twice? Don't bet on it.

    Favorable Stat of Dubious Encouragement: The Bills sport a putrid -6 turnover differential, but the Dolphins are one worse with -7. On the plus side, Miami's a respectable 2-4 in games in which they've lost the turnover battle, while the Bills are 0-8. Get ready for some sloppy pros.

    Just Plain Favorable Stat: The Bills have the league's dead-last run D.

    "Expert" Picks: Ron Jaworski, Gregg Rosenthal, Solomon Wilcots, Chris Mortensen, Jason Cole, Brian Baldinger, Tom Jackson, Mike Florio, Pete Prisco, and Michael Lombardi are picking aqua and orange. Peter King and Adam Schefter have tapped the Bills -- and will the Dolphins' home record of 1-5, who can blame them? 

    What Will Happen: the Dolphins will finally see their running game gain ground, and the defense will keep up its monster play. Miami 24, Buffalo 7.