Bills look to complete season sweep of Dolphins

By Connor Byrne  |   Friday, December 02, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

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On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills (4-7) will head for Miami to take on the Dolphins (4-7) in a battle of bitter AFC East rivals. Buffalo comes in on a two-game losing skid, after a bitter 13-9 defeat against the Carolina Panthers last week. As for Miami, they come in feeling good about themselves after their 33-21 win over the Oakland Raiders last week. Home field hasn't been an advantage this year for the Dolphins as they come in just 2-3 at Dolphins Stadium. Meanwhile, the Bills have lost all five of their road games in 2005 and are looking to put a long-awaited victory on the board. Their last road win came on December 26th of 2004.

Lately, the Buffalo Bills have found continuity at the quarterback position, as second-year man J.P. Losman will make his third consecutive start. Dolphins' defensive end Jason Taylor (8 sacks) has an opportunity to have a field day this weekend. He'll line up against Buffalo's porous offensive line. When given time, Losman will look to his starting receivers, Eric Moulds and Lee Evans, to torch Miami's 14th ranked pass-defense. The onus for the Dolphins will be on their starting corners, Travis Daniels and Sam Madison, to stymie Buffalo's passing attack. The wild card in Buffalo's passing game this week could be rookie Roscoe Parrish. The former University of Miami standout makes his return to south Florida this week. It'll be interesting to see if Parrish will use his explosive speed to come up with some big plays in this matchup.

The Bills' starting running back, Willis McGahee, would certainly like to leave his November demons behind him. In three games last month, McGahee rushed for a grand total of 159 yards on 51 carries. For a man who calls himself the best back in the NFL, those are some weak numbers. Like Parrish, McGahee was also a former University of Miami standout who may be inspired by returning to his old stomping grounds. When these two teams squared off in October, McGahee was held to 86 yards on 31 carries by Miami's defense. However, he may have an easier time since the Dolphins' star middle linebacker, Zach Thomas, likely won't suit up this Sunday. Without Thomas, the Dolphins still bring some big-named veterans in their front seven. Veterans Kevin Carter, Jason Taylor, Vonnie Holliday, and Keith Traylor start on the Dolphins' defensive line. Miami's linebacking corps will consist of rookie Channing Crowder, Donnie Spragan, and Derrick Pope will take Thomas' spot. If ever McGahee was going to regain form, it would be this week. The Dolphins' run-defense is ranked just 24th in the NFL.

Coming into the game, the Dolphins certainly can't say they have anything special at quarterback, but at least they have continuity. Veteran Gus Frerotte has started all but one of the team's 11 games and will make his 11th start this week. On the season, he's thrown 12 touchdowns and has been picked off 11 times. Buffalo's defensive line, led by defensive end Aaron Schobel (8 sacks), will need to get pressure on Frerotte and make him force bad throws. Frerotte has three solid weapons in the passing game: receivers Chris Chambers and Marty Booker, and tight end Randy McMichael. Chambers leads the team with 45 receptions, McMichael is second with 39, and Booker has pulled in 24. Bills' cornerback Nate Clements always has great games against the Dolphins but he also has been known to give some big plays up to Chambers. It's a great duel every time these two players spar with each other. Buffalo's linebackers, London Fletcher, Angelo Crowell, and Jeff Posey will all have some responsibility in stopping McMichael. If they fail, it could be a long day for the Bills. Miami's passing game may get a lift as Bills' strong safety Lawyer Milloy could miss this week's game with an injured foot. Milloy's possible absence means that veteran backup Coy Wire could start. Throughout his career, Wire has been a major liability in coverage. It'll be interesting to see if he can elevate his play this weekend.

The Dolphins bring the best 1-2 punch in the league when it comes to running the football. Rookie Ronnie Brown leads the team with 789 yards rushing on 4.7 yards per carry. Veteran Ricky Williams has averaged 4.1 yards per carry in his eight games this year, and has really elevated his play in the last two weeks. The duo should destroy Buffalo's 31st ranked run-defense. For the Bills, defensive tackle Sam Adams will apparently start if he's healthy enough. Adams and head coach Mike Mularkey had a falling out prior to last Sunday's game that led to Adams going home to watch the contest on television. All signs pointed to Adams' career as a Bill being over, but evidently not.

The special teams advantage in this game certainly goes to the Bills. Their kick-return man, Terrence McGee, could return from injury this week, and if he does, he will likely frustrate the Dolphins. On the year, McGee leads the league with 31.6 yards per return. Last year, when these two teams met in Miami, McGee took the opening kickoff all the way for a touchdown and that set the tone for Buffalo's 42-32 victory. Miami's kick-returner, Wes Welker, comes in averaging just 22.2 yards per return. The punting matchup in this game is a good one as the Bills bring the AFC's special teamer of the month, Brian Moorman. On the season Moorman has 46.4 yards per punt. That's good enough for third in the NFL. As for the Dolphins, they bring Donnie Jones. Currently, he ranks eighth in yards per punt at 44.8. The kicking matchup is fairly close as Bills' kicker Rian Lindell has knocked down 21 of his 25 field goals. Dolphins' kicker Olindo Mare has netted 15 of his 19 attempts.

In the end, the difference in this game will be revenge and the Bills' inability to win a road game. In this game, Miami will be looking to avenge their 20-14 loss to the Bills back in October. Also, Miami has lost their last three contests against the Bills and that will certainly fire them up in one of the league's biggest rivalries. Fans of the Bills would love to see them defeat their hated rival, but how can they if they are such an abysmal road team?

Mark it down... Dolphins win 21-20.

Miami Dolphins injury report:

WR Marty Booker, OG Rex Hadnot, and DE's Matt Roth and David Bowens are all questionable. LB Zach Thomas is out.

Buffalo Bills injury report:

TE Mark Campbell, OL Mike Williams, CB Terrence McGee, and S Lawyer Milloy are all questionable.

Comments? E-mail the author: cbyrne@realfootball365.com
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