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It has been quite some time since the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills have made postseason appearances. After defeating the AFC East’s top two teams last weekend, however, both have a chance to end their droughts.
The Dolphins visit the Bills on Sunday in a matchup of clubs hoping to build on their respective division victories and better their playoff chances.
Miami and Buffalo, both 6-7, resurfaced in the crowded conference race after convincing victories over East opponents last Sunday. Neither team can clinch a berth with a win this week, but both can improve their positioning.
“It will be difficult to do, but challenges are what we play this game for,” defensive end Jason Taylor told the Dolphins’ official Web site. “We’ll just keep trying to win. We have to go to Buffalo and beat a tough team up there. It will sort itself out.”
If Taylor and the Dolphins’ defense keep playing well, Miami might be able to make its first playoff appearance since the 2001 season.
The Dolphins, who have won five of their last six games, recorded their first shutout in six seasons with a 21-0 home victory over division-leading New England last Sunday. It was the 10th time this season that Miami has held an opponent to 20 points or fewer.
Taylor and safety Yeremiah Bell combined for 15 tackles and two sacks as Miami’s second-ranked defense held the Patriots to a season-low 189 yards. The Dolphins allow 278.2 yards per game.
“A lot of guys brought their A-game so to speak and won a lot of individual battles out there with the effort, the toughness, the intensity, the focus that they played with,” Miami coach Nick Saban said. “Whatever his role was in the game, he was going to go in there and do a good job of that.”
Bell, in his third NFL season, has 38 of his career-high 49 tackles in the last six games. Taylor, who has the third-most sacks in the league with 104 over the last 10 seasons, has 4 1/2 during that span and is third in the NFL with 11 1/2 on the season.
Miami’s offense also played well last week.
Buffalo won 16-6 in Miami on Sept. 17 despite behind held to 171 yards, a season low for a Dolphins’ opponent. In that contest, Bills quarterback J.P. Losman threw for just 83 yards, but his TD pass to Josh Reed and Rian Lindell’s three field goals were all Buffalo needed.
The Bills are 30th in the NFL in total offense with 258.8 yards per game, but racked up 318 and scored their most points of the season in a 31-13 road win over the New York Jets last Sunday.
Losman completed 10 of 15 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and Willis McGahee ran for 125 yards and a score as Buffalo won for the third time in four games. The Bills haven’t reached the playoffs since the 1999 season.
“The season is not over,” Losman told the Bills’ official Web site. “We’ve got a long way to go. As long as we keep winning you never know what is going to happen at the end.”
Following this contest, the Dolphins conclude their regular season with a Christmas night matchup at home against the Jets and a visit to AFC South-leading Indianapolis on Dec. 31. The Bills, meanwhile, host Tennessee on Dec. 24 before visiting AFC North-leading Baltimore in their finale on Dec. 31.
Buffalo has won four of the last five meetings in this series and six of the last nine matchups at Ralph Wilson Stadium.