Game Scout: Dolphins at Bills

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Miami Dolphins (8-6) at Buffalo Bills (5-9)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y. - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein
*Keys to the game: QB Thad Lewis will make his fourth start of the season for the Bills with rookie EJ Manuel sidelined by another knee injury. While Lewis lacks Manuel's speed and rocket arm, more of the playbook could be available after Buffalo dialed it back a bit last week. The downfield passing game will still be difficult to establish with shaky pass protection. The Dolphins' weakness is a run defense allowing 117.2 yards per game. Buffalo will feed RBs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller and bank of that offensive line wearing Miami down in a cold road game. The Dolphins' offense runs the ball just enough to keep opponents honest, which is critical against a strong pass-rushing Buffalo defense. The Bills have struggled in allowing big plays, especially with the back seven over-running their assignments and leaving gaping holes.
*Matchup to watch - Dolphins LG Sam Brenner vs. Bills DT Marcell Dareus: Brenner has gone from the practice squad to regular starter, unseating Nate Garner, in the matter of weeks. He won't face a much stiffer test than Dareus, who is highly athletic for his 6-3, 331-pound frame. Dareus is recovering from a sprained ankle that bears watching.
*Player spotlight - Dolphins CB Will Davis: The third-round rookie out of Utah State was peppered with slant passes by New England after replacing Nolan Carroll (knee) last week. If Carroll is out or limited, look for the Bills to target Davis whenever he's on the field.
*Fast facts: If the Dolphins win their final two regular-season games, they will reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. ... The Bills' defense is allowing opponents to convert 38 percent of 3rd-and-7 or longer situations.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has not suffered a multi-interception game since Week 8 and as thrown eight touchdowns during the team's three-game winning streak. He's playing controlled football and picking his spots, and Miami takes just enough advantage of Buffalo's over-aggressive run defense.
*Our pick: Dolphins 23-16

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