1. Taming the Wildcat.
The Wildcat formation (RB Ronnie Brown takes a direct snap and either hands off or keeps the ball) was all the rage early, but teams have found ways to stop it in recent weeks. With or without the Wildcat, Miami must establish a running game with Brown and Ricky Williams. Brown is the barometer of the offense, averaging 119 yards (5.8 per carry) in two wins and only 31 yards (2.9) in four losses. He does his best work between the tackles, while Miami tries to get Williams on the perimeter. Look for the Bills to use run blitzes and eight-man fronts to thwart the strength of Miami's offense.
2. Going deep.
QB Trent Edwards should look to air it out today against a Dolphins' pass defense that allows the sixth-most yards and the second-highest total of 20- (23) and 40-yard completions (six). Their secondary has trouble against speed receivers. That could mean big numbers for WR Lee Evans, who has a 30-yard catch in all but one game and owns a 21.4-yard career average against the Dolphins. If Evans is double covered, WR Josh Reed and TE Robert Royal could loom large on intermediate routes. Also keep an eye on RBs Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson as downfield targets. The deep ball can only work if Edwards gets the kind of protection he received last week. The key to that is blocking OLB Joey Porter, who has 8.5 (tied for second in the NFL) of Miami's 16 sacks.
3. Unleashing Lynch.
Lynch is still looking for his first 100-yard game of 2008, but it hasn't been from a lack of trying. The Bills have stayed with the run, averaging 27.5 attempts per game. The Dolphins allow just 97.5 yards per game, but yielded 140 in a loss to Baltimore last week. Miami also may be without NT Jason Ferguson, its best run-stuffer, because of a rib injury. LB Channing Crowder and the other Dolphin defenders must pick up the slack or the Bills' ground attack could wear them down in the Miami heat.
4. Familiar face in different place.
Although Chad Pennington has moved from the New York Jets to the Dolphins, his game hasn't changed. He is smart, accurate and keeps mistakes to a minimum. However, he does not have a big arm. WRs Greg Camarillo (team-high 27 catches) and Ted Ginn can get deep, but Pennington rarely looks downfield. He chooses to dump off to TEs Anthony Fasano (13.8 yards per catch) and David Martin (14.6) or running backs such as third-stringer Patrick Cobbs, who had 53- and 80-yard TD catches at Houston two weeks ago. Not fearing the deep ball, the Bills' cornerbacks will key on the short passes and try to jump routes for interceptions. If DE Aaron Schobel's foot is OK, he'll provide a stern test for Dolphins LT Jake Long, the top pick in the draft.
5. Return to sender.
Roscoe Parrish is 10th in the NFL in punt returns and Leodis McKelvin is 14th among players with at least 12 kickoff returns. Both could rise in the rankings today. The Dolphins are 30th in punt coverage, allowing 14.6 yards per try, and are tied for last in kickoff coverage at 27.6 yards per return. Miami no doubt remembers Parrish's 40-yard return that set up the Bills' winning field goal last year. Parrish and McKelvin are a threat to score and even when they don't they can put the offense in good field position to start drives.
The Dolphins need it more, but the Bills should capture third straight game in Miami. Bills, 20-13.