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Jay Skurski's Bills-Dolphins Scouting Report: Miami brings out the best in Taylor

When the Bills run: LeSean McCoy sits just 39 yards from a huge career milestone of 10,000 yards. McCoy’s running ability in the snow is out of this world — it looks like he’s playing on a different surface than everybody else. The Bills have quietly improved to sixth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 130.1 yards per game. That's almost all McCoy. If he doesn’t get the milestone, it figures to be a long day for the offense. Miami held the Patriots to just 25 yards rushing on Monday night, the fewest the Dolphins have given up all season. Overall, Miami is right smack in the middle of the league rankings against the run, allowing 109.5 yards per game, tied with Oakland for 15th best. Linebacker play, including from old friend Kiko Alonso, has been a weak spot for the Dolphins, but defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been a force in recent games after getting healthy. EDGE: Bills.

When the Bills pass: Tyrod Taylor practiced fully Wednesday, a good sign he’ll be able to return to the lineup. Taylor has played some of his best football against Miami, going 72 of 108 (66.7 completion percentage) for 1,008 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in four games. His only career 300-yard game came against Miami last season in Buffalo. Even if Taylor’s time with the Bills is coming to a close, there’s plenty at stake for him the last three weeks of the season. He’ll be playing for a new contract somewhere. Miami defensive lineman Jordan Phillips has three sacks in the last four weeks after registering 2.5 in the first 39 games of his career. Cornerback Xavien Howard became the first Dolphin to have back-to-back games with multiple interceptions when he picked Tom Brady off twice Monday night. EDGE: Dolphins.

When the Dolphins run: Kenyan Drake, a third-round draft pick in 2016, has established himself as the starter with back-to-back big games. Drake rushed for 120 yards against the Broncos in Week 13, then followed that up with 193 yards from scrimmage in the upset win over the Patriots. It's clear now what the Dolphins saw in him that made the team comfortable trading away Jay Ajayi. Damien Williams has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. He was getting between 7-10 carries per game before getting hurt. Stopping the run will be huge for Buffalo — Miami is 11-1 under Adam Case when it rushes for at least 100 yards. EDGE: Dolphins.

When the Dolphins pass: Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up? Are the Bills going to see the quarterback who carved up the Patriots (25 of 38, 263 yards, three touchdowns) or the one who threw six interceptions in the previous three games? Cutler has always had a great arm. He can be very good when he’s engaged and getting the ball out of his hands quickly. His favorite target is Jarvis Landry, who has has 88 catches and eight touchdowns this season after entering 2017 with 13 TDs in his first three years. Kenny Stills gives the Dolphins a legitimate deep threat, averaging 15.0 yards per catch. He leads the team in receiving yards with 751 on 50 catches, while Landry’s 88 catches have produced 745 yards. EDGE: Dolphins.

Special teams: Colton Schmidt got some much-deserved love for his game last week against the Colts, but long snapper Reid Ferguson shouldn’t be left out earlier. He was a big part of the success on special teams, both with Schmidt’s punts and Stephen Hauschka’s extra point. The Bills didn’t make a single mistake on special teams in the worst weather imaginable. Dolphins kicker Cody Parker is 15 of 16 on field goals this season. Punter Matt Haack is averaging 40.8 net yards, and has placed 28 of 73 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Dolphins had an eventful game on special teams two weeks ago, recovering an onside kick — that was attempted with the team leading, 33-9 — and Terence Fede blocking a punt. EDGE: Even.

Coaching: Adam Gase has had a trying season, as his decision to sign Cutler has mostly backfired. Give credit to the Dolphins’ coach for matching wits with Bill Belichick last week, though, in what was Miami’s best performance of the season. Talk in Miami has been about the Dolphins running the table and getting into the postseason at 9-7, so finding motivation for a December trip to Buffalo shouldn’t be a problem. Defensive coordinator Matt Burke cooked up a good game plan against Brady that involved disguised coverages and plenty of pressure. I’m still shaking my head at Sean McDermott’s decision to punt in overtime against the Colts. McDermott said in March he was going to be aggressive in those situations, but he proved last week that’s he’s just like every coach who has come before him during the Bills’ playoff drought. Conservative thinking in a sickness in the NFL, and McDermott has the bug. EDGE: Even.

Prediction: Bills 20, Dolphins 16

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