Share this article

print logo

Pregame primer: 5 things to watch when Bills host Dolphins

It's a de facto elimination game for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

A 9-7 record will give either team a fighting chance at earning a playoff spot. The Bills could give the Dolphins their eighth loss, while a Buffalo loss would drop them to 7-7. With a looming visit to New England, however, a Buffalo loss would feel like the end of their chances.

Here are all the details you need for the game, plus five things we'll be watching for:

• TV: CBS. Announcers: Beth Mowins (play by play), Jay Feely (color analyst).

• Radio: Bills Radio Network. Buffalo-WGR 550 AM; Toronto-Fan 590 AM; Rochester-WCMF 96.5 FM and WROC 950 AM; Syracuse-WTKW 99.5 FM and WTKV 105.5 FM. Announcers: John Murphy (play by play), Mark Kelso (color analyst).

• Series history: Dolphins lead, 59-42-1. The two teams have rotated sweeping the season series the last two years, with the Bills doing it in 2015 and Miami getting them back last season.

• Bills injury report: Out: G John Miller (ankle), QB Nathan Peterman (concussion), LT Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle). Questionable: WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee). Dolphins injury report: Out: G Jermon Bushrod (foot), S Michael Thomas (knee), RB Damien Williams (shoulder, illness). Doubtful: QB Matt Moore (foot), CB Cordrea Tankersley (ankle, shoulder). Questionable: DE Andre Branch (knee), CB Xavien Howard (illness), DT Jordan Phillips (ankle)

• Point spread: The Bills are 3.5-point favorites at footballlocks.com

• Did you know? The Bills and the Colts combined for 97 rushing attempts in their Week 14 matchup, which is highest combined total in Bills franchise history.

• Next up: The Bills close out the season with a pair of road games. First up is a trip to New England on Christmas Eve.

Here are five things to watch against the Dolphins:

1. Can Tyrod Taylor do it again against Miami? The Bills' quarterback played the best game of his career last year on Christmas Eve against the Dolphins, going 26 of 39 for 329 yards and three touchdowns in a crushing 34-31 loss. His reward for that performance was a seat on the bench in the season finale. The scenario is different this time. Taylor has come back from being benched earlier in the season, and the Bills need him to play his best football over the final three weeks of the season if the team has any chance of reaching the playoffs. Health doesn't appear like it will be much of an issue, as Taylor practiced fully all week.

2. Can Shady complete his 10K chase? Bills running back LeSean McCoy is just 39 yards away from a huge career milestone of 10,000 rushing yards. He'll become just the 30th player in NFL history to reach the milestone. If McCoy doesn't get there, it's going to be a huge problem, because Buffalo's offense is at its best when the running game can give the team an early lead. That will be imperative in the effort to keep the Dolphins' superb pass rushers in check. McCoy is averaging 96.6 rushing yards per game in all games at New Era Field, which is the highest per game average at home in franchise history.

3. Can the Bills slow down Kenyan Drake? The former third-round pick has been one of the hottest running backs in the NFL over the past two weeks. He's as much of a threat out of the backfield as a receiver as he is a runner, with 234 yards rushing and 200 receiving in the past two games. The Bills will need Kyle Williams to dig deep in what could be his final game, and hope that rookie linebacker Matt Milano can keep up his strong play as they try to slow Drake.

4. Can Charles Clay step up? The Bills' tight end hasn't reached the end zone since Week 3 and has just one 100-yard receiving game this season, which came in Week 4 against Atlanta. Since coming back from a three-game absence for a knee injury, he has 14 catches for 131 yards in five games. In four games against his former team, Clay has topped 80 yards twice and scored three touchdowns. The Dolphins rank 29th in the NFL in defending the tight end position, according to analytics website Football Outsiders.

5. Will Kelvin really be ready? Watching practice this week, Kelvin Benjamin wasn't moving around that great on an injured right knee. Coach Sean McDermott on Friday said he felt good about Benjamin's chances of playing, but there is some doubt as to how much he'll be able to give the Bills. If Benjamin can't get through it, rookie Zay Jones and veteran Deonte Thompson are likely to get most of the snaps at receiver.

Story topics: / / / / / / / / / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment