Jay Skurski's Bills-Dolphins Scouting Report: Kenyan Drake a big challenge - The Buffalo News

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Jay Skurski's Bills-Dolphins Scouting Report: Kenyan Drake a big challenge

When the Bills run: The Dolphins did a nice job against LeSean McCoy when these teams met in Week 15, holding him to 50 yards on 20 carries. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, however, gained 42 yards on just six carries, while Travaris Cadet added 24 yards on four attempts. With Cadet now out of the lineup, the Bills might turn to Marcus Murphy, who was promoted from the practice squad. That would be good news for fans who are ready to throw their remote control at the TV every time Mike Tolbert touches the ball. The Dolphins have allowed eight teams to rush for at least 100 yards in a game this season. Defensive tackle Ndamokung Suh, who was voted Miami's team MVP this week, had three tackles for loss in Week 15, but Bills guard Vlad Ducasse – who spent plenty of time one on one against Suh – graded out well in the coaching staff's review of the game. EDGE: Bills. 

When the Bills pass: Taylor has been at his best against Miami, and that continued in Week 15 when he went 17 of 29 for 224 yards and two total touchdowns. Tight end Charles Clay had 68 passing yards in that game. The Bills need to get him matched up against old friend Kiko Alonso, who has given up 779 yards in pass coverage to opposing tight ends, according to the analytics website Pro Football Focus. That’s the most in league by 179 yards. Getting Kelvin Benjamin involved as much as the Bills did in Week 16 was a good sign. He deserves credit for pushing through a painful knee injury that might require surgery after the season. The Dolphins are tied with the Bills with 26 sacks, which ranks tied for 26th in the NFL. Outside of Cam Wake, their pass rush is lackluster. EDGE: Bills.

When the Dolphins run: Only one team in the NFL throws the ball more than Miami. That’s the New York Giants, at 63.62 percent of the time, just a tick ahead of Miami’s 63.58. Because of that, and the fact they’ve trailed in their last two games, it’s been tough to get Kenyan Drake in a rhythm. Still, he’s averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry in his last four games, and is building a strong case to be Miami’s every-down back in 2018. Drake torched the Bills for 53 rushing yards in the first quarter two weeks ago, but got just seven carries the rest of the game. Miami should stick with Drake, especially against a Buffalo run defense that has sunk to 30th in the league against the run, allowing 126.7 yards per game. EDGE: Dolphins. 

When the Dolphins pass: Jay Cutler will start, but there’s no guarantee he’ll finish the game. The Dolphins could opt to give David Fales some snaps seeing as that it is a meaningless game for them. Cutler made $10 million this season and “rewarded” the Dolphins with a 68.4 quarterback rating that is ahead of only Cleveland rookie Deshone Kizer in the AFC. Cutler’s 14 interceptions are third most in the NFL. Miami receiver Jarvis Landry leads the NFL with 103 catches. The only other time a Dolphins receiver has done that for a season is 1998, when O.J. McDuffie had 90. It’s looking good for the Bills to get cornerback E.J. Gaines back after he suffered a knee injury in the first meeting between the teams. EDGE: Bills.

Special teams: Stephen Hauschka picked a bad time to have his worst kick with the Bills in Week 16 against New England. His 50-yard attempt in the fourth quarter against the Patriots never had a chance. Cornerback Lafayette Pitts had made a couple nice plays in coverage the past two games. The Dolphins’ Cody Parkey missed last week two, only the second time he’s done that this season. Miami punter Matt Haack is coming off a poor performance in Kansas City, averaging just 29.5 yards on two punts. Return specialists Jakeem Grant of Miami and Brandon Tate of Buffalo have both failed to provide any real big plays this season. EDGE: Bills.

Coaching: It’s been an eventful second season for Adam Gase in Miami. One of his assistant coaches got fired after a video surfaced of him snorting — ahem, a white, powdery substance – from his desk. Gase also said some of his players don’t study their playbook enough after a blowout loss to the Ravens. Why is that happening on his watch? The Dolphins also rank 31st in penalties, which partly falls on their head coach. Sean McDermott, meanwhile, will be second guessed on some of his decisions if the Bills miss the playoffs, but his first season should be viewed as a success. Even if the team finishes 8-8, that’s ahead of most preseason expectations. One big disappointment with McDermott has been how painfully conservative he’s been in big moments. The punt in overtime against the Colts and the field-goal attempt against the Patriots are classic examples of coaching not to lose. EDGE: Bills.

Prediction: Bills 25, Dolphins 18

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