Here are five things to know about the Miami Dolphins (6-7, third in AFC East) ahead of their trip to New Era Field next week.
1. Last game: How about that? The Dolphins, 11-point underdogs against the Patriots on Monday Night Football, pulled off an 27-20 upset that dropped New England to 10-3 and prevented them from clinching their ninth straight AFC East title. Patriots QB Tom Brady was off his game, throwing two interceptions and accumulating just 233 yards while tight end Rob Gronkowski was suspended for his dirty hit on Bills' corner Tre'Davious White. Brady was outplayed by Miami's Jay Cutler, who threw for three touchdowns, including two to Jarvis Landry. Beating the Patriots will certainly be a confidence boost for the Dolphins before they head to WNY on a short week, owning a two-game winning streak since Cutler returned from injury. They outgained the Patriots 362-248.
2. They have dangerous receivers: The Dolphins may not have a highly regarded offense, but they boast a strong, young receiving corps. Top receiver Jarvis Landry (age 25) has 88 receptions, tied for second in the league, and Kenny Stills (25) is coming on strong with a team-best 751 yards on 50 receptions (15.0 yards per reception). Their presence has overshadowed 2015 first-round pick DeVante Parker (24), who is dangerous but has been to limited to 454 yards while missing three games with an ankle injury. The Dolphins’ prominent use of three-receiver sets will test the Bills’ cornerbacks.
3. Analytics sites haven't been high them: A 6-7 record may not signify a great team, but it also doesn’t signal one that’s truly terrible. Analytic website have tended to disagree. The Dolphins entered Week 13 ranked dead last in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) metric, which scores team’s performance on each play against a league baseline, and they only moved up one spot with their win over the Broncos, who subsequently fell to last (beating the Patriots, though, will likely bump the Dolphins up when this week's rankings come out). The site ranked Miami’s offense 29th and its defense 27th entering Monday. Pro Football Focus jumped the Dolphins from 30th to 26th after the Broncos win. The Bills (7-6) still have playoff hopes alive, and the Dolphins are a team they should beat (as long as they have a legitimate quarterback healthy).
4. No more Ajayi: Running back Jay Ajayi tormented the Bills last season, rushing for 214 and 206 yards in two games against Buffalo. The second game was the Christmas Eve meltdown that ended up being Rex Ryan’s final game in Buffalo. But Ajayi no longer plays for the Dolphins: They traded him to the Eagles just before the trade deadline, getting only a fourth-round pick in return. Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams have paced the Dolphins’ backfield since, though Williams has been out recently with a shoulder injury. On the season, the Dolphins are only averaging 84.7 rushing yards per game, which was the fourth lowest in the league entering Sunday.
5. McCoy can reach milestone vs. Kiko: Bills running back LeSean McCoy will enter the game 39 rushing yards shy of 10,000 for his career, and he can reach the milestone against Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso, the player whom the Eagles traded McCoy for straight up in March 2015. McCoy has not thought highly of Alonso since. He told The News earlier this year that his initial reaction to the trade was, “Who the hell is Kiko Alonso?” The two players had an Instagram skirmish in April after Alonso posted a picture of him tackling McCoy. “Boy ya dad wish u was as good as me," McCoy replied in the comments.