Here are five things to know about the Miami Dolphins (6-9, third in AFC East) ahead of their Week 17 game with the Bills at Hard Rock Stadium.
1) Last game: The Dolphins lost in Kansas City, 29-13, while the Chiefs clinched the AFC West crown. The Dolphins gave up 404 yards of total offense and were shut out in the second half. Quarterback Jay Cutler didn’t throw any interceptions, but receivers Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills each lost a fumble while the Chiefs didn’t turn the ball over. The Dolphins went 0 for 8 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth down. Little-used receiver Jakeem Grant caught four passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, more than doubling his season total with third receiver DeVante Parker out.
2) Nothing left to play for: Entering Sunday, the Dolphins would be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with a loss or tie, or a Bills win or tie, or a Titans win or tie. But the Dolphins didn’t have to do any scoreboard watching, losing for themselves. They’ll enter Sunday’s game with nothing left to play for, besides spoiling the Bills’ hopes.
3) Is this the last of Jay Cutler? Cutler was expected to retire last offseason before Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending injury. The Dolphins gave Cutler 10 million reasons to give it another go, but his contract ends after the season. Could this be the final game of his NFL career? Cutler, a 12-year veteran, told Miami reporters this week that he hadn’t decided on his future plans. “That stuff will be a concern of mine when the season is over,” he said. Cutler entered Sunday with a 6-6 record as a starter, missing two games due to injury. His quarterback rating of 80.6 ranked 27th in the league, one spot below Joe Flacco, and his 14 interceptions were tied for the second-most, behind only winless Browns starter DeShone Kizer. The Dolphins are unlikely to bring Cutler back with Tannehill healthy. It remains to be seen if other teams will have interest in Cutler – or if Cutler and wife Kristin Cavallari, the actress and former “Laguna Beach” star, will have interest in them.
4) What’s the backfield looking like now? Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake has come on strong since the team traded top running back Jay Ajayi. Drake entered Sunday averaging 149 yards from scrimmage over his last three games, but a backfield share with Damien Williams looms as the latter returns from a shoulder injury that has given Drake the lion’s share of the carries. “We’d like to get Damien back healthy and split those touches,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen told Miami reporters earlier this month. Teams usually play to the hot hand, but taking touches away from Drake to give Williams more action in the finale could help the Bills.
5) How are the Bills in hot weather? The News reported earlier this month that playing in cold weather has surprisingly not seemed to help the Bills play better at home – they have virtually the same record all-time when the temperature is below 40 degrees than when it is above 40 in Western New York. How do the Bills do in hot weather? The Weather Channel’s long-range forecast is calling for a high temperature of 79 degrees next Sunday in Miami. The Bills are 27-34-1 all-time (.444) in games at 75 degrees or above, per Pro Football Reference data. Only eight of those games have come at home, with the Bills going 4-4. They’re 14-20-1 (.414) in those temperatures at Miami.