Everything you need to know, plus what I’ll be watching for Sunday when the Buffalo Bills close out the 2018 season against the Miami Dolphins.
TV: CBS. Announcers: Beth Mowins (play by play), Steve Beuerlein (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, 61-47-1. Miami is 7-1 this season in games decided by eight points or less, with their only loss coming to Indianapolis in Week 12. That means the Dolphins are good at pulling out close games, but getting blown out in their losses.
Bills injury report: Out: WR Deonte Thompson (toe), LB Julian Stanford (ankle). Questionable: CB Ryan Lewis (concussion), RB Chris Ivory (shoulder).
Dolphins injury report: Doubtful: S T.J. McDonald (ankle). Questionable: LB Kiko Alonso (knee, hamstring), DE Andre Branch (knee), DE Ziggy Hood (hamstring), CB Xavien Howard (knee).
Point spread: The Bills are 4-point favorites at footballlocks.com.
Did you know? The last five times the Bills and Dolphins have met, the game has been decided by one score.
Next up: Free agency, the draft and a long wait until the start of the 2019 season.
Here are five things to watch against the Dolphins:
1. Kyle Williams’ goodbye. Kudos to whoever it was on the Bills who convinced Williams to go public Friday with his plan to retire. It would have been a shame if fans missed an opportunity to salute the 13-year veteran on a stellar playing career. The ovation for Williams should be deafening Sunday. If the Bills get down to the goal line, maybe they can even send him out with his second career rushing touchdown. The first one came in the season finale last year against the Dolphins – a moment no Bills fan will soon forget. The same should be true of the scene Sunday.
2. Can Josh Allen rebound? It was not a great showing for the Bills’ rookie quarterback last week in New England. Allen will be going against an opponent for the second time for the first time in his young professional career. Allen is the only player in the NFL to lead his team in both rushing and passing yards. With 45 rushing yards, he would break Tyrod Taylor’s single-season record of 580 rushing yards (set in 2016) by a quarterback. Allen can also match Jack Kemp’s single-season record of eight rushing touchdowns by a quarterback if he reaches the end zone twice.
3. Who else will be saying goodbye? The Bills have 10 pending unrestricted free agents. We know that one of them, Williams, won’t be back. The other players who could potentially be suiting up for the Bills for the final time are: Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, wide receiver Deonte Thompson (out with a toe injury), quarterback Derek Anderson, running back Taiwan Jones (on injured reserve), center Ryan Groy, guard John Miller, right tackle Jordan Mills, offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips.
4. Does the youth movement continue along the offensive line? As mentioned above, Miller and Mills could be done in Buffalo after Sunday. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get more of a look at second-year tackle Conor McDermott and rookie guard Ike Boettger against the Dolphins to get a better idea of whether they are legitimate candidates to start in 2019.
5. Does Lorenzo Alexander leave a lasting impression? With Williams retiring and Anderson a pending unrestricted free agent, Alexander might be the only one who returns in 2019 for his age-36 season. General Manager Brandon Beane said Friday that there is mutual interest in that happening. Alexander leads the team with 6.5 sacks this year. He's been asked to play an increased role since linebacker Matt Milano was hurt, and has responded to that challenge. He intercepted a Tom Brady pass in Week 16, and led the Bills with 14 tackles. Alexander got more leverage for a new contract with Williams' retirement announcement, especially if the Bills value his leadership as much as they say they do. Another strong performance against Miami would only strengthen Alexander's pursuit of a new deal.
Story topics: Chris Ivory/ Conor McDermott/ Deonte Thompson/ Derek Anderson/ Ike Boettger/ Jack Kemp/ Jeremiah Sirles/ John Miller/ Jordan Mills/ Jordan Phillips/ Josh Allen/ Julian Stanford/ Kyle Williams/ Lorenzo Alexander/ Ryan Groy/ Ryan Lewis/ Taiwan Jones