Fresh off of their week six bye, the Buffalo Bills looked sharp and ready to go as the season progresses. On Sunday, Buffalo hosts their division rival, the 0-6 Miami Dolphins. Although this looks to be the easiest opponent the Bills have squared up against all season, Buffalo has to be careful not to drop this game.
Despite having a lot of elements leaning in their favor and opening as 17 point favorites according to ESPN, this game is like any other game. Let’s take a look at the things Buffalo needs to do against the Dolphins.
Take Advantage of Health
Coming out of the bye, Buffalo has almost a complete clean bill of health (pun intended). With only Matt Milano, Corey Thompson, and Taron Johnson listed as questionable and no players listed as out, Buffalo is the healthiest it has been since the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, Miami has one of the worst rosters in the league and they are really banged up. Center Daniel Kilgore, safety Reshad Jones, and defensive end Avery Moss will not dress against the Bills. Pro-Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard and return man Jakeem Grant are also listed as questionable.
To say Buffalo has the advantage in terms of health is an understatement. Buffalo needs to take advantage of the fact that they will be playing against several Miami back ups in this game.
After declaring Josh Rosen the starter for the remainder of the year, head coach Brian Flores seems to have changed his mind, switching back to Ryan Fitzpatrick after only three weeks of Rosen. Fitzpatrick, a former Bill, earned the nickname “FitzMagic” for his ability to come of the bench and light up opposing defenses. One year ago, Fitzpatrick threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions against the New Orleans Saints. Fitzpatrick is a solid quarterback but is wildly inconsistent, deeming him a back up for the remainder of his career.
Buffalo’s defense has to avoid letting Fitzpatrick get into a rhythm. Many Bills fans trust the defense but they need to be sharp on Sunday.
Don’t Let Up
Head coach Sean McDermott has developed a habit of easing off of the gas a little too early in games this season. Coming off of a game where they scored 16 unanswered points against the Washington Redskins, the Bills need to stay alert. Fortunately, Buffalo has a lot of solid play makers that can keep the wheels turning on offense.
Circling back to the defense, it would be excellent to see Buffalo capitalize on some bad throws. Forcing an early interception would completely disrupt Fitzpatrick’s rhythm. Once you intercept Fitzpatrick, more tend to follow.
Avoid Being The Laughing Stock
It has gone unsaid, but whoever loses to Miami first is a rotten egg. Buffalo needs to avoid all of the bad publicity that would surly follow a loss to the worst team in the league. Buffalo needs this win to keep pace with New England for the division title and for pride’s sake.
Integration of Pieces
We got a little taste of rookie running back Devin Singletary but we have not seen him since week two. Luckily, Frank Gore was up to the task when asked to carry the load, acting as the team’s bell-cow. With Singletary finally returning from his hamstring injury, Gore can take a sigh of relief as his workloads gets cut in half.
Sunday will also likely be the debut of new tight end Tyler Kroft. Buffalo signed Kroft to replace Charles Clay in the offseason but Kroft has been preoccupied. Kroft has certainly lived up to his “injury-prone” reputation thus far. In OTA’s Kroft broke his foot, sidelining him for four months. He looked to be set for a week three come back against his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals, but tweaked his ankle in practice. Now nearly at the halfway point of the season, Buffalo gets their first taste of Kroft with an interesting twist. Kroft seemed to be set to be the starter for the Bills but with the emergence of rookie Dawson Knox, his role may different from what he expected.
This game should be fun as long as Buffalo sticks to their script. We will see how things turn out.