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The Bills are downplaying the significance of this game, but another loss would seriously hurt their playoff chances. Their opponents, the Miami Dolphins, have virtually no chance of making the playoffs, but they’ve started to play like a decent team and have been playing the role of spoiler the past two weeks.
The Bills are looking to avoid their third straight loss, while the Dolphins are looking to make it three straight wins since starting the season 0-7. Buffalo started out the season on a tear going 3-0, but have since gone 2-4 to drop into a tie for second place in the AFC East one game back of the New England Patriots.
The Bills are trying to catch the Patriots, but if they don’t, a wild card will be difficult with Baltimore and Cincinnati sitting at 6-3 and Tennessee at 5-4. If Buffalo is a playoff team, you couldn’t tell by their last game in which Dallas blew them out 44-7, scoring touchdowns on their first four drives.
“We will regroup and continue to work to get better,” coach Chan Gailey said. “But you have to go do it. Nobody’s going to give you anything in this league.” The recent troubles have stemmed from the offense’s lack of production. Through the first seven games, the Bills averaged 30.1 points, but have only scored 18 points and given the ball up 7 times in the past two games.
The defense has also struggled recently, surrendering 348 yards to the Jets and 433 yards last weekend to the Cowboys. ”We haven’t shown up two weeks in a row. It’s disheartening,” said Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has only completed 56.5 percent of his passes with two TDs and five INTs in two games since signing a $59 million, six-year contract.
The Dolphins have rebounded the past two games with a 31-3 victory over Kansas City two weeks ago and a 20-9 win over the Redskins. ”The first seven games we were kind of in disarray,” said Reggie Bush. ”We were trying to find our identity. The difference now is we’re playing 60 minutes and finishing at the end of games.”
Miami’s change has been their performance late in games. In their seven losses they were outscored 92-51 in the second half, but in their two wins have outscored their opponents 27-3. Reggie Bush is in the middle of his best three-game rushing stretch with 242 yards, and he will look to keep that up against a Bills defense that’s ranked 23rd in the league surrendering 125.4 yards per game.
“We’ve been worrying about one game at a time and not worrying about where we’re going to be at the end of the season, the division, if we can make the playoffs or not,” Bush said. Fred Jackson, who only had 36 yards in the last meeting between these two divisional rivals, comes into the game as the NFL’s leading rusher with 917 yards.
He is also second in yards from scrimmage per game with 145.4 yards. However he’s been unable to find the end zone in the past three games. He will have his work cut out for him against the Dolphins who are ranked 10th in the league in run defense only giving up 105.1 yards a game, and with the injury to Bills center Eric Wood, the running game could suffer.
“We know we’ve got a lot to prove. There’s still a lot of season left, and we have to go out and earn everything we get for the rest of the season,” Jackson said. “We know that, and it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.” Ryan Fitzpatrick will look to bounce back facing a Dolphins pass defense that is ranked 25th in the league giving up 256.3 yards per contest. Matt Moore will also be facing a defense that isn’t good against the pass. The Bills are ranked 27th giving up 261.4 yards a game.
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