DATE: Sunday, Nov. 20
TIME: 1 p.m. ET
SITE: Sun Life Stadium
SERIES RECORD: Miami leads 54-39-1 (including playoffs)
AT MIAMI: Dolphins lead 30-16-1
AT BUFFALO: Teams tied 23-23
AT TORONTO: Dolphins lead 1-0
LAST MEETING: 2010 at Miami; Bills 17, Dolphins 14
SERIES TREND: The teams split the season series each of the last two years, with each team winning on the road in 2010. Last year’s two meetings were close (15-10, 17-14), but the previous five were decided by nine points or more.
SERIES HIGHLIGHT: The Dolphins began the 2009 season with three losses, but they got into the victory column in decisive fashion when Buffalo came to Miami on Oct. 4. Led by rookie cornerback
BILLS’ RECORD: 5-4
LAST GAME: Lost at Dallas, 44-7
OVERVIEW: The Bills were one of the biggest surprises in the NFL in the early going when they raced to a 4-1 start, but Buffalo is coming off lopsided losses to the Jets and Cowboys and injuries — starting center Eric Wood reportedly was lost for the season in the Dallas game — are starting to mount.
THE BILLS’ STRENGTH ON OFFENSE: The answer here isn’t “what,” but rather “who.” And that’s Fred Jackson, perhaps the most complete back in the NFL these days. Jackson is averaging more than 100 yards rushing in 2011 and he also has 34 catches for 392 yards. He’s the guy the Dolphins have to contain.
THE BILLS’ QUESTION MARK ON OFFENSE: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was the spark behind Buffalo’s great start and he was rewarded with a new contract. But after producing only one passer rating below 88.8 in the first seven games (and nothing below 75.5), Fitzpatrick has been at 51.9 and 46.6 the last two games when he threw a combined five picks. THE BILLS’ STRENGTH ON DEFENSE: There is a lot of give to the Buffalo defense, but few teams are better at taking the ball away. Buffalo already has 15 interceptions this season — only Green Bay has more.
THE BILLS’ QUESTION MARK ON DEFENSE: As mentioned before, the Bills give up a lot of yards, both on the ground and through the air. Opponents are averaging 4.6 yards per rushing attempt and the pass rush also has been mediocre — Buffalo did have 10 sacks in the Toronto game against Washington, but has only five in its other eight games.
THE BILLS’ STRENGTH ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Buffalo has a tremendous one-two kicking combination in punter Brian Moorman (49.7 average) and place kicker Rian Lindell (13-for-15 on field goals). The only question here is whether Lindell will play Sunday after he missed the Dallas game because of a shoulder injury.
THE BILLS’ QUESTION MARK ON SPECIAL TEAMS: The Bills have big-name returners in former first-round pick C.J. Spiller and former Jets dual threat Brad Smith, but there just haven’t been any long returns so far this season.