Five Keys To Beating Buffalo

Posted Oct 19, 2013

Finsiders analyst John Congemi gives his thoughts on what the Dolphins must do to beat the Bills this weekend.

The Miami Dolphins will try to snap a two game losing streak as they open up division play against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. The Dolphins should be well rested and ready to go coming off of there bye week, and in my opinion, will have to play their best game of the season to defeat the AFC rivals. Here are some of the keys to victory that I will be focusing that will hopefully lead to a 4-2 record!

1) Stop The Run - It's no secret what first year head coach Doug Marrone would like to do verses the Miami defense, and that's control the time of possession with the running game. The Bills have a one-two punch at running back with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, and the Buffalo running game ranks third in the entire league, averaging 148.8 yards per contest. Spiller may not be 100 percent, but still has the ability to make people miss in space. He has game-breaking speed and the Dolphins must not let him control the tempo on the ground. Jackson is a dual-threat that gains yards after first contact, and can also beat you catching the football in the passing game. He leads the Bills with four rushing touchdowns (4.6 yards per carry) and also tops the charts with 21 receptions out of the backfield. Getting multiple defenders around the football is paramount this week for the Dolphins defense.

2) Pass Protection - This one is very simple for the Dolphins on offense. Keeping quarterback Ryan Tannehill clean on Sunday is a must and is the biggest key to success. The Bills like to use multiple fronts and looks to confuse opposing offenses and get match ups for defensive end Mario Williams. He leads the Bills defense with eight sacks and will line up anywhere along the line of scrimmage. Also, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (four sacks) is a huge presence in the middle and can be a disruptive force. The Dolphins must be able to create some balance in the offense to keep the pressure at a minimum on Sunday to have success.

3) Limit The Explosive Plays - The Dolphins defense must not allow the chunk yardage plays on defense or on special teams this Sunday. When your facing a quarterback making his second career start in Thaddeus Lewis, you want to make him earn every yard and go 70 or 80 yards the hard way. The Miami defense has allowed seven plays of 40 yards or more through five games and those are the type of plays the Dolphins must avoid on Sunday. It would also be a welcomed surprise to see defensive end Cam Wake at 100 percent and get after the young quarterback, or at least make him feel very uncomfortable!

4) Fast Start - Head Coach Joe Philbin has stressed during the bye week that the Dolphins need to start faster on both sides of the football. That means limiting the three and outs on offense. Against the Ravens, Miami's offense couldn't stay on the field in the first half going three and out in four of the first five possessions! Scoring points early and forcing Buffalo to play from behind is how the Dolphins will win this week, and a defensive turnover surely will help the cause.

5) Mix It Up - When offenses can run the football, it makes it much easier for the quarterback and the offensive line to do their job. That sounds easy but it's the simple truth. It allows the Dolphins to use the play action game to there advantage. Moving the pocket is also something that I'll be looking for this week, allowing Ryan Tannehill to use his ability outside the pocket where he throws extremely well on the run. If running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas can generate positive yards on the ground (Buffalo is 28th in the NFL against the run giving up 124.2 yards per game) or in the screen game, that should take some of the pressure off of the big fellas up front, and hopefully lead to different launch points for Tannehill to execute the passing game.
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