GAME PREVIEW WEEK 16 2016
Christmas Can Wait, Miami Are Playing
Forget it is Christmas Eve, the Miami Dolphins are playing a very relevant game of football against the Buffalo Bills, a win in Buffalo and a loss for Denver and the Dolphins are in the play-offs without the worry of trying to beat New England the following week. The problem is Rex Ryan and the Bills are standing in their way and they themselves still have a very slim chance of making the play-offs, bear in mind that Miami haven't won in Buffalo since 2011 and you can understand the task they have in front of them. It all seems like doom and gloom but then this season has been anything but that and Adam Gase will be prepared for the game.
Even though the Dolphins are ailing the Bills are more banged up , we obviously won't be seeing Ryan Tannehill but it is likely Byron Maxwell and Jelani Jenkins will be out as well. The Bills however could be without tackles Cordy Glenn and Jordan Mills as well as LB Lerentee McCray. They had seven players seeing limited action in practice this week. Most notably DT Jerel Worthy and DT Kyle Williams on defense and Charles Clay and Sammy Watkins on offense. In the first match up LeSean McCoy didn't play a major part in the game because he wasn't 100% healthy and the Bills run game suffered because of it. Tyrod Taylor was their leading rusher that day, don't expect it this time around, the Bills have the number one rushing attack in the league and Rex Ryan will use it to it's full ability. Kiko Alonso and the Dolphins front are going to have a busy day, not only with McCoy coming out of the backfield but with him catching passes behind the line. The one thing that may play to the Dolphins advantage is if Watkins and Clay are limited because they will be able assign more bodies to McCoy.
Taylor is a slippery quarterback who can keep the chains moving, he won't set the world alight, he certainly didn't the last time. If you take away the 67 yard strike to Marquise Goodwin then he managed 154 yards total. That was week 7 and the Dolphins cornerbacks were establishing themselves, it probably won't be the same duo as Maxwell is dealing with an ankle injury but the secondary didn't miss a beat against the Jets. Xavien Howard was thrown into the fire, he was only going to be eased in but had to play pretty much the whole game, he came in and looked like he had never been away and certainly didn't play like a rookie, he wasn't flawless but he wasn't a liability. The secondary was a big concern going into the season but at the end it almost seems to be a strength and could be fine in 2017, which will be good because it will be one less hole to fill.
We are hoping there will be some holes for Jay Ajayi to run through but because of the humiliation that was served up last time, Ryan is going to make sure that it won't happen again. The back to back 200 yard games seem a long time ago now as Ajayi has been a key concern for opposing defense's. It hasn't helped that Mike Pouncey has been missing and that Miami has faced top ranked run stopping teams on a weekly basis. Ajayi is still running hard but there just doesn't seem to be many gaps for him to squeeze through, more often than not he is making minimal yardage and his 10+ yard runs have dried up totally. Thats not to say he isn't a threat because he will break a tackle if given the opportunity and that is what his isn't getting, somehow they need to find a way to get him some space.
That may come down to Matt Moore who had a great outing last week, but that was at the expense of the Jets pass defense which is struggling. The Bills are 8th best in the league so it won't be as easy. It was amazing to think that Moore only connected on 12 of 18 passes, but they went for 236 yards because of chunk plays. That is the danger that Moore brings, he is aggressive and will always take a shot downfield if the opportunity presents itself. Ryan will have to pick his poison, does he honour the run or keep secondary help back to stop the deep ball. Does he blitz thinking that Moore is old and rusty or hold back on the pressure. There wasn't any sign of rust last week, his deep ball to Kenny Stills was a thing of beauty hitting the receiver in stride for the score. The thing is it wasn't just his long ball that was good, the two short touchdown passes to Dion Sims in traffic and under pressure showed that the veteran still has composure even after all his time backing up Tannehill.
There is no getting away from the fact this is going to be a hard game because, first off it is against a division rival but second because of the Bills unpredictable head coach. Remember a few years ago at this time of year, Ryan was fighting for his job and had nothing to lose. He threw the play book at the Dolphins, we saw a whole bunch of plays that only a mad man would call, but on that day they worked. Hold on, is this ground hog day? There are rumours that Ryan needs to win out to keep his job, the Bills haven't in reality got much to play for so will we see the same sort of high risk wacky plays that were thrown at the Dolphins last time, we haven't got long to find out. Lets hope Vance Joseph has done his howe work and is expecting the unexpected. Miami needs this win more than Buffalo, lets hope the team plays with the urgency that is needed for the win. Go Dolphins!