Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills: Stevie Johnson, Reggie Bush and Keys to Game
The Miami Dolphins are heading to Orchard Park to take on the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, after both teams are coming off embarrassing losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers, respectively. The Dolphins fired their head coach, Tony Sparano, on Monday following the loss.
The Bills played the Dolphins just weeks ago, getting absolutely manhandled in a game that caused starting running back, Fred Jackson, and cornerback, Terrence McGee, to be sent to the Reserve/Injured list.
Both teams have no hopes at making a late playoff run; however, they each would like a chance to spoil the chances of other franchises. Throughout the slideshow, I'll examine some key matchups, both personal and positional, and determine who has the edge in this AFC East showdown.
Bills Pass Offense vs. Dolphins Pass Defense
Harry How/Getty Images
Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off of his worst outing of the season, after completing 13 of 34 passes while throwing two interceptions against the San Diego Chargers. This week, he needs to be more precise with his passes and make better decisions with the ball.
Luckily, he will be facing the league's 25th ranked pass defense that has allowed an average of 244.2 yards per game through the air. Fitzpatrick has eclipsed the 3,000 yard mark for the second year in a row, and has thrown 20 touchdowns with 16 costly interceptions.
The Dolphins secondary is led by safety, Yeremiah Bell, who leads the team in tackles with 86. Cornerbacks Sean Smith and Vontae Davis will be lined up with Stevie Johnson and the recently promoted Brad Smith, along with David Nelson.
Stevie leads the Bills with 63 catches for 790 yards and six touchdowns; however, he suffered an injury in last week's game that could cause issues for an already depleted Bills' receiving corps that may be without tight end Scott Chandler for a second straight week.
Dolphins Pass Offense vs. Bills Pass Defense
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore was knocked out of Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles with an apparent concussion, but is expected to make the start against the Bills. If not, J.P Losman will start against the team that drafted him.
The Dolphins have an anemic passing attack that averages just 193.5 yards per game through the air, ranking them 25th in the league. The Bills secondary is in the middle of the pack, ranked 15th in the league, allowing 238.8 yards per game.
With Bills cornerback Terrence McGee on injured reserve, and rookie Aaron Williams banged up, they will use a rotation of Leodis McKelvin, Drayton Florence and rookie seventh-round draft pick, Justin Rogers.
On paper, that doesn't bode well when facing a receiver of the status of Brandon Marshall, who has 67 catches for 937 yards and four touchdowns on the year. The Bills have struggled against tight ends all season, allowing 62 receptions for 771 yards and nine touchdowns to opposing tight ends, and Anthony Fasano is on fire.
Fasano has just 26 receptions for 412 yards on the year, but has managed to find the end zone four times.
Bills Rush Offense vs. Dolphins Rush Defense
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The Buffalo Bills will have a difficult time running the ball on Sunday without Fred Jackson in the backfield. C.J. Spiller will get his third straight start against a Dolphins defense that is ranked third in the National Football League in rush yards allowed with 89.9 yards allowed per game.
That doesn't bode well for a running back who hasn't eclipsed 100 yards in any game of his two-year career.
The Dolphins linebackers, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, have been playing with fire, combining for almost 200 tackles on the year.
Dolphins Rush Offense vs. Bills Rush Defense
Marc Serota/Getty Images
The Bills have one of the worst rush defenses in the league, allowing over 130 yards per game on the ground, and that trend will most likely continue against Dolphins running back, Reggie Bush, who has had a resurgence in recent weeks. Rookie Daniel Thomas is also a change of pace back that will keep the Bills defense on their toes.
Bush has carried the ball 169 times for 770 yards and five touchdowns, and is still a threat out of the backfield, catching 40 passes for 264 yards and a score, while Thomas has 140 carries for 508 yards.
Bills rookie nose tackle Marcell Dareus needs to hold his own at the point of attack and let Nick Barnett, the team's leading tackler (105), to make stops in the backfield.
Bush can make people miss due to his agility, and it will be tough for the Bills injury-decimated defense to contain him for four quarters.