1. Free C.J.!
The Dolphins had not allowed a 100-yard rusher for 22 straight games – the longest such streak in the NFL – until they met up with Tennessee's Chris Johnson last Sunday. He gashed Miami for 126 yards and a touchdown in a blowout win for the Titans. In C.J. Spiller the Bills have the perfect player to clone that performance. Johnson's biggest runs against Miami came on cutback plays, in which the Titans' offensive line would flow one way and Johnson would burst through a hole on the back side. There isn't a player in the league who's more adept at making guys miss than Spiller, whose average of 4.3 yards after first contact leads the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Spiller will have to work for it. The Dolphins' run defense is fifth in the league, allowing 94.2 yards per game. With Fred Jackson out because of a concussion, Spiller should get at least 20 carries tonight.
2. Force a turnover, any turnover.
When Marcell Dareus tipped Tom Brady's pass into the air on the Patriots' first possession Sunday, it looked like the Bills would finally record a takeaway for the first time in three games. Only it didn't happen. The ball somehow eluded linebacker Bryan Scott. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin later had a would-be interception in his hands on the same drive, but also dropped it. For the season, Buffalo is minus -10 in turnover differential, which ranks 30th in the league. Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has mostly done a good job protecting the football, but had a streak of 107 straight passes thrown without an interception snapped against the Titans, on his way to three picks. Tannehill has particularly struggled on third down, with an AFC-worst passer rating of 52.6 and six of his nine interceptions.
3. Pick on Miami's third and fourth corners.
The Dolphins' third cornerback, Jimmy Wilson, is a converted safety forced into duty after Richard Marshall went on injured reserve last week. Wilson has been targeted 12 times in the past two games, according to Pro Football Focus, and given up 10 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown. R.J. Stanford, the team's fourth cornerback, has played in just 6 percent of Miami's defensive snaps. The Bills would do well to line up Donald Jones, who has a team-leading 19 targets over the past two weeks, in the slot to take advantage of those matchups.
4. Bottle up Reggie Bush.
The Dolphins' primary runner, Reggie Bush, has had success against the Bills in his career, averaging 5.6 yards per carry against Buffalo. But Bush was benched against Tennessee last week following a first-quarter fumble and Miami rushed for just 54 yards. Miami's rushing attack has slipped from second in the NFL after Week Two to 19th since then. If the Bills can persuade Dolphins coach Joe Philbin to bench Bush again, it will make Miami more one-dimensional. That in turn could open up opportunities for defensive end Mario Williams against Dolphins rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin, who has allowed 24 quarterback hurries.
5. Take advantage of the scheduling.
The NFL's expanded Thursday schedule has not been favorable to road teams. Through the first nine Thursday games, home teams are 6-3. Two of those losses by home teams were the lowly Panthers and Jaguars, who have combined for three wins this season. The short turnaround is quite a bit to ask for road teams when you consider the Dolphins will spend more time flying to Buffalo than they will practicing for Thursday night's game.
Outlook: This is no longer the slam dunk it was when the schedule first came out, but it's still a game the Bills can win. With a national TV audience watching and their season on the line, the thinking here is they will.
Prediction: Bills 27, Dolphins 20.