1. Get after Tannehill. The Miami offense line has been a train wreck this season. The Dolphins can’t run the ball and can’t protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has been sacked 24 times in five games, which is tied for second-most in the NFL. The Bills have to take advantage, and it starts with defensive end Mario Williams. He’ll be frequently matched up against Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo, who has allowed five sacks in the first five games. Williams has shown the ability to take over games, especially against inferior opponents. Clabo fits that bill. According to Pro Football Focus, Williams has had more success when rushing from the left side of the defensive formation – registering six sacks, two quarterback hits and 14 hurries in 138 snaps.
2. Stop the run. The Dolphins have attempted the fewest rushes of any team in the NFL – and it’s not entirely clear why. Lamar Miller has averaged 4.2 yards per carry, but despite that Miami has run only 95 times, just over 30 percent of their offensive plays. Miami is 29th in the NFL in rushing, averaging 69.6 yards per game. If the Bills can stop the run on early downs and put Miami in obvious passing situations, it will allow players like Williams and Jerry Hughes to pin their ears back in pursuit of Tannehill.
3. Get Scott Chandler going. One area of the field the Bills didn’t work much last week with quarterback Thad Lewis was the middle. There could be some opportunities to do that today, especially with tight end Scott Chandler, who has been productive when utilized. Miami has allowed opposing tight ends to come down with 24 catches for 354 yards and five touchdowns.
4. Win the time of possession. There aren’t many teams worse than the Bills in time of possession, but Miami is one of them.. If the Bills can convert third downs and hold the ball on offense, it will go a long way toward fatiguing the strength of the Dolphins’ defense, which is the interior with Paul Soliai and Randy Starks.
5. Beat the heat. Bills coach Doug Marrone cranked up the thermostat inside the team’s fieldhouse this week in an effort to replicate today’s conditions, when the high is expected to reach the upper 80s. The Bills’ conditioning will be put to the test. Earlier this season, safety Da’Norris Searcy had to come out of the game because of cramping. The Bills’ trainers will have to make sure the players stay properly hydrated to prevent that from happening today. It’s not as if the hot weather provides much of a home-field advantage for the Fins. Miami is just 11-15 at home since 2010. Bills can send fair-weather fans home early by taking early lead.
Outlook: The Bills have been within a touchdown in the fourth quarter of every game they’ve played. They’ve also scored at least 20 points in every game this season. They’ve shown the ability to stick in games, and today should be no different.
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Bills 20