Buffalo Bills (4-4) at Miami Dolphins (0-8)
When you start examining an opposing team's offense, you have a tendency to look at their stats and make assumptions off them. If you did that, you would see the Bills rank 31st in the league in total offense and 27th in points scored, averaging just over 16 points per game. But that isn't exactly a fair assessment. If you look at their last 5 games, you'd see they are scoring over 21 points per game and gaining 320 yards of offense per game. So don't think for a second that this Bills offense will be a push-over because that's far from the truth.
The centerpiece of this Bills offense this season has been rookie running back Marshawn Lynch. I know I've been critical of Lynch, but he is a good back. I just don't think he's the 2nd best rookie so far this year (but this discussion is for another time and place). The facts are that Lynch is getting a lot of work, getting 22 carries per game so far this year. But if you've been watching the Bills since their bye week, you'd see that Lynch is getting even more involved in the offense. In those 3 games since their bye, Lynch has been getting over 25 carries per game and is averaging 4.1 yards per carry in that span. He's a back that can pound you up the middle or cut it outside with a good burst. Now the Bills are most successful when running the ball to the right side behind right tackle Langston Walker. Walker is 6'8, 360; a simply massive man. That means Matt Roth and Joey Porter are going to have a big part in how successful Miami is in stopping the run, especially with the absence of Zach Thomas. It's going to be quite the task to contain Lynch, as this defense hasn't been able to slow down any team's ground game. And consider this probably meaningless stat: in Lynch's brief career, the Bills are unbeaten (4-0) when he gets at least 21 carries.
The passing attack on Sunday is going to be led by J.P. Losman, who will start for the injured Trent Edwards. Edwards, you'll remember, replaced Losman after he went down with an injury and it's likely Edwards would be the starter if he wasn't suffering from a badly injured wrist. For Losman, 2007 was supposed to be his breakout year. Many thought this would be the year he became a legitimate NFL quarterback. However, like I thought would happen, Losman flopped out of the gate, throwing for just 251 yards in his first 2 games of 2007. But that does not mean Losman isn't dangerous. Since returning to the field 2 weeks ago against the Jets, Losman is 27 of 39 for 408 yards and 2 touchdowns while throwing just one interception. Of course, those 2 games were against the Jets and Bengals, so you shouldn't read too much into it. Against the Dolphins, however, Losman has been successful in his career. In 3 games, Losman has 507 yards and 7 touchdowns for a QB rating of 115.
What the Bills will likely try to do is draw in the safeties by pounding the ball with Lynch time and time again. Then, when the time is right, they will take their shots deep. One thing Losman is great at (yes, I said Losman is great at something) is throwing the deep ball to Lee Evans. I especially worry about the play-action fake because of the inexperience of safeties Cameron Worrell and Jason Allen. And Evans, in his young career, has been a Dolphins killer. In fact, if you leave out his first game against Miami (which was one of the first games of his career), Evans has ridiculous numbers against the Dolphins. In those 5 games, he has 378 yards on just 17 catches. Of those 17 catches, 6 are for touchdowns. In these games, Miami keeps Evans quiet for most of the game until he explodes for one or two killer big plays. It'll be up to Will Allen and one of the safeties to prevent this from happening. A good way to do that, though, would be to take Lynch out of the game and make Buffalo one-dimensional. If Lynch is effective early on, it's likely that we'll all be in for a long game.