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Dolphins vs Bills: EJ Manuel, Sammy Watkins, and CJ Spiller to lead Buffalo attack

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The Miami Dolphins face the Buffalo Bills this Sunday during the NFL's Week 2 slate of games. To get a better idea of what Miami will see when they face their AFC East rivals, I turned to Brian Galliford, the editor-in-chief of SB Nation's Buffalo Rumblings.

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Kevin Nogle, The Phinsider (KN): Go ahead and admit, after watching Jon Bon Jovi's bid for the Bills go down in a blaze of glory as he got bounce-d from the bidding, you are going to miss the puns. It wasn't always a bed of roses, but it did seem JBJ would be there for you, if you would just keep the faith. Hopefully, Terry Pegula will have something for the pain for Bills fans. Knowing the number one priority for Bills fans was to keep the team in Buffalo (and, something I am very happy is happening), what's the reaction to the news that Pegula is the man? Are any changes expected (in the next 100 years)? (Side note: I may now have the world record for most Bon Jovi puns in one question - 7.)

Brian Galliford, Buffalo Rumblings (BG):On the contrary: now that Bon Jovi is out of the picture, the puns are actually rather tolerable. And they will not go away; the Bills' fan base has a long memory.

The reaction is as you'd expect: the region, and those fans displaced from it, are overjoyed. The questions about the team's future in Buffalo have been answered, and now whenever a national columnist wants to trash the team, they'll need to come up with some new zingers to use; the tired "Toronto Bills" line isn't going to cut it anymore, nor are jokes about the senility of the front office. That combination of long-term security and fresh reading material has fans more excited than I've seen them in years.

KN: On to real football questions now, EJ Manuel had a solid day against the Chicago Bears last week, going 16-for-22 for 173 yards with a touchdown and an interception, earning himself a 91.7 passer rating. How has he looked this preseason? As a team dealing with the exact same question with their own young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, is Manuel ready to step up and be a franchise quarterback? Bonus question: How comfortable are you facing Miami without Dolphins killer Thad Lewis? I know it has to be a scary situation.

BG: Manuel looked below average in the preseason, and the first-team offense didn't score any touchdowns against first-team defenses in their five games. They, and Manuel especially, alleviated some of those concerns last week with a solid outing on the road, but let's be real: Chicago's defense isn't going to wind up being one of the league's best. Miami's might, so this will be a much better litmus test by which to evaluate Manuel's readiness to be the guy, even if he'll be playing with the best home-field advantage Bills fans can offer him this weekend.

KN: The trade up for Sammy Watkins made news during the Draft, and looked as though it was the right call in training camp and the preseason. He played nearly every snap last week against the Bears, catching three passes on four targets for 31 yards, all while battling a ribs injury. What can you tell us about the injury, Watkins' health overall, and how much Dolphins fans should expect to see of the rookie?

BG: I can't tell you much about the nature of the injury; the Bills have become rather tight-lipped about these things. From what we've been able to glean, it's an issue that is healing slowly, and they're simply trying to manage the pain until it heals. In the meantime, he's going to continue to play the vast majority of the team's snaps; his presence alters the way short-zone defenders play in coverage, which opens up throwing lanes for the team's other two highly competent receivers, Robert Woods and Mike Williams.

KN: How has the defense worked through the loss of Kiko Alonso? Is Nigel Bradham, who had to sit out one game for a 2013 marijuana arrest, ready to step up and fill the Alonso role? How do the Bills make corrections to the defense to not allow another 400-yards of offense allowed, as they did last week against the Bears

BG: Alonso is an every-down linebacker, an asset in every down and distance scenario, and one of the better young prospects at his position in the NFL. There aren't many teams that have two of those, and the Bills certainly aren't one of them. That said, they do have talent there, with Brandon Spikes the biggest name. Bradham will play the weak-side role; he had an excellent preseason, and while he's not the most instinctive player in coverage, he is an absolutely fantastic athlete.

As for the 400 yards of offense allowed: that was a byproduct of playing the Bears, who might end up with one of the four or five best passing offenses in the league this year. They are absolutely loaded on that side of the ball. No offense meant, but Miami's offense looks like a walk in the park compared to the Bears, though Miami certainly has some tape to work with if they want to expose some weaknesses in Buffalo's pass defense. And those do start at linebacker. (They also include cornerback Leodis McKelvin, who was terrible in Chicago.)

KN: The Bills offense is young, and does not seem to have a set identity yet. Are they a pass offense, getting Watkins, Robert Woods, and Mike Williams involved? Are they a running team behind C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson? How would you describe the offense, and where should Miami focus their defense this week to be able to slow down the Bills?

BG: I beg to differ: they have a very clear identity on offense. Buffalo led the NFL in rushing attempts per game last season, averaging 34 totes per contest and finishing second in the league in rushing yards per game. They ran the ball 33 times for 193 yards against the Bears, while Manuel attempted just 22 passes. Whether or not they're productive in that phase is irrelevant; they are going to log their carries. Case in point: in the Bills' first win over Miami last year, on the road, they carried the ball 30 times, with Miami holding them to just 90 yards. In the second game, in Week 16, the Bills went out and carried it another 51 times (for 203 yards), a figure only slightly elevated by the lopsided nature of that game. The Bills are a run-first offense, and they rely on their talented receivers and their green quarterback to make enough big plays in the passing game to get them over the top. Miami's first order of business will be to limit the effectiveness of Buffalo's run offense; do that, and the game is squarely on Manuel's shoulders, even though the rush attempts will still be there.

A big thank you to Brian for taking the time to give us a look at the Bills. We will catch up again later this season when the Bills head south to Miami.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $250,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 2's NFL games. It's only $10 to join and first place wins $25,000. Starts Sunday, September 14th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.