It will take the Miami Dolphins 15 weeks of the regular season before they see their AFC East rival Buffalo Bills for the first time in 2017. The home-and-home series against the Bills starts with the Dolphins at the Bills in the Week 15 matchup, then concludes two weeks later when Buffalo heads to South Florida for the season finale for both clubs.
Buffalo comes into the season with rookie head coach Sean McDermott replacing, who was fired after the Dolphins completed the season sweep of the Bills last year in Week 16. The Bills finished the 2016 season 7-9 and in third place in the division.
To get a closer look at the only NFL team to play in the state of New York, the guys at Buffalo Rumblings helped us out:
Notable free agent additions
LB Gerald Hodges, S Micah Hyde, WR Andre Holmes, FB Patrick DiMarco, WR Philly Brown, DL Ryan Davis, CB Shareece Wright
Notable free agent departures
WR Robert Woods, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, WR Justin Hunter
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies
CB Tre’Davious White (Round 1): Had a reliable four-year career at LSU playing everywhere across the formation. Has some experiencing returning kicks but will almost assuredly be asked to be the CB2 to Ronald Darby as CB1.
WR Zay Jones (Round 2): His WR coach from East Carolina holds the same position for the Bills. Jones is likely to see the second-most targets in Buffalo’s receiver group this season.
OL Dion Dawkins (Round 2): Like they did for Jones, the Bills traded up to get Dawkins, a four-year contributor for an upstart Temple program. He’s a superb athlete, and will battle for the starting right tackle job this summer.
LB Matt Milano: (Round 5): Milano enters a crowded linebacker room in Buffalo (Preston Brown, Reggie Ragland, Gerald Hodges, Lorenzo Alexander) but fits the “smaller but faster” mold of linebacker Sean McDermott likes. He was super-productive at Boston College (29.5 TFLs the past two seasons) and could sneak onto the field in some sub-packages.
Biggest offseason addition
S Micah Hyde: The former Packers standout will be a swiss-army knife in McDermott’s defense this season, most notably as the playmaker in “big nickel” packages. He’ll play safety and slot cornerback along with his role as the extra defender in the box on occasion.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp
Sammy Watkins’ health: Like Julian Edelman and Dez Bryant before him, Watkins had his second surgery on his injured foot earlier this offseason and is said to be very close to 100%. When he’s on the field, he and Tyrod Taylor have been a dynamic pairing. When Watkins hasn’t been on the field, Buffalo’s aerial attack has lacked explosiveness and efficiency.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp
The linebacker battle: Well it may not be enormously under-the-radar, with Lorenzo Alexander almost a lock for the SLB role near the line of scrimmage, there are two spots at middle linebacker and weakside linebacker and three linebackers looking to grab those positions. Reggie Ragland didn’t play a down in 2016 thanks to an ACL tear but should be ready for camp. Preston Brown is coming off a down year, and Gerald Hodges has quietly pieced together a few effective seasons early in his NFL career.
Notable injuries heading into training camp
Beyond Watkins’ foot… Cordy Glenn’s ankle. Possibly will keep the left tackle off the field for the first few days of camp.
Miami Dolphins 2017 season schedule:
vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Setpember 10, 1pm
at Los Angeles Chargers
September 17, 4:05pm
at New York Jets
September 24, 1pm
vs. New Orleans Saints (London)
October 1, 9:30am
vs. Tennessee Titans
October 8, 1pm
at Atlanta Falcons
October 15, 1pm
vs. New York Jets
October 22, 1pm
at Baltimore Ravens
October 26, 8:25pm (TNF)
vs. Oakland Raiders
November 5, 8:30pm (SNF)
at Carolina Panthers
November 13, 8:30pm (MNF)
at New England Patriots
November 26, 1pm
vs. Denver Broncos
December 3, 1pm
vs. New England Patriots
December 11, 8:30pm (MNF)
at Buffalo Bills
December 17, 1pm
at Kansas City Chiefs
December 24, 1pm
vs. Buffalo Bills
December 31, 1pm