The Miami Dolphins finish the 2019 edition of their annual home-and-home series against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. After losing 31-21 last month in Buffalo, the Dolphins welcome the Bills to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium this weekend as they look to turn their back-to-back wins into a three-game winning streak.
The Bills are coming into the game looking to reestablish themselves as a player in the AFC playoff picture. After a loss last week to the Cleveland Browns, the Bills are holding on to the first Wildcard position in the AFC, but they are not as securely in that position as they once were. Can they use the Dolphins as the catalyst to a second post-season appearance in three years?
The Dolphins will need some big performances all around the team on Sunday to make that sure that does not happen. We highlight some of those needed performances:
Kalen Ballage, running back - The Bills, for as good as their defense is, are struggling against the run right now, and teams are taking advantage of it. The Dolphins need Ballage, who began the year as the starter, seemingly fell to third on the depth chart, and is now back to the starter after Kenyan Drake’s trade and a four-game suspension to Mark Walton, to have a huge impact on this game.
Reshad Jones, safety - The Dolphins have been without Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones more often this year than they have had him on the field. The secondary played extremely well last week, recording three interceptions and frustrating the Indianapolis Colts all game. Jones, who has been dealing with a broken rib, seems like he is ready to return to the field, and Miami could use him. Having Jones able to cheat up and assist against the run will be a big addition to the Miami defense.
Mike Gesicki, tight end - Gesicki is showing he can have big games and break out for the offense, but last week it felt like he disappeared. After a six-reception, 95-yard performance against the New York Jets, the second-year tight end only caught three passes for 28 yards. Without Preston Williams to alleviate some of the coverage on DeVante Parker, the Dolphins need Gesicki to step up and be a threat in the middle of the field, as well as an outlet for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick when the pass rush gets close.
Josh Allen, quarterback, Bills - Typically, opposing players do not make the list, as we focus on the Dolphins players who need to have good games. The exception here is because, in three games against the Dolphins, Allen has been ridiculous. He has seven passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, completes 60 percent of his passes, and has run for 262 yards. The Dolphins should have lost to the Bills in Miami last year as Allen somehow found a wide-open Charles Clay at the goal line, but the former Dolphins tight end dropped the pass and ended any comeback hopes for Buffalo. If Allen gets off to a hot start - and if Miami cannot contain him on designed and scramble runs - it will be a long day for the Dolphins.
Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan, linebackers - I’ll group the two linebackers together because they have to be working in perfect concert this weekend. Baker is great at rushing the passer, while McMillan is great against the run. If they are on their game and communicating - something that should not be an issue for the college teammates - they should be able to pressure Allen, while containing him as well. The defensive line needs to do their job, but the two linebackers need to be able to get after Allen while not losing him for big gains.