The Buffalo Bills head into South Florida looking to continue their dominance over the NFL in Week 3 and over the Miami Dolphins for the past four years. Having beaten Miami seven straight times, the Bills are looking to move to 3-0 on the year, but they are meeting a Dolphins team much different than the one they remember from the last few seasons. This year’s Dolphins team has already shown they can score points, they can be resilient even when they are down, and they are looking to prove themselves against the best teams in the league.
Miami will get that opportunity this weekend. To get an idea of exactly what the Dolphins will be facing as the Bills come into Hard Rock Stadium, I turned to Matt Warren from Buffalo Rumblings.
Do the Bills have a weakness? Seriously, is there anything the Dolphins can exploit into success?
Right now, the Bills are dealing with a bunch of injuries in the secondary (and really all over their defense). They’re down to two rookies at boundary cornerback and their All-Pro safeties are both nicked up. [Note: Safety Micah Hyde was placed on injured reserve following my discussion with Warren] If the offensive line can hold up against the rebuilt and dominating pass rush, Tua could be able to find room to work on offense. As for attacking the Bills’ monstrous passing game, generating pressure up the middle with the front four is the way to go. Force Allen to make decisions in 2 seconds or less with a guy in his face.
Assuming he is going to be the responsibility of Xavien Howard, how are the Bills using Stefon Diggs to such success early this year?
For starters, they moved him into the slot on opening night which helped him find space and they’d just take the 7 yards on each play. When he was against Jalen Ramsey, the Rams tried to keep it one-on-one and Diggs was too effective. In Week 2, he was going up against inexperienced CBs and just schooling them. Even when he was bracketed, they looked his way and he made them pay. He’s playing on a different plane right now. If they put Howard on him and bracket him, they might have a chance to stop him, but it will obviously leave other folks available. That’s what the Chiefs tried in the playoffs and it worked against Diggs, but Gabe Davis had 4 touchdown catches as a result.
The Bills defense has been dominant through two games and ranks either first or second in total yards allowed, passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, and points allowed. They are slacking some on sacks, ranking just fifth in the league. What is working so well for the Bills? Is it a blitz happy defense? Are they able to create pressure with just the base defense? Are they shutting down receivers, or is it the pass rush? What should we expect from the defense?
It’s the opposite of a blitz-heavy attack. They didn’t send an extra man at Matt Stafford even one single time. It was entirely generated by the front four. Von Miller is a Hall of Famer, but A.J. Epenesa has really stepped up, Greg Rousseau is in his second season along with Boogie Basham and they’ve grown considerably. Ed Oliver missed Week 2, but he’s a disruptive force on the inside, as well, and the rest of the DTs demand attention. Couple that rejuvenated pass rush with the best safety tandem in the NFL, and the young CBs have played well enough to get by. If Micah Hyde is out this week, it could be very different. In the run game, the defensive line was in the backfield all day to stop Derrick Henry and they tackle incredibly effectively at all levels.
We obviously know the big names on the Bills, but who will Dolphins fans not know that has been a standout on offense early this year? On defense?
Receivers Jamison Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie in the slot have put up solid numbers but aren’t household names. On defense, slot CB Taron Johnson has been the glue of the secondary and he plays nearly 100% of the snaps with the Bills in base nickel. DT Jordan Phillips has been having an amazing start to his season and always has a little extra juice for Miami.
The opening line for this game was set at 4.5 points for the Bills by DraftKings Sportsbook. It has now moved to 5.5 points. [Note: The game line moved back to 4.5 points after the discussion.] Do you think this line is right or would you have expected it to be even larger?
I think it’s right. I’m really worried about the Bills defense right now. Three defenders didn’t practice on Wednesday while three more were limited, and that doesn’t even include Tre’Davious White on injured reserve. I’m not predicting a Bills loss or anything, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the game come down to which team was on offense at the end of the game. As impressive as Tua has been this season, I’m going to take Josh Allen 100 times out of 100 in those game situations.