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Thursday Night Football Preview: Bills, Dolphins

The Buffalo Bills have had the Miami Dolphins number in recent memory. Buffalo has won three straight in the series and four out of the last five. If the Dolphins are to change that on Thursday night, they may have to do it without their starting running back.

Lamar Miller has been limited in practice all week with a sore shoulder and will probably be a game-time decision for Thursday’s game. If he cannot go or is limited, backup running back Damian Williams is expected to get the bulk of the carries. This will of course put more pressure on Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ passing game.

In Miami’s last four games, Tannehill has thrown for 968 yards, seven touchdowns and only two interceptions. While the passing game of the Dolphins has been performing well, their running game has also been a key part of their success offensively. Miami comes into Thursday’s game seventh in the NFL in rushing.

“We’re going to have to execute,” said Tannehill.  “You never know when that shot is going to happen, but, when it does happen, you have to hit it and run the ball consistently. It’s not going to be a home run every time, but I think we have to be able to get four yards a pop when we run the ball.”

Speaking of rushing yards, the Bills allowed 405 rushing yards during their first six games, but has given up 460 yards in the last three. On Sunday against the Chiefs, Buffalo gave up 127 yards in their 17-13 home loss to Kansas City.

The key to the game will be the play of the Dolphins’ offensive line. Miami lost their best lineman, left tackle Brenden Albert to a season-ending right knee injury against the Lions last Sunday. Because of the injury, rookie Ju’Wuan James will move from right to left tackle.

Veteran left guard Daryn Colledge could miss his third straight game with a back injury. After Albert’s injury, Dallas Thomas moved from left guard to right tackle, and Shelly Smith entered the game at left guard.

Buffalo’s defensive line could certainly pose a problem for the Miami offensive line.  The Bills defense leads the NFL in sacks with 34. In the Bills’ Week 2 matchup against the Dolphins, they sacked Tannehill four times.

Head coach Joe Philbin believes Thomas can handle his own against Mario Williams and the Bills defensive line.

“I think when you play offensive tackle in the National Football League, it seems like every team you play has outstanding players on the edge,” said Philbin. “It’s no different with the Buffalo Bills. They certainly do have that. Mario Williams is one of those guys. He’ll be ready, but it’s going to be a challenge.”

Bills’ quarterback Kyle Orton has thrown 10 touchdowns and three interceptions since replacing EJ Manuel as the starter, Buffalo is 3-2 in the games that Orton has started this season.

Rookie Sammy Watkins has had a strong season for the Bills. The receiver leads the team in catches (42), receiving yards (617) and touchdown receptions (five).

This is a critical game for both teams as they are both have a 5-4 record. Buffalo and Miami are also coming off of crushing defeats.

Buffalo and Miami are also two games behind New England. The Dolphins will travel to Denver in Week 12 and Buffalo will host the Jets in Week 12.

Last time the Bills and Dolphins met in Miami, the Bills were victorious 23-21 behind five field goals from Dan Carpenter. It should be a close game yet again in Sun Life Stadium as both teams are evenly matched.

Bills 24, Dolphins 21


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