The Miami Dolphins might have started the season with tanking in mind. However, after two wins in a row, Brian Flores and company are looking for a third.
The Buffalo Bills have been one of the surprise success stories in the AFC this season. Despite a 19-16 loss in Cleveland last week, the Bills hold the fifth seed in the playoff race.
The Week 11 matchup between division rivals carries considerable significance for both clubs. The Dolphins are building a culture and evaluating a roster that includes 17 undrafted free agents and 14 waiver claims. The Bills are fighting for playoff position.
Keys to Victory for the Miami Dolphins
1. Establish the Run
The Miami Dolphins have been the worst rushing team in the NFL this season. The team ranks 32nd in total rushing yards (580) and in average-yards-per-carry (3.1). Miami did record a season-high 109 rushing yards versus the Bills in Week 7.
Even in their two wins, the Dolphins have struggled to run the ball. They’ve relied more on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and an opportunistic defense. Miami has gained 120 yards on 50 carries over the last two weeks.
The Dolphins will need to establish the run against Buffalo because the Bills feature one of the league’s top secondaries. Buffalo ranks 3rd in passing-yards-per-game (188.7). They’re led by All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White, who’s had an incredible season.
Buffalo sports a top pass defense, but they’re 21st against the run. Since the Week 7 win over the Dolphins, Buffalo has allowed 492 yards rushing.
The Dolphins will lean on second-year back Kalen Ballage, who averages 2.1 yards-per-carry. Undrafted rookie free agent Patrick Laird, who has a total of four yards on two carries in his career, should see some time as well.
2. Stop the Run
One of the most mystifying parts of Buffalo’s Week 10 loss to the Browns was how they abandoned the run. Devin Singletary seemed to do whatever he wanted and ran for 42 yards on eight carries. Future Hall-of-Famer Frank Gore continues to pace the Bills with 501 total yards with two touchdowns.
For the Dolphins, it’s been the unlikely emergence of the secondary that has helped them win their last two games. Three interceptions of Brian Hoyer in Week 10 propelled Miami to the victory. So they’ll look to force Bills quarterback Josh Allen to the air to win this one.
The Dolphins are No. 30 in the league against the run, allowing 146.1 yards-per-game. They’re facing a Buffalo team that averages 124.3 yards-per-game, but the production comes from both the running backs and Allen.
Buffalo’s passing offense is far more anemic. They’re 24th with 212.6 passing-yards-per-game. Josh Allen has thrown for 1,919 pass yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
3. Win the Turnover Battle
The Miami Dolphins surrendered 22 fourth-quarter points the last time they played the Buffalo Bills. It was a diving interception by Tre’Davious White that helped spark his team in Week 7.
Over the last two weeks, the Dolphins have generated four takeaways. Before that, Miami managed just three takeaways in Weeks 1-8. During both victories this season, the Dolphins also won the turnover battle.
These last two wins have muted the “Tank for Tua” narrative resounding in Miami. During their winning streak, the Miami Dolphins have enjoyed consistent quarterback play and stable offensive line play.
They enter their Week 11 matchup looking for that third win in a row and do so with confidence. Miami played the Bills close in Buffalo in Week 7. After a late touchdown pulled them to within three points, the Dolphins surrendered a fluke on-side-kick-return touchdown.
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