3 Keys: Bills vs. Dolphins


Here we go again. This storied rivalry takes center-stage once again under the national spotlight, but this time, instead of Dan Marino and Jim Kelly, it’s Kyle Orton and Ryan Tannehill. Okay, not as appealing, but it’s still Bills and Dolphins and there is a lot on the line when these two teams meet on Thursday night. With both AFC East rivals sitting at 5-4, the winner of this matchup in South Beach finds themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt sitting at 6-4. Meanwhile, the loser of this matchup will most likely be out at 5-5. Here are the three things to watch for in this crucial matchup between two historic rivals:

Earth to Watkins? 

Oct 26, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) runs after a catch during the third quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Buffalo Bills defeated New York Jets 43-23. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Now, before I get yelled at, Kyle Orton missed a couple throws to Watkins yesterday, especially that fourth-and-10 play in which there seemed to be some miscommunication. On fourth down in a situation like that, after a timeout, that is inexcusable. Back to the actual key, and Watkins has been the key to winning. In games that he has over 100 yards receiving, Buffalo is 3-0. Even when he goes for over 30 yards, Buffalo is still undefeated at 5-0. Last week against Kansas City was the first game in which Watkins had been targeted 10 times or more and lost. Watkins is obviously the most explosive playmaker on the team and probably in the division. Last time the Bills played Miami, he went for eight catches and 117 yards with a touchdown in a game that Buffalo probably should’ve won by more in a 29-10 Week 2 victory. There are not a lot of mistakes coming from the quarterback position since the Bills made the switch from EJ Manuel to Orton, but there have been a few missed throws. Now this offense has been known to go stagnant, and whether that has to do with Orton or coaching, it needs to be fixed. It can get fixed by involving and actually getting the ball to your biggest playmaker. Just look at the Jets game, and that in a nutshell is what he’s capable of.

Can Buffalo finally show up in the big game?

By my count, there have been two big games this season, and both ended in Buffalo losses. The first of which came against New England, when the defense imploded against Tom Brady and company and lost 37-22 at home. This came after a Bills victory, a big one I might add, in Detroit against one of, if not the best, team in the NFC, coming back from a 14-point deficit to win the game. The second game was obviously last week, in a game that felt like a playoff game at the Ralph. The Bills made too many mistakes (drops, Bryce Brown fumble out of the end zone, Leodis McKelvin fumble on the punt, just to name a few) to win the game. The last big game that Buffalo one, again in my opinion, was in 2011 when they came back from 21 points down to New England to win on Rian Lindell’s field goal 34-31. The biggest laugher of them all was in 2004 when they lost to Pittsburgh’s backups in a 29-24 game that would’ve sent the Bills to the playoffs with a win. Either way, if the Bills want to make the playoffs they need to start winning the big game, and it needs to start happening this week in Miami.

Which offensive line is going to show up?

Kyle Orton has been sacked at least once in every game. Now they only allowed two against the Lions and one against the Chiefs, two of the best defensive lines they will face all season. But they also allowed six to the Vikings, five to New England, and four to the Jets. The last time Buffalo played Miami, in week 2, Cameron Wake and company got to EJ Manuel not once, and they also allowed 113 yards on the ground. So, clearly this offensive line has had two identities against various teams this season, and have played down to their competition. If the offensive line against the Chiefs and Dolphins show up, this offense could be clicking and they can put up some points against Miami. If Wake and his wrecking crew can get to Orton and cause havoc, it would be a long day for the Bills.


I think this will be the first time in a long time that the Bills show up for the big game, and they continue their dominance of the Dolphins as of late. I think the offenses are a little sloppy because of the short week, but the Bills pull away late and move up to 6-4 on the year. More importantly, they will Squish The Fish!

Final. 17. 59. 27. 16