A year ago, the Dolphins collapsed down the stretch by losing their final three games, but many fans pointed to their 31-14 embarrassing loss to the Bills in Week 12 as the game that killed their playoff push.
It’s a·few weeks later·in the year this time around, and the Dolphins’ playoff hopes are a little more bleak, but once again, the Bills have a great opportunity to play spoiler to their AFC East rival.
If you’ve paid attention to this Bills’ team ever since their bye week, they·have been·playing pretty solid football and have unanimously earned the respect of being a better team than their 3-10 record suggest.
Having said that, the Dolphins are the favorite for good reason, and they should keep their season alive for at least one more week with a win tomorrow if they can avoid the kind of mistakes that cost them two weeks ago against the Browns.
Run, Run, Run
I don’t think the game plan offensively has been this obvious all season long. Chad Henne is playing the worst football of his young career, the receiving core will continue to miss the presence of Brian Hartline, and the Bills have the league’s 32nd ranked run defense.
If that doesn’t scream run Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams all game long, maybe Dan Henning really has lost his mind. The Dolphins’ ground attack has yet to return to form, largely because of the struggling interior offensive line, but I think we saw some positive signs last week against the Jets.
They averaged well below the four yards-per-carry benchmark last week, but Ronnie and Ricky combining for 89 yards against the league’s third best run defense is certainly something to build off of.
The R&R Express’ glory days are a thing of the past, but as long as the Dolphins’ remain disciplined and committed to the run, this running game is going to begin to have some much needed success. It may serve as only fool’s gold, but I see Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams looking like their old selves for one day tomorrow afternoon.
Protect the football
Two weeks ago against the Browns, we saw firsthand what can happen when a superior team turns the football over. No disrespect to Cleveland, a win is a win, but let’s be honest, it was clear who the better football team was that day.
The Dolphins were dominate on defense and moved the ball enough to win the game on offense, but three Chad Henne interceptions later and the Dolphins had themselves another home loss.
At the beginning of the year, we all called for Chad Henne to come out of his shell a bit and for this offense to be less conservative. With how dominate this defense is playing now, how poor Chad Henne had been, and how productive the running game projects to be, it may be time to return to Henne’s afraid to make a mistake ways.
If the Dolphins can protect the football and run it consistently, the defense should be able to carry them the rest of the way. Sure, Henne is going to have to make some plays here and there to keep drives alive and to remain somewhat balanced offensively, but priority number one should be protecting the football.
No time for a setback on defense
With how dominate this defense has been in recent weeks, the future of this football team is suddenly starting to look a little more promising. What a difference a week could make, though, if the defense takes a big step in the wrong direction against an injury depleted Bills’ offense.
With no Lee Evans, the Dolphins’ biggest responsibilities will be shutting down receiver Steve Johnson and running back Fred Jackson. Johnson has quickly emerged the Bills’ go-to receiver as he is narrowing in on the 1,000 yard mark and has already contributed nine touchdowns.
Jackson on the other hand, has historically been a pain in the Dolphins’ side, but with the way this run defense has been coming together lately, I personally don’t see him continuing that trend.
Still though, consistency is what separates the good defenses from the truly elite. And although we’ve seen about three straight weeks of dominate defensive football, Mike Nolan’s unit still has a lot to prove.