Troubled Dolphins look to end six-game skid vs. Bills
In the 1970s, the Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills 20 consecutive times, owning their division rivals for the entire decade.
Now, the spikes are on the other feet as the Bills have defeated the Dolphins six consecutive times, including a 35-0 win on Sept. 19. That is the most lopsided Buffalo win in the 115-game series.
On Sunday, the Bills (4-2) will host the Dolphins (1-6). The game is set for Halloween, which is fitting because the potential for another blowout loss is scary for the Dolphins, who are 13-point underdogs.
The Dolphins have lost six straight games, which is tied with the Houston Texans for the longest skid in the AFC.
In addition, rumors are swirling that the Dolphins will dump quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in a trade for controversial Texans QB Deshaun Watson.
But with the trade deadline looming on Nov. 2, Dolphins coach Brian Flores has publicly backed Tagovailoa, Miami’s first-round pick in 2020.
“I respect and appreciate (Flores’) transparency,” Tagovailoa said. “He sits me down and tells me what’s going on. I hear (the rumors), but I’m not focused on that.”
Miami’s issues are not all on Tagovailoa, who missed three full games and a large part of another due to fractured ribs.
However, Miami ranks 29th in the NFL in scoring, 31st in pass-block win rate, 30th in rushing yards and 25th in passing yards.
Defensively, the Dolphins aren’t doing much better, ranking 31st in points allowed, 27th in sacks and 13th in takeaways.
Last year, when the Dolphins had a breakthrough 10-6 season, Miami finished first in the NFL in takeaways, fifth in fewest points allowed and 10th in defensive sacks.
Coincidentally, the Bills were the team to fracture Tagovailoa’s ribs as A.J. Epenesa beat right tackle Jesse Davis to get to the QB.
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, 25, is 6-1 in his starts against the Dolphins. In those six consecutive wins, Allen has led the Bills to an average of 38.7 points per game.
The Bills, who are coming off a 34-31 road loss to the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 18, are not without their concerns.
For example, starting tight end Dawson Knox suffered a broken right hand at Tennessee.
“Huge shoutout to Dawson,” Allen said of his tight end.
Knox’s toughness, Allen said, “is why we love him.”
Until Knox returns, Buffalo will rely on tight end Tommy Sweeney, its seventh-round pick in 2019.
Besides the injury, the 34 points scored by Tennessee are the most allowed by Buffalo this season.
In addition, the Bills have had some red-zone problems on offense. The Bills lead the NFL in red-zone drives (29). But only 55.2 percent of those drives have resulted in touchdowns, which ranks just 26th in the NFL.
One of the main reasons for those problems is that Allen was blitzed on 36 percent of his plays last year and just 16 percent this season.
Translation: Team are playing more coverage, and they are guarding against Allen’s scrambles.
“When you stall out in the red zone, it’s never a good thing,” Allen said. “You can’t get red-zone opportunities and not convert.”
Added Bills coach Sean McDermott, “We’re leaving potential points off the board.”
Besides Knox, the Bills are relatively healthy.
Miami, though, listed nine players as limited in practice this week, including starting cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, safety Brandon Jones, linebackers Elandon Roberts and Jerome Baker, defensive end Jaelan Phillips and wide receiver DeVante Parker.
The biggest key may be Parker, who has led the Dolphins with 1,995 total receiving yards the past two seasons. But he has missed the past three games due to shoulder and hamstring injuries.
–Field Level Media