By Abraham Gutierrez
Led by their incomparable head coach, Rex Ryan, the Buffalo Bills invade South Florida for a marquee matchup with the Miami Dolphins in Week 7 of the 2016 NFL season. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida will be the site for this clash of bitter AFC East rivals. Opening kickoff is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET and it will be broadcast live on CBS.
The last time these teams met dates back to Nov. 8, 2015 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. In front of a sold-out crowd, the running back duo of LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams (now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers) torched Miami’s defense, combining for 222 rushing yards on 25 carries and three scores as the Bills rolled to a 33-17 victory.
Buffalo was also successful in its most recent trip to the Sunshine State, and thus, comes in riding a two-game win streak in their head-to-head series. Led by the stellar play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor (277 yards, 3 TDs), the visiting Bills handed the Dolphins a humiliating 41-14 loss that played a significant role in Joe Philbin’s fate as head coach.
It’s going to be interesting to see what type of mental warfare Ryan will employ as Adam Gase gets his introduction to one of the most heated rivalries in professional football. Miami will look to build off its biggest win of the season last week against the Steelers (30-15), while the Bills will try and extend their win streak to five games and three in a row over the Dolphins.
Bills Season Record: 4-2-0
After a lackluster 0-2 start, the Bills have hit their stride and come into Week 7 firing on all cylinders. Thus, Ryan’s bunch appears to be the biggest threat to the (5-1) New England Patriots in the AFC East divisional race. Buffalo is 2-1 at home and on the road, 1-1 against divisional opponents, 1-2 versus intraconference foes and unbeaten (3-0) when facing NFC teams.
Bills On Offense
With Ryan’s signature ground-and-pound approach, the Bills’ four-game win streak is currently tied for second best in the National Football League. With six weeks in the books, this team features the highest-rushing offense in football, averaging 166.3 yards per game.
Buffalo also ranks fifth in the points per game (27) category, but has struggled to get their passing attack going (171.0, NFL rank: 31st), and their total-yard average (337.3, NFL rank: 23rd) is also among the league’s worst.
Bills On Defense
It’s no secret that Rex Ryan is a defensive-minded coach who loves to blitz and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. However, this year’s Bills are just about middle-of-the-pack when it comes to NFL rankings.
Heading into Week 7, Buffalo’s “D” hangs its hat on its ability to keep opponents off the scoreboard, allowing just 17.2 points per game, which is good enough for fifth place in the NFL. As far as the other three major categories go, this team is 12th in total yards (345.2), 14th in passing yards (242.0) and 15th in rushing yards surrendered (103.2).
Bills Players To Watch
On the offensive side of the football, the Bills player to watch is none other than four-time Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy. The Pittsburgh product is showing no signs of slowing down as he enters his eighth NFL season. McCoy is currently tied for most rushing touchdowns (6) and is second in the NFL in rushing yards (587), trailing only Cowboys rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott (703).
The 28-year-old from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is coming off a monster performance, rushing for 140 yards on 19 carries and three scores in last week’s 45-16 rout of the San Francisco 49ers. McCoy has also been a reliable option out of the backfield for Taylor, registering 21 receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown through the air.
On the opposite side of the football, the Dolphins will have to contend with a two-headed monster: Outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and inside linebacker Zach Brown. Alexander leads the NFL in sacks (8.0) to go along with 30 tackles and three forced fumbles. Meanwhile, Brown is second in the league in tackles (67) – trailing Carolina’s Luke Kuechly (68) by a single tackle – and has also registered two sacks as well as a pair of forced fumbles.
Bills Vs. Dolphins (NFL Week 7) Outlook
The Dolphins are currently listed as two-and-a-half-point (+2½) underdogs at home versus the road-favored Bills (-2½) in Week 7 of the 2016 NFL season. The OVER/UNDER for this contest is set at a combined total 44½ points, and straight-up money lines for this contest go as follows: Buffalo Bills (-120) vs. Miami Dolphins (+100).