Dolphins vs. Bills: Five things to watch

The Miami Dolphins (6-9) are officially out of the playoffs and have the opportunity to play spoiler against the Buffalo Bills (8-7), who need outside help to make the playoffs. The Bills will need two of three teams to win in Week 17.

  • Bengals over Ravens
  • Jaguars over Titans
  • Raiders over Chargers

If any two of the above mentioned games go in the Bills’ favor, the Bills will indeed make the playoffs, but the Dolphins could put all of the Bills playoff hopes to rest with a win over its divisional foe at Hard Rock Stadium.

Here are five things to watch when the Dolphins take on the Bills:

 

1.) Young wide receivers

The Dolphins have seen glimpses of big-play ability from second-year wide receiver Jakeem Grant and coaches are hopeful that he could develop into a consistent contributor on offense. While Grant has received more snaps on offense, Leonte Carroo has not gotten the playing time; Carroo has just seven receptions for 69 yards in his second season. Look for the Dolphins to give Carroo a few opportunities in the final game of the season.

 

2.) Playing time for David Fales

Miami has a quarterback problem on its hands and it is clear that the team will look to add another quarterback in the offseason. Jay Cutler likely won’t be back with Ryan Tannehill returning from injury and the Dolphins want to see if Fales is a serviceable back-up for Tannehill. Thirty-three-year-old Matt Moore will also be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and it would behoove Miami to see what each of their quarterbacks are capable of with live reps.

 

3.) Strong finish for Kenyan Drake

The Dolphins prefer a two-running back system but Kenyan Drake has looked every bit the part of a feature running back in recent weeks. Miami is excited about Drake’s progress and want to see him finish on a high note. The Dolphins’ second-year running back has a knack for making explosive plays in the run game as well as in the passing game. Drake will get mismatches on linebackers this week that the Dolphins failed to exploit in their first match-up against the Bills.

 

4.) Outside contain is key

The Dolphins’ defensive ends must be disciplined on Sunday and refrain from simply flying up field in an attempt to put pressure on Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor burned the Dolphins for 42 yards and a touchdown on six carries in Week 15 and it will be critical for Miami to keep him from getting out on the perimeter and extending plays with his legs.

 

5.) LeSean McCoy out of the backfield

Dolphins’ coaches have stated that they prefer seeing Kiko Alonso matched up with opposing tight ends and running backs, but the Dolphins must change personnel more consistently in order to give the defense a shot to contain McCoy. McCoy took advantage of mismatches Dolphins presented to him to the tune of 76 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. The Dolphins will need to go with lighter personnel packages in order to stop McCoy from making an impact out of the backfield.

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Brandon Howard joined the Sports Talk Florida team to cover the Miami Dolphins in April 2017 and will work diligently to provide daily Dolphins content and give accurate analysis of the roster, coaching and front office. Last season, Howard was the curator of content for Miami Dolphins Wire/ USA Today while aggregating high school sports results in Broward and Palm Beach counties for the Sun Sentinel. Prior to moving to South Florida Howard developed NFL content for Pro Player Insiders while covering the Cleveland Browns from 2014-2015. Howard, a Columbus, Ohio native graduated from West Virginia in 2004 in Athletic Coaching and Education. He also was a scholarship track and field athlete and walk-on football player. Howard was the 2003 Big East Long and IC4A long jump Champion and was a provisional national qualifier in the event. He also maintained his status as a member of the Athletic Director Academic Honor Roll during his time as a Mountaineer.