BFR: How have teams tried to block Miami's potent pass rush this season? Does anything work?
Alain Poupart: Can't say I've seen opponents do anything out of the ordinary to stop the Dolphins pass rush, and it's actually been spotty. New England, for example, stuck rookie tackle Sebastian Vollmer one-on-one with Joey Porter most of the game and Vollmer pretty much made Porter a non-factor. There's good balance in the pass rush, though, with four guys having 4.5 or 5.5 sacks — Porter, Jason Taylor, Randy Starks and Cameron Wake. There isn't that guy having a monster year, though, the way Porter did last year.
BFR: If you could point to one reason Miami has climbed out of a 0-3 hole to 5-5, what would it be?
Poupart: Coach Tony Sparano was asked that very question Wednesday and, not surprisingly for a coach, he mentioned the mental toughness of his players. I think it had more to do with the fact the Dolphins were a solid team all along. If you look at their 0-3 start, it's not like they were blown out by the Falcons, Colts or Chargers. Their offense was horrible against Atlanta but their defense kept them in the game; they really should have beaten the Colts in that Monday night game; and a few big plays and the season-ending injury sustained by Chad Pennington was the difference in the San Diego game. As Bill Parcells and Sparano like to say, the Dolphins are what their record says they are. They're solid, but won't be anything better than that until they beat a good team. So far the Dolphins have beaten the Bills (3-7), Jets (4-6) twice, Bucs (1-9) and Panthers (4-6), while losing to the Falcons (5-5), Colts (10-0), Chargers (7-3), Saints (10-0) and Patriots (7-3). That says it all right there.
BFR: Who is an under-the-radar player that could make an impact Sunday?
Poupart: I'll give you one guy on offense and one guy on defense. On offense, that has to be wide receiver Davone Bess. He had a mini-slump about a month ago but has been playing lights out since then. He's a poor man's version of Wes Welker in that he always seems to get open and has reliable hands. His drawback is a lack of top-end speed, which is why he's a possession receiver. On defense I'll give you Cameron Wake, the former CFL star who has 4.5 sacks in limited time. The reason he's gotten limited playing time is because he doesn't have an all-around game yet at linebacker, but when it comes to rush the passer, it's easy to see how he got 39 sacks over the last two seasons in Canada.
BFR: What's your prediction and why?
Poupart: Coming off the victory over Carolina, I find it difficult to believe the Dolphins won't handle the Bills. Miami rushed for 250 yards in the first meeting between the teams, and while I don't expect the same number in this one, I still would expect Ricky Williams to get a third consecutive 100-yard game. On the flip side, I have a hard time seeing the Bills' mangled offensive line opening enough holes for the running game or protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick well enough for the Bills to score much. The only way the Bills can win this game, from where I sit, is if the weather conditions are really bad. That said, I'll say, Dolphins win it, 24-13.-------------------------------------------------
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