REGULAR SEASON FINALE

The Dolphins are definitely in the playoffs after last week's victory over Atlanta. What is not known, however, is what seed Miami will be, and this game against Buffalo will go a long way in determining that.<P>If Miami beats Buffalo, it is guaranteed at least one home playoff game. If Miami wins and New England loses in its game at Carolina, Miami takes the AFC East crown for the second straight year and is also provided with that elusive first-round bye Miami has been chasing for years.

But let's not jump the gun. Despite its record, Buffalo is still a competitive team that will come into Pro Player with the attitude of a spoiler and a team with nothing to lose.

Just ask the New York Jets if it's wise to overlook the Bills.

What follows is a quick look at Sunday's game.

WHO: Miami Dolphins (10-5) vs. Buffalo Bills (3-12)

WHERE: Pro Player Stadium; Miami, Fla.

KICKOFF TIME: 4:15 p.m. ET

TELEVISION: CBS

LINE: Miami by 6.

COACHES: Buffalo — Gregg Williams (1st year with Buffalo) Miami — Dave Wannstedt (2nd year with Miami)

SERIES RECORD: The Dolphins hold the edge here 46-28-1 and have won the last three meetings, Miami's longest winning streak against the Bills since the mid-1980s.

LAST MEETING: Miami barely showed up in this game until the start of the fourth quarter, during which they scored 24 points to rally to a 34-27 victory at Ralph Wilson Stadium in November. The Dolphins tied the game with an Olindo Mare 39-yard field goal with 1:11 left in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Patrick Surtain recovered a Buffalo fumble and Jay Fiedler marched the troops downfield to throw the winning 32-yard touchdown strike to Chris Chambers with 48 seconds left.

INJURIES: Dolphins — S Shawn Wooden (ankles) is doubtful; WR Oronde Gadsden (hamstring), DT Jermaine Haley (calf); RB J.J. Johnson (calf), FB Rob Konrad (ribs), WR James McKnight (face, throat) are questionable; WR Chris Chambers (ankle), QB Jay Fiedler (elbow), QB Ray Lucas (back), S Brock Marion (knee), C Tim Ruddy (knee), CB Patrick Surtain (finger), LB Zach Thomas (neck, shoulder) are probable.

Buffalo — QB Rob Johnson (shoulder), G Jerry Ostroski (knee), DT Shawn Price (knee), LB Kenyatta Wright (shoulder) are out; RB Ron Edwards (neck), RB Travis Henry (knee), FS Travares Tillman (knee), DT Pat Williams (leg) are questionable; S Raion Hill (neck) is probable.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

Dolphins cornerbacks vs Buffalo WR Eric Moulds — Moulds is generally considered to be one of the top receivers in the game and had six catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns against Miami in the last meeting. Miami must do a better job of containing him this time.

Dolphins OT Spencer Folau vs Bills DE Aaron Schobel — Schobel is leading Buffalo in sacks this year, which is not that much of a surprise considering he was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 when he was playing for TCU. Folau will have his hands full.

Dolphins DE Lorenzo Bromell vs Bills OT Jonas Jennings — Bromell had two sacks in the last game against Buffalo and was pretty active last week against Atlanta. Look for him to pressure QB Alex Van Pelt.

WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL: The Dolphins offense sputtered last week to begin the game against Atlanta but settled down in the second quarter. Miami will look to get off to a better start this week and get the home crowd into the game. Look for the continued involvement of Travis Minor after the impact he had last week. Buffalo's defense is relatively weak and the Dolphins offense should be able to throw downfield.

WHEN THE BILLS HAVE THE BALL: Buffalo's offense is playing well behind Alex Van Pelt and has a big playmaker in Moulds, who will want the ball often. Buffalo will test the Dolphins with a mix of Moulds and the running game, which has been relatively incosistent lately but still has the ability to gain yardage.

BOTTOM LINE: Both teams have motivation for this game. The Dolphins are looking to improve their playoff positioning, while the Bills are looking to end the season on a high note in what has been an otherwise disappointing year. It is unlikely that Miami will overlook this 3-12 team, though, especially after the Bills beat the Jets last week, and should be able to outlast them in the end.


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