Predicting the outcome

The Dolphins were happy to get a victory last weekend at San Francisco, but they also know they beat a very bad football team. A victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Pro Player Stadium clearly would be a lot more significant, but it also will be a lot more difficult to achieve. And, rest assured, the Dolphins won't win if they play they way they did against the 49ers. Here's how we think the game will unfold.

The Dolphins lost at Buffalo earlier this season in a game that featured two teams that were winless at the time. While the Dolphins pretty much appear to be the same team they were back in early October, the Bills have improved considerably.

A big reason has been the play of running back Willis McGahee, who made his first NFL start against the Dolphins and has gone on to record a few 100-yard games.

McGahee is coming off a 116-yard, four-touchdown performance in the Bills' dominating 38-9 victory at Seattle, Buffalo's first road victory of the season.

The Bills probably dug themselves too deep a hole to get back in playoff contention, but that might not keep them from closing out the season strongly.

McGahee is a punishing runner, and he should get a heavy workload Sunday as he returns to Miami, where he starred in high school and in college.

The Dolphins run defense has rebounded the last two weeks after a couple of bad performances, but this will be a difficult test. We can see McGahee getting close to 100 yards, but it probably will take him a good 25-30 carries to get that amount.

The key for the Dolphins defense is the passing game. Drew Bledsoe, whom the Dolphins have tormented through the years, had an effective game in the wind at Buffalo in early October because the Dolphins couldn't generate enough pressure on him.

That can't happen again, and it probably won't.

Don't be surprised to see the Dolphins coming up with a pick or two (or three) in this game.

The problem we see here is the Dolphins offense is going to have a tough time against a Buffalo team that has been great all year, except for the two games against New England.

A.J. Feeley will see his share of blitzes again because the Dolphins can't stop it. He figures to get sacked three or four times in the game, but what he needs to do more than anything is not throw the costly interception.

With Sammy Morris probably out because of a rib injury and Travis Minor still hampered by a bad ankle, it's difficult to imagine the Dolphins doing much on the ground in this game.

And that's just not a good recipe for success. The Dolphins had problems all day on offense at Buffalo, and we're afraid we're in for a repeat performance.

The defense probably will keep the Dolphins in the game most of the way, but it again will be too little offense.

The call: Bills 17, Dolphins 13.

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