Game Preview: Miami at Buffalo

If all things break right this weekend, the Dolphins will face New England next Sunday afternoon with a chance to take first place in the AFC East. But it has to start with the Dolphins winning at Buffalo this Sunday. Here's a breakdown of the Dolphins-Bills matchup.

WHO: Miami Dolphins (5-5) at Buffalo Bills (3-7)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

SITE: Ralph Wilson Stadium

SURFACE: AstroPlay

TV: CBS (Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker)

PREDICTION: Dolphins 27-16

KEYS TO THE GAME: This one will be determined by the ground games. Ricky Williams has had 10 days since his 119-yard outing against Carolina, and similar production would take significant pressure off first-year starting QB Chad Henne working against Buffalo's ballhawking secondary. And the Bills' run defense gives up 165.9 yards per game. Bills RB Marshawn Lynch (shoulder) has a chance to play, but even without him Buffalo will attempt to establish the run. The Bills' offensive line is woeful in pass protection and while QB Ryan Fitzpatrick did complete a 98-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens last Sunday, he lacks great arm strength to hurt teams in long passing downs.

FAST FACTS: The Dolphins have won the past three meetings by an average of 16.7 points. ... The Bills have been outscored 109-40 in the fourth quarter.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Miami Dolphins:

-- DE Lionel Dotson (ankle) was limited in practice all week but he has played sparingly in the base defense this season.

-- DE Kendall Langford, a vital cog in Miami's D-line rotation with 23 tackles and a sack, was excused from practice Thursday because his wife had a baby.

-- TE Anthony Fasano, in the midst of a season-long slump, is expected back after missing the last two games with a hip injury. Second-year tight end Joey Haynos, who has flourished in his absence, has two touchdown catches, tied for most on the team with running back Ricky Williams.

-- NT Paul Soliai has missed the last two games with an ankle injury but is expected back to replace injured nose tackle Jason Ferguson. It will be Soliai's second start this season.

-- Rookie QB Pat White didn't get on the field last week to run the 'Pat-Package,' mostly because of all the injuries to the offensive line. That should change Sunday against the Bills.

-- DE Ikaika Alama-Francis, who was signed Wednesday to replace released defensive end Matt Roth, played nose tackle at Hawaii, and should provide depth behind Soliai, Tony McDaniel and Randy Starks. There's very little chance that he will be activated Sunday until he learns the playbook and gets in football shape after not playing since his release from the Lions before the season started.

-- Rookie OL Andrew Hartline, who can play guard or center, was signed off the practice squad Wednesday, when he worked as the backup center to Joe Berger. He will provide depth on the nicked-up line that includes the uncertain status of center Jake Grove (ankle). Berger and backup Nate Garner were also dinged last week, but are available Sunday.

Buffalo Bills:

-- QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will start his second game in a row and fourth overall this season when the Bills host Miami on Sunday, has a 5-12-1 record as an NFL starter. On the year, he's completed 56 of 108 passes for 659 yards, three TDs and six interceptions.

-- RB Marshawn Lynch, who left last week's game against Jacksonville in the first half with a shoulder injury, has practiced fully this week and will be fine for Sunday's home game against Miami. That's not necessarily good news for the Bills' sputtering offense. Lynch has just 272 yards rushing and one TD and the coaching staff has struggled finding enough touches for him and Fred Jackson, who has been vastly more productive.

-- WR Lee Evans, who has had big games against Miami in the past, is the only Bill with a catch in all 10 games this season. He has 28 catches for 396 yards and five scores and is still looking for a breakout performance. That could come against a young Miami secondary.

-- WR/PR Roscoe Parrish, who had fallen out of favor with former head coach Dick Jauron, returned to the lineup last week after sitting four games. Parrish fielded two punts (he fair caught both) but made a mistake by fielding a punt inside his 5-yard line. He was tackled at the 2. Things worked out when Ryan Fitzpatrick hooked up with Terrell Owens on a record 98-yard TD bomb.

-- DT Marcus Stroud could miss his second start with a tender knee. The veteran has taken a lot of snaps this season and is showing the wear. His absence will hurt Buffalo's ability to stop Miami RB Ricky Williams, the AFC Offensive Player of the Week, who amassed 138 total yards and scored three TDs in a win over Carolina.

-- FS Jairus Byrd, who leads the NFL with eight interceptions, was limited in work this week as he tends to a chronically sore groin. He will play Sunday against Miami.


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