The Buffalo Bills will hit the practice field this afternoon to begin preparations for Sunday's must-win game against the host Miami Dolphins. If last season serves as any indication, we could be in for an ugly game this weekend.
The two teams' Week 1 matchup a year ago is almost totally irrelevant from Buffalo's standpoint, because that game featured an offense boasting Trent Edwards, Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch. (Whoa.) The Bills lost that stinker 15-10 in Chan Gailey's first game as head coach. Buffalo managed just 189 yards of offense in defeat, while the Dolphins ran for 132 yards and a touchdown - just enough to eke out a win.
Things weren't much better in Week 15, when the Bills won 17-14 in Miami thanks largely to five - yes, five - missed field goals from Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter.
That's a combined score of 29-27 in favor of Miami, folks. That'd be one entertaining game of football; instead, it was two competitive-yet-difficult-to-watch games from a year ago. In that second matchup, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two pretty touchdown passes, while the Dolphins could only manage 65 rushing yards against the Bills' league-worst run defense. Yet Miami was still in the game, but Carpenter blew it with a Mark Sanchez-esque day kicking the football.
How ugly was it for Buffalo? Their ill-advised attempt to run a Pistol formation in Week 1 brought about very little production, and they barely squeaked by in the second matchup despite looking like an actual football team that day. How ugly was it for Miami? If five missed field goals isn't enough, here's another stat: in the two games, the Bills recorded six of their 27 sacks last year. That's six sacks in two games, then 21 in the other 14. Buffalo literally doubled its per-game sack rate against Miami.
This year, Miami is 2-7, though they have won two straight (against Kansas City and Washington) after an 0-7 start. The team has found ways to use Reggie Bush effectively, and are getting good game management out of Matt Moore, but we're still talking about a last-place football team that's confident after beating two teams that Buffalo beat by a combined score of 64-7. To call Buffalo's performances in the last two weeks "ugly" might be a compliment.
If you're setting expectations for this weekend, expect an ugly game. I don't think there's a Bills fan out there right now that wouldn't take an ugly win, however.