Bills vs. Dolphins: Buffalo Looking To Avoid Post-Patriots Letdown

Tom Szczerbowski

The Buffalo Bills will look to build on a stronger-than-usual showing in New England against a Miami Dolphins team that has had their number in recent seasons.

In Week 7, the New York Jets traveled to take on the New England Patriots on the road; the Jets surprised a lot of people that day by taking the Patriots to overtime before ultimately losing, 29-26. That left Jets fans feeling a little better about the team - until the following week, at least, when the Jets came back home and were pounded into submission by the Miami Dolphins, 30-9.

This week, the Buffalo Bills will look to avoid a similar fate. Just days after losing 37-31 in New England, the Bills will return to their home field to take on the Dolphins - a team that roundly abused the Bills in two games during the 2011 season - in yet another must-win game for a disappointing football team.

I asked Kevin Nogle of our sister site here at SB Nation, The Phinsider, whether or not this year's Dolphins team resembled the 2011 outfit that beat the Bills 35-8 in Miami, then followed that up by opening up a 30-13 lead in Orchard Park before winning by a touchdown.

"Obviously, a number of players are the same, and they are familiar with the Bills because of that. But the team is different," Nogle writes. "I would not put much stock in last season compared to this season. With the entire coaching staff different and Ryan Tannehill under center, it's really not the same team."

The Bills are 1-3 against the Dolphins under head coach Chan Gailey, including 0-2 at home. Their lone win came in Week 15 of the 2010 season, when Miami kicker Dan Carpenter missed four field goals during a 17-14 Bills win. Miami, however, has undergone fairly radical change since last season, hiring a new head coach (Joe Philbin), installing a brand new offense with a new coordinator (Mike Sherman), and handing the reins of the franchise over to a rookie quarterback (Tannehill). That doesn't mean the changes have been bad, however; just two weeks ago, the Dolphins were considered playoff contenders before dropping two straight games.

"Last year may not matter much when the two teams face off this year, but I think this team is much more talented than people realize," Nogle told me. "They aren't going to be Super Bowl contenders or anything, but if they can get into a rhythm, they are a good-looking team."

They were certainly a good-looking team against Buffalo last season. They were not, however, good-looking in Sunday's 37-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans at home; Buffalo looked much better against those Titans than Miami did. Still, recent history is on Miami's side entering this contest, and if Chan Gailey wants to win back any of the gobs of support he's lost over the last few months, notching his third divisional win in as many seasons would be an acceptable way to start.

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