With a Baltimore Ravens’ loss or losses by both the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans, the Buffalo Bills can make the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. First, they have to win their regular season finale against division rival, the Miami Dolphins. These players can make or break the game, and potentially the 2017 NFL season, for the Bills.
QB Tyrod Taylor
In Week 15, Taylor had a decent day through the air against the Dolphins at home. He only completed 58 percent of his passes, but he threw for 224 yards and a touchdown. The difference was with his legs, as he added 42 rushing yards and a score. With the Dolphins almost completely shutting down the run game in their last meeting, Taylor will need to step up his efficiency through the air for the Bills to come home with the win.
WR Kelvin Benjamin
Benjamin almost had a breakout game against the Patriots. By standards of recent receiver production from the Bills, his 5 catches for 70 yards seem fantastic. A couple of times, Tyrod Taylor put trust in Benjamin to make a play and it paid off, albeit not as much as it could have. Taylor threw a beautiful fade route to Benjamin at the end of the first half, which the big receiver caught, but the replay officials determined that there was irrefutable evidence that Benjamin did not control the ball with two feet in bounds. Benjamin also caught a contested ball against former Bills’ cornerback Stephon Gilmore, which Benjamin broke for a 35-yard gain. Taylor can and should feel confident going to Benjamin in one-on-one contested throws, and it could be a difference-maker in the game.
CB E.J. Gaines
Oddly enough, the Bills are 7-3 when Gaines plays and 1-4 when he does not. He was missed last week, especially in the run game, where he excels making tackles on the edge. The Dolphins threw the ball 49 times last game with Jay Cutler while averaging 4.76 yards per carry on the ground. I would expect the Dolphins to dip into their run game a bit more where Gaines and the other corners could be vital to slowing them down on the edge.
LB Preston Brown
Despite being the second-leading tackler in the NFL, Brown actually hasn't been too great this year. In coverage, Brown is a liability in just about every aspect. He can be slow at times covering the flat, and he doesn't have the quickness to keep up with good route runners in the middle of the field. As a result, many teams choose to attack him. The Dolphins could very easily do the same.
DT Kyle Williams
Sadly, this could be Kyle Williams’s last game for the Buffalo Bills. The heart this man has put into this team and the city of Buffalo is unmatched over the last 12 seasons, and a playoff berth in what could be his final season would be huge for him, his team, and the city that loves him. We all know that Kyle plays well in big situations. If he already knows he is going to retire, we will see the most relentless guy on that field. If he doesn't know, the same applies. This is the beauty of Williams. Whether the game is for a playoff spot or merely for pride, he has consistently given his all for his teammates.