The Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins each enter Sunday’s AFC East showdown with perfect 2-0 records. Both teams are coming off 40-point games offensively in Week 2. Each team is battling injuries. Barring a tie, though, only one team will sit atop the AFC East Division at the end of this game.
In the NFL, every week is a brand-new challenge, and recent history means next to nothing in determining what the outcome of a game will be. So what if Buffalo has beaten Miami on six consecutive occasions? Those games are in the past, and neither team is the same outfit that it was when those games occurred. In a week-to-week league, teams need to bring it each day.
The Bills have shown that, when things are firing on all cylinders, they might be the league’s best team. Miami is going to be extra motivated to show that they’re ready to challenge Buffalo after falling short so many times before. This weekend’s game, while not an absolute “must-win,” is a great measuring stick in the early going.
Here are our five players to watch in this week’s game.
QB Josh Allen
Allen is currently tied for the league lead in touchdown passes with seven. He’s tied with a group that includes Miami’s quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. Allen is third in passing yards; Tagovailoa is first. Allen is second in completion percentage; Tagovailoa is sixth. In short, the quarterback matchup this week is a good one. There’s no doubt in my mind that Allen is the superior player, and he has a chance to prove just how much distance is between the two players by continuing the roll he’s been on since the end of last year. Regardless of who he’s targeted this year, Allen has been precise in his passes, showing that he’s somehow even better than he was the last two seasons. Traditionally, Allen has run roughshod over the Dolphins, averaging 248 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and one interception in his career against Miami. He’s also totaled 430 rushing yards and four touchdowns in those eight career games. If he keeps on that level of a roll, Buffalo will score enough points to cover for any issues they may have on defense due to some injuries in the back end (more on that below).
WR Stefon Diggs
With Jalen Ramsey on him, Diggs had a huge game—catching eight passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. With a combination of Caleb Farley and Roger McCreary on him, he had an even bigger game—going for 12 catches, 148 yards, and three touchdowns. Regardless of whether it’s Xavien Howard or Jevon Holland, it isn’t going to matter: Diggs is a bona fide stud on a mission, and it’s going to take a Herculean effort to slow him. Since coming to the Bills, Diggs has caught 24 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns in four games against the Dolphins. Whether wide receiver Gabe Davis is healthy enough to play or not, I expect that Diggs is going to have a big afternoon. If Miami stops him, it will at least make Allen look elsewhere—but this Buffalo offense is loaded to the point where you can’t stop everyone.
DE Greg Rousseau
Groot is feasting right now, and the influence from veteran Von Miller is telling. As a rookie, Rousseau had four sacks, eight tackles for a loss, and ten quarterback hits. Through two games in 2022, he already has two sacks, three tackles for a loss, and three quarterback hits. With teams committing extra attention to Miller, Rousseau has been able to collapse the pocket using a variety of moves, using his strength and his length to disrupt passing lanes for quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Ryan Tannehill. Against a beat-up Dolphins offensive line that could be without offensive tackle Terron Armstead, Rousseau has a chance at a big game. Buffalo sacked Miami quarterbacks six times in the first meeting last year, and this year’s pass-rush group is significantly better. Groot will have at least one on Sunday.
LB Tremaine Edmunds
This is a big week for Buffalo’s back seven defenders. Miami can run a variety of crossing routes with receivers Jaylon Waddle, Tyreek Hill, and Mike Gesicki—and given Buffalo’s zone-heavy scheme relies on communication and disrupting passing lanes, the players who are healthy and have been in the system need to step up on Sunday. Edmunds has played very well this year, as an improved defensive front has kept him clean, which allows him to read and react with much more efficiency. On multiple occasions, his presence has deterred opposing quarterbacks from throwing into tight middle windows. With some injuries behind him, he’ll need to be on point this week in order to keep those crossers from becoming big gains.
There are too many question marks to settle on one player here, so this is my bullet-pointed list of concerns heading into the game. The caveat here is that, with a solid pass rush, perhaps many of these concerns are alleviated. However, I’m wondering:
- How will Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford hold up against a deadly one-two punch in Hill and Waddle?
- Can Jordan Poyer play?
- If no, how will his likely replacement in Jaquan Johnson fare?
- Are we going to see Taron Johnson trying to shadow Hill again? That’s something I’d like to avoid, so I hope not.
- Do the Bills activate an extra defensive back just in case for depth purposes?