Here’s a look at how the Miami Dolphins (2-0) and Buffalo Bills (2-0) match up in six key areas ahead of Sunday’s Week 3 game at Hard Rock Stadium (1 p.m., CBS):
When the Dolphins run: Miami got its ground game going a little bit for 4.8 yards per carry in last Sunday’s 42-38 win over the Baltimore Ravens. It just didn’t splash more because there were limited opportunities playing from behind most of the afternoon — not to mention the Ravens ate up 11 minutes on one first-half drive they didn’t even score on.
In Week 1, it was Chase Edmonds that got the bulk of the carries against New England. Against Baltimore, it was Raheem Mostert. Who is favored in the workload will depend on matchups coaches find advantageous. Right tackle Greg Little, who will be filling in for Austin Jackson (ankle), had a great block on Edmonds’ late 28-yard run that set Miami up for the winning score vs. the Ravens.
Buffalo, however, to no one’s surprise, is the league’s top-ranked run defense through two weeks, and the Bills just shut down Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry on Monday night. With the veteran All-Pro Von Miller now in Buffalo setting one edge and Greg Rousseau, the first-round pick out of Miami in 2021, on the other, plus DaQuan Jones, Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips on the interior, Buffalo is strong on the defensive line. Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano at linebacker give the Bills a stout defensive front. Edge: Bills
When the Bills run: Buffalo’s trio of South Florida running backs will be salivating at the thought of scoring a touchdown back home, especially as neither of the three have scored yet through the Bills’ two blowouts. Devin Singletary (American Heritage-Delray High, FAU) is the starting tailback, but rookie James Cook (Miami Central High) and Zack Moss (Hallandale High) split carries with him, so they all stay fresh.
Quarterback Josh Allen is always a running threat, as well, and he has 66 yards on 11 attempts plus a touchdown thus far in 2022. Veteran Rodger Saffold, the Pro Bowler in 2021 with the Titans, was brought in to play guard in a strong left side of the line next to tackle Dion Dawkins.
The Dolphins were solid in run defense in Baltimore outside of the 79-yard touchdown allowed to quarterback Lamar Jackson. Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler will be counted on at the line of scrimmage with Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram setting the edge. Miami already knows it will be in for a great challenge against Allen through the air. They need to at least keep the Bills one-dimensional. Edge: Dolphins
When the Dolphins pass: Tagovailoa is coming off his all-time best performance, earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after throwing for 469 yards and six touchdowns in leading Miami to the thrilling comeback from down 21 points. After being held in check for two touchdowns and two interceptions through three quarters, he was finally able to expose the Ravens’ banged-up secondary with the two long touchdowns to Tyreek Hill on busted coverages and another pair of drives.
The Bills are also dealing with injuries to their defensive backs. All-Pro Tre’Davious White is out on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list. Fellow cornerback Dane Jackson and the elite safety tandem of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde all have their status in doubt heading into Sunday. Buffalo, nonetheless, still ranks second in the league through two weeks in pass defense, even while playing from ahead so often when opponents can pad their stats late.
You don’t want a bunch of hobbled guys in coverage tasked with keeping up with Hill, who finished with 190 receiving yards in Baltimore, and Jaylen Waddle, who had 171 and two touchdowns of his own, including the game-winner. Buffalo can still rush the passer, though, with Miller and Rousseau on the edge, among others. That will be a challenge for Miami’s offensive tackles as Terron Armstead deals with a toe injury and Greg Little continues to fill in for Austin Jackson on the right side. Edge: Even
When the Bills pass: Allen has been known to torch the Dolphins, but Miami made progress in that regard in two meetings last year, keeping him to passer ratings of 75.2 and 100.2, his lowest since his first appearance against the Dolphins as a rookie. His five outings in between all saw him post a passer rating above 110. Allen, in eight games against Miami, has 21 touchdowns to five interceptions as he enters on a seven-game win streak versus the division rival.
This season, he has completed 52-of-69 passes (75.4 percent) for 614 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. His top receiver, Stefon Diggs, is having another monster season with 20 receptions for 270 yards and four touchdowns. Gabe Davis was limited early this week with an ankle injury, and tight end Dawson Knox (foot) missed Wednesday’s practice.
It’s a bad sign for the Dolphins that cornerback Xavien Howard sat out Wednesday’s drills with a groin injury. He made it through the win over the Ravens but didn’t look like himself when he got beat for a long touchdown by Rashod Bateman and couldn’t catch up to Jackson on his touchdown scamper. The Dolphins must pressure Allen after their blitzes were ineffective against Jackson and the Ravens. Edge: Bills
Special teams: Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass is perfect on three field goals and nine extra points. Sam Martin, the punter who is rarely used because the Bills offense is so productive, is averaging 48.5 yards on his punts. Buffalo uses South Florida product Isaiah McKenzie on kick returns and Jamison Crowder on punt returns.
The Dolphins gave up a 103-yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff against the Ravens, so special teams coordinator Danny Crossman has been letting his unit have it in practice. Edge: Bills
Intangibles: The Dolphins have the heat and humidity of South Florida in September on their side. They have a day and half more rest than the Bills after their last game, a Monday night win while Miami played last Sunday afternoon, plus Buffalo’s travel. The Bills are dealing with a number of injuries. All that gives the Dolphins the intangible edge for the 1 p.m. kickoff under the sun at Hard Rock Stadium.
But then you also remember that the Bills defeated their first two opponents, including the defending Super Bowl champs in their house, by a combined 55 points. And Buffalo has that pesky seven-game win streak on its side in the rivalry. Edge: Dolphins
PREDICTION: Bills 27, Dolphins 20