Week 17 Tale of the Tape: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackThis is clearly a vital game for the Bills and quarterback Tyrod Taylor as the visitors are fighting to get into the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Taylor had one of his best games when the Bills beat the Dolphins in Week 15, as Taylor (knee) completed 17 of 29 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's 24-16 win over Miami. He added 42 yards and a touchdown on six carries.Jay Cutler has had an up-and-down season for the Dolphins, and it’s not inconceivable that he could be back for the 2018 season. If that is going to happen, Cutler would be wise to leave management and the coaching staff with a strong final game of the season. Cutler needs to get off to a strong start if that is going to happen, because he is not the type to rally a team after falling behind.
- OffenseThe Bills have been operating with a substandard offense throughout the season as management has not given Taylor an adequate receiving crew this year. The key performer on offense is running back LeSean McCoy, and he remains one of the most versatile stars in the NFL. Charles Clay is an adequate tight end, but the wideouts lack consistency and big-play ability.Kenyan Drake has taken over as the No. 1 running back since the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi, but there’s no guarantee that he will hold onto the job in 2018. Drake is a hard worker who can avoid the first hit, but he is not a gamebreaker. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry deserves credit for breaking the century mark in receptions (103), but he rarely breaks long plays.
- DefenseThe Bills thought they would have a hard hitting and nasty defense that set the tone, but that unit has largely been a disappointment. While the Bills have talent on defense, they rank 25th in yards allowed and it is simply too easy to move the ball against them. Linebacker Preston Brown is an exceptional tackler, but the pass rush has been disappointing.The Dolphins have plenty of talent on the defensive side, and they could have a dominating unit with Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Kiko Alonso. However, the Miami defense has been inconsistent since the start of the season with one or two good games followed by a couple of poor efforts. The Dolphins need more big plays when the game is on the line.
- Special TeamsThe Bills have worked very hard to rebuild their special teams and they have climbed the charts this season. They do an excellent job in punt coverage, and have nearly a 2-1 yardage differential in their favor. Steven Hauschka and Colton Schmidt comprise a fine PK-P combination.The Dolphins have also gotten the job done on special teams this season, and they have excelled when it comes to punt and kickoff coverage. They need to find a return specialist who can break the long play. Cody Parkey has had an excellent season and has developed into a consistent placekicker.
The Bills are fighting for a playoff spot while the Dolphins are just playing out the string, so the Bills have the motivation to win, while the Dolphins have the motivation to start their offseason. The Bills figure it out and get the win.