Friday, October 15, 2004

Week 6: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (10/17/04)

It’s hard to fathom a more meaningless game than Sunday’s tilt between the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. Miami sits at 0-5, while Buffalo is 0-4 due to a bye week.

These teams are equally abysmal at the moment. Buffalo enjoys an advantage at running back. Travis Henry, not to be confused with Miami’s Leonard Henry, is the more talented back. Unfortunately, Buffalo’s offensive line is putrid. Rumors are swirling that University of Miami’s Willis McGahee might make his first NFL start on Sunday. Drew Bledsoe has been sacked 19 times this season, the most of any NFL quarterback. Buffalo made themselves even weaker at wide receiver this week when they cut Bobby Shaw. Eric Moulds is a very solid go-to guy, catching 9 passes per game this year. Outside of Moulds, their second leading receiver, Lee Evans, has only caught 8 balls.

On the bright side, Miami has an incredible defense and Buffalo’s is ranked a respectable 15th. If Miami could orchestrate a decent pass rush, that would be enough to probably beat Buffalo. Miami has Bledsoe flustered in their two 2003 encounters. London Fletcher leads Buffalo’s defense. They are very strong at LB. Jeff Posey and Takeo Spikes are very good football players. However, Buffalo’s defense doesn’t make big plays. They have only 6 sacks and 3 interceptions forced this season.

Like every other game this season, it will be determined by turnover differential. It looks like Jay Fiedler will be the starting QB on Sunday, provided he’s able to play with a cracked rib. When making a prediction, it’s pretty simple. Both teams have equally horrid offenses, with a slight edge going to Buffalo. On the defensive side, Miami is clearly the stronger force. The defense keeps Miami in almost any football game. The six-point spread in favor of Buffalo is ridiculous. The 30-point over/under is more indicative of this game. If I were a bettor, I would take Miami and under on points.

A fitting result would be a 0-0 tie, but that’s unlikely to happen. I look for Miami to win a game that frankly, for Dave Wannstedt, is a must-win. It may not save his job in the long run, but a loss could have him dismissed or resigned in a matter of weeks. Miami will be big underdogs next week vs. St. Louis and the week following at the Meadowlands. If Miami can’t win this one, they could conceivably be 0-8 going into a home game vs. Arizona. My prediction is that Miami goes into their bye week 1-9 and Wannstedt gets fired at that point.

Sunday’s game will be ugly to watch. If Miami is smart, they will pass as little as possible and rely on Bledsoe to make a big mistake or two. If there’s one sure thing in the NFL, it’s that Drew Bledsoe cannot be relied on to control a game. In large part because of Bledsoe’s propensity for the big turnover, I pick Miami to win.

My Prediction: Miami Dolphins 10, Buffalo Bills 6


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