The Miami Dolphins go into the season opener this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills as only 3 point favorites, and even 3 point underdogs by the USA Today.
So this is not a agme where one can overlook the Bills, no matter how bad they look on paper.
But for the Dolphins to get the victory this weekend, they will need to execute at least six keys to the game to get that achievement.
- Offensive Line Play: The Dolphins have not been running the ball, or blocking well for that matter at all this pre-season. It looks to be a problem at this point in time. The line looks to have no chemistry, and no depth, while not getting enough push and penetration to get any kind of decent holes for the backs. We’ll see against Buffalo whether what we saw during the exhibition season was what we will see during the regular season or not.
- Run The Ball Effectively: As I mentioned above, the running attack has been MIA during the pre-season. The Fins will need to take advantage of the Bills weak front seven, and force the Bills to come up and stack the box. For Miami to be successful they will need to run the ball early and often. The R&R Express should have a feast against the Bills. If the ground game does not succeed though, it could be a long day for Miami.
- Henne’s Accuracy: Whether the Fins can get the ground game churning or not, Henne will have to show his accuracy and all of the work he has put in this summer on that at some point during the game. If Henne cannot get the ball to his receivers, why should Buffalo not stack the box against Miami’s run game? Henne has worked on this all off-season, now is his time to shine in that area.
- Stopping The Rush: The Dolphins revamped front seven will be facing off against Buffalo’s high-strung run offense on Sunday. The Bills are three deep when it comes to their backfield, and all three, C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, and Marshawn Lynch, can get into the endzone, and have the ability to break a game open. It will be crucial that the Fins set the edge against Spiller, and not allow him to get outside, and to all around stuff the run like they have done all pre-season long.
- Jason Allen vs. Lee Evans: Jason Allen will be getting the start over Sean Smith this weekend, and he will be manned up against Dolphin killer Lee Evans. Evans has game breaking speed, and I can guarantee you that they will be throwing over the top to Evans more than just a few times with Allen in coverage. Allen will need to get his hands on the ball a couple times, and show Bills quarterback Trent Edwards to stay away from his coverage.
- Chris Clemons: This will be the first time that Dol-Fans will get a good look at new starting free safety Chris Clemons. We do not know how good he is, and really what his strengths and weaknesses are. This will be a game where if we do not hear Clemons name on the television screen, that is a good indicator on how well Clemons is doing. Clemons has blazing speed, but he is still a question mark. Balls will be thrown into his coverage a few times on Sunday, but what will Clemons do about it? If he can only allow less than a 50% completion rate into his coverage I will be happy.
I predict the Dolphins will get the win after a big fourth quarter, 27-13. The Dolphins will have to step up every aspect of their game if they wish to notch the win against the Bills. This will not be an easy game, that’s for sure.