Dolphins at Bills: 7 players to watch

Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore (8) looks to pass against the New York Jets during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore looks to pass against the New York Jets during the second quarter last Sunday. Moore is trying to lead Miami into the playoffs. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Matt Moore — Moore makes his second start in five years and second in two weeks. It’s hard to expect Moore to match the career-high four touchdown passes he recorded last Saturday. Moore could lean on short passes as Bills defensive linemen like Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Lorenzo Alexander will present problems for guard Jermon Bushrod, center Kraig Urbik and left tackle Branden Albert. This week, Miami offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen compared Moore to former Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck and praised Moore’s “magnetic personality.”

Jay Ajayi — Ajayi ran for 214 yards and averaged 7.6 yards per carry in the first meeting and we can all be assured that won’t happen against a Rex Ryan-coached defense. In the last four weeks, Ajayi hasn’t even topped 61 yards in a game, although coaches say he’s doing exactly what they want. The Bills run defense is ranked 27th in the NFL. In three of the last four games, Ajayi has averaged 2.5, 2.4 and 2.7 yards per carry. He desperately wants to break out again.

Xavien Howard — Howard played really well against the Jets and Brandon Marshall after returning from a second knee injury. Howard may draw Sammy Watkins, who hasn’t played as well after missing eight games with a foot injury, but who still is a dangerous talent. Watkins has been frustrated with Buffalo’s lack of a passing attack (31st) but with Byron Maxwell unlikely to play, Buffalo may take a few shots.

Kiko Alonso — Alonso struggled with some tackles (he’s still recovering from a balky hamstring and a broken thumb) last week but played with typical passion and made a key fourth-down stop. The assignment here is to limit running back LeSean McCoy, who was injured in the first meeting but who spearheads the NFL’s #1 rushing attack. Dolphins coaches have stressed setting the edge to avoid long outside runs and to swarm when McCoy begins to bounce. Jelani Jenkins is not likely to play. Miami’s other linebackers have been pedestrian. All eyes on Alonso.

Cameron Wake — If there’s one thing that’s been consistent about Miami’s defense the last nine weeks its been pressure from the edge created by Wake. He’s had some favorable matchups against sub-par tackles and this week could be no different. Jordan Mills is the 56th-ranked tackle by Pro Football Focus and Cyrus Kouandjio is a backup likely to start. Wake is motivated every week but with a chance to get to the playoffs for the first time, look out.

Kenny Stills — Moore looked to Stills in a key moment against Arizona. And Stills caught a long touchdown from Moore against the Jets. Moore loves gamble for it all at least a few times a game. The Bills have a pretty solid pass defense and corners Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby and Nickell Robey-Coleman are capable. But Stills did have 5-100-1 in the first meeting.

Bacarri Rambo — Rambo came off the street and had a pretty good start to his Dolphins career, though he’s tailed a bit in recent weeks. Communication, proper angles and simply keeping up with the speed of receivers like Sammy Watkins and Marquise Goodwin (67-yard touchdown in the first meeting) will be keys on Saturday. The loss of Reshad Jones has shown itself in the last few games. Rambo doesn’t have to be as good as his good friend Jones, but he must show against the Bills, his former squad.

For Miami Dolphins DE Cameron Wake, playoff-less suffering on verge of end

Get to know Ja’Wuan James: A Miami Dolphins Q&A

Top 10 most exciting Miami Dolphins of 2016

VIDEO: Before Miami Dolphins special teams scores, Walt Aikens was sick dunker

NFL releases official Miami Dolphins playoff clinching scenarios

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.


Reader Comments 0