The Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins will face off at One Bills Drive with first place in the AFC East on the line (in all likelihood as the Jets face the Packers at Lambeau). What is this, 1990? Well, this Sunday’s home game is as close to a 1990s feeling as we have had as Bills fans in 2 decades. What home opener has seriously had this much hype?
First, it is not too often that the Bills win a road game to open the season and come home at 1-0. The last time it happened was in 2011, when the Bills crushed Kansas City and then came home and beat the Raiders in dramatic fashion. Before that we can go all the way back to the Jim Kelly era as the Bills won in the Meadowlands to open the 1996 season.
Secondly, for the first time since I truly remember paying such close attention to this team, there is no worry of the team actually moving. With Pegula buying the team, we can all sleep peacefully now knowing the team will not be going anywhere.
Third, the greatest Bills QB of all time and biggest advocate of the team battled cancer all off season and right before the opener in Chicago was told he was cancer free.
Fourth, newly inducted Buffalo Bill hall of famer Andre Reed will lead the team out of the tunnel. I am pretty sure most of the crowd will have goose bumps.
Fifth, talking about goose bumps, the tribute to founder Ralph Wilson will sure to bring tears to the eyes of thousands of fans.
Sixth, what better team to be facing than the hated Miami Dolphins?
Since I started going to most/all of the games about 10 to 15 years ago, I would rank the top 5 home openers in terms of “pre game hype” as follows.
Honorable Mention: New England Patriots, 2013 - A lot of hype surrounded the Bills new coaching staff and rookie QB, but I don’t think anyone really expected anything great from that team.
5. Houston Texans, 2005 - JP Losman’s first game as we all hoped he was the next great QB, in the year following our heroic run to 9-7.
4. New England Patriots, 2003 - After picking up Lawyer Milloy and Takeo Spikes in the offseason, the Bills had playoff aspirations in Bledsoe’s second year.
3. New York Jets, 2002 - Drew Bledsoe’s first game as a Bill, the year after the Bills went 3-13 (PS - Bledsoe was great in 2002 throwing for 4,359 yards).
2. Tennessee Titans, 2000 - Sunday night opener, rematch of the Music City Miracle.
1. Miami Dolphins, 2014 - Kelly, Ralph, Pegula, big road win, Reed, hated rivals coming off big win.
So what about the Bills opponent on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins? They are coming off a big 33-20 win, including a 2nd have destruction, 23 to zilch, of the New England Patriots, in their home opener in 1 million degree & 7,000% humidity Miami, Florida. Football outsiders said Cameron Wake was the best football player last weekend and he will be going up against a rookie tackle. Knowshon Moreno ran all over the Patriots defense for 134 yards. They held the Pats to 89 yards on the ground and Brady only completed 29/56 for 249 yards. The Dolphin defense sacked Brady 4 times. The Phins clearly did a good job running the ball, stopping the run and pressuring Tom Brady…a good formula for success.
So what must the Bills do to win the game? Here are my keys to the game.
Keys to the game for the Bills on offense:
- Get Sammy Watkins and CJ Spiller more involved. Combined under 100 yards last week is inexcusable and Nate Hackett needs to somehow get more creative and get these guys involved more. The grantland
pod cast this week talked about the best rookie fantasy WR and guess who wasn’t even mentioned, Sammy Watkins. Yeah I know it is fantasy and not real football, but fantasy football still depends on production and to not even be on that conversation is pathetic.
- Block Cameron Wake. Chip with a TE or one of the 9 running backs on the roster. Whatever the Bills do, they need to block Wake. The Dolphins will undoubtedly try and put pressure on EJ Manuel. They have a huge matchup advantage with Cameron vs. rookie 7th round pick Seantrel Henderson. We will soon find out what we have in the rookie 7th rounder.
- EJ Manuel play with some confidence please. Use your athleticism to make plays and stop being a pu---. Complete some clutch passes and don’t do anything stupid.
Keys to the game for the Bills on defense:
- Stop the run and make Miami one dimensional. The Dolphins ran with great success against New England, but this Bills defense with the backing of the 12th man which is sure to be crazy, will pose a different threat than the Pats. The Bills held the bears to 86 yards on the ground. Yeah, Forte had 8 catches for 87 yards coming out of the backfield, but Miami doesn’t have a back that poses that kind of threat (who does?).
- Tee off on the bad/mediocre Tannehill
- The Bills will win 23-13. The home field advantage will be significant. Beyond that, I think the Bills are just better. After all, this team swept Miami last season with Thad Lewis at the helm. The games were actually important for Miami too who was on the verge of a playoff spot until the Bills spoiled it for them. A win to go to 2-0 would be huge and really MUST happen in order for this Bills team to be a legitimate playoff contender.
@twreckk predicts 17-14 Bills win
Steve 21-20 Bills win