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  • Tony Fiorello

TONY’S TAKE – A PREVIEW OF BILLS-DOLPHINS

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Welcome to Week Four of the 2023 NFL season. Here at Buffalo Sports Page we will attempt to inform and educate our readers about the Buffalo Bills’ upcoming opponent and what each team might do to emerge victorious.

The Bills’ fourth game of 2023 will take place at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York as they face the Miami Dolphins. Here’s what you should know:

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 24: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins and Tyreek Hill #10 of the Miami Dolphins celebrate after a Miami touchdown during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Hard Rock Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)


MIAMI’S OFFENSE PLAYING AT AN EXTREMELY HIGH LEVEL

After winning 10 games in 2020 for just the third time since 2008, owner Stephen Ross gave general manager Chris Grier – the brother of ex-Buffalo Sabres winger Mike Grier – the authority to build the team as he and former head coach Brian Flores saw fit. However, after a nine-win campaign in 2021 Grier decided to make a coaching change and replaced Flores with San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel.

Under Flores, new faces were a constant at one area for Miami – offensive coordinator. While the basis of Flores’ philosophy stayed the same – using the Erhardt-Perkins concepts that his former employer, the New England Patriots, have based their passing game around for more than 20 years – the man calling the plays changed in all three of Flores’ seasons in South Beach. After trying out Chad O’Shea and Chan Gailey in 2019 and ’20, Flores decided to promote then-tight ends coach George Godsey (a former offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans) and running backs coach Eric Studesville to passing game and running game coordinator, respectively. Neither panned out.

In contrast, McDaniel – a longtime protégé of Mike and Kyle Shanahan – has brought their version of the West Coast offense to South Beach. The system is very creative in its ability to attack matchups and utilizes a lot of play-action passes, bootlegs and rollouts designed around the threat of outside-zone runs.

The Dolphins’ running philosophy relies on a mobile offensive line that pushes defenders from sideline to sideline on “stretch” runs that encourages its tailbacks to find holes on the opposite side of the play’s direction and cut back against the grain. Executing these blocks are former All-Pro Terron Armstead, Isaiah Wynn, Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Connor Williams, versatile fullback Alec Ingold and tight end Durham Smythe, and have allowed the lowest pressure rate in the NFL so far through three weeks (21.2 percent) and one sack. Conversely, the team they’re facing – Buffalo – has the highest pressure rate through three weeks (50.6 percent).

While the outside/wide zone is the team’s foundational run, McDaniel will also use power plays, traps, sweeps and counters as a changeup tactic and will throw in some misdirection concepts like end-arounds and reverses as well. These are usually carried out by speed threats Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr. (out with an injury) and De’Von Achane. This system has made many a star out of running backs for decades and most of Miami’s runs are executed out of “21” personnel (two backs, one tight end). Mostert and Wilson, for what it’s worth, were one of two running back tandems last year with each player gaining over 800 yards on the ground.

The reason why the Shanahan coaching tree likes to have two running backs on the field most of the time is to give credibility to the belief that they will call a running play at any time while also taking advantage of smaller defenders who are used to being on the field to stop the pass and forcing the opposition to use more basic coverages. According to former MMQB/SI writer Andy Benoit, “Shanahan plays with two backs more than any schemer, by a wide margin…. with two backs in, the Niners compel defenses to prepare for more run possibilities, which limits their options in coverages. Shanahan exploits the suddenly predictable coverages through route combinations or mismatch-making formation wrinkles.”

Wideouts Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are similar receivers – each are polished route runners, have good hands and speed to burn, and are adept at picking up yards after the catch, especially on in-breaking routes. They can also return punts in a pinch and are liberally used by McDaniel in jet and orbit motion to influence defenders’ responsibilities and create leverage and space. Hill and Waddle are also dangerous ballcarriers and will sometimes line up at running back.

Hill is perhaps the league’s fastest player and can line up anywhere – out wide, in the backfield and in the slot, where he is especially dangerous on post routes out of trips formations. The “Cheetah”, as he’s sometimes known, broke Mark Clayton’s single-season franchise record for receiving yards (set in 1984) a year ago and he and Waddle were the only two wideouts on the same team to each have over 1,300 yards last season.

Like his colleagues, McDaniel will have his wide receivers, running backs and tight ends line up in unusual places in the formation to determine if defenses are playing man or zone coverage and will have his wide receivers stay inside the numbers to give them extra room to run routes and to serve as additional blockers. His scheme makes excellent use of shifts and motions, especially to create false reads and favorable angles in the running game, and the receivers’ pass patterns work well off one another with many intersecting routes at all three levels.

At the helm of this attack is signal caller Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa, a rhythmic, precision passer and 2020’s fifth-overall draft pick out of Alabama, has most of his passing concepts come in the form of short and intermediate plays to play to his strengths as an intelligent passer who can get the ball out on time and to hide his limitations – particularly an arm that isn’t one of the league’s strongest.

In 2022 Miami was sixth in total offense, 11th in points per game, fourth in passing and 10th in red zone efficiency but struggled in the running game with just 99 yards a game on the ground (25th) while also faring poorly on third down (24th). Nonetheless, they still clinched their first playoff appearance since 2016.

Additionally the Dolphins hit a wall offensively over the last several weeks of 2022, contributing to them losing five of their last six. Their woes were especially notable against an elite 49ers defense that relied on a four-man rush and mainly zone coverages (Cover Four in particular) and a struggling Chargers defense that beat Miami with Cover One on early downs to disrupt Tagovailoa’s timing and take away in-breaking routes, and Cover Two zone on third downs.

So far in 2023, Miami’s offense has been record-breaking. Coming off a 70-point, 700-yard performance against the Denver Broncos a week ago (becoming the first team ever to put up both numbers in one game, the first to score 70 in a game since 1966 and just the fourth team ever to score 70 in a game), their 130 points through three weeks are the second-most in that time span all-time and are first in passing, rushing and total yards.

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 24: Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos attempts a pass while pressured by Christian Wilkins #94 of the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)


DOLPHINS’ DEFENSE HAS A SWITCH IN PHILOSOPHY

Former defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who worked with Flores in New England, favored playing lots of Cover One – man coverage with a single-high safety over the top – and occasionally mixed in some Cover Three concepts (deep zone coverage on the outside with a safety in the box and a deep safety patrolling centerfield). He also loved to blitz, sending extra rushers at quarterbacks out of multiple defensive fronts and sometimes zone-blitzed on third-down with a lot of disguise and late movement by their defensive backs at the snap.

These schemes allowed the Dolphins to be among the NFL’s leaders in takeaways and turnover margin in 2020. Miami went from dead-last in points allowed per game to among the best and were also among the league leaders in third-down and red zone defense. However, underperformance – especially in their pass rush – and injuries at cornerback set the Dolphins back severely, forcing Flores and Boyer to rely on zone coverage more and not blitz as much. Consequently, the team dropped to the bottom of the league in almost every statistical category, and they stayed there in 2022.

Something had to be done, so McDaniel let Boyer go and replaced him with one of the NFL’s best defensive minds in Vic Fangio, a onetime protégé of Dom Capers and Jim Mora. Having built dominant units in San Francisco and Chicago in recent years, Fangio finally got his long-awaited shot at being a head coach in Denver in 2019 but his tenure there didn’t go as planned. Now after spending last season as a consultant to the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, Fangio is back running his own unit.

Unlike Boyer, Fangio doesn’t blitz much. Relying on a four-man pass rush with stunts, twists and slants and two-deep safety looks often, he heavily employs well-disguised hybrid coverages that feature man and zone concepts – especially Cover Four, or “quarters”, with each defensive back dividing the field into fourths and matchup principles to take away vertical concepts. While the Dolphins are a base 3-4, he will also mix in 5-2 fronts to stop the run and dime versus the pass, and he does a great job with safety and coverage rotations in long passing situations.

This approach has been gaining in popularity in recent years throughout the NFL. According to Smart Football’s Chris B. Brown, “It’s the most important defensive scheme of the past decade…. At first glance, Cover 4 looks like an anti-pass prevent tactic, with four secondary defenders playing deep. But therein lies its magic. The four defenders are actually playing a matchup zone concept, in which the safety reads the tight end or inside receiver. If an offensive player lined up inside releases on a short pass route or doesn’t release into the route, the safety can help double-team the outside receiver. If the inside receiver breaks straight downfield, it becomes more like man coverage.

“This variance keeps quarterbacks guessing and prevents defenses from being exploited by common pass plays like four verticals, which killed eight-man fronts. The real key to Cover 4, however, is that against the run both safeties become rush defenders (remember, the outside cornerbacks play deep). This allows defenses to play nine men in the box against the run – a hat-tip to the 46’s overwhelming force.

Miami is led in their secondary by cornerbacks Xavien Howard and the injured Jalen Ramsey (replaced by Kayden Kohou), and when healthy are one of the better outside corner pairs in the league. Nik Needham (also injured) normally mans the slot and has been replaced by Justin Bethel. The team’s starting safeties are Brandon Jones and Jevon Holland, and DeShon Eliott is their top backup.

At linebacker the Dolphins employ David Long, Andrew Van Ginkel, Jerome Baker, Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips (out this weekend due to injury), and their defensive linemen are Emmanuel Ogbah, Raekwon Davis and Christian Wilkins. Zach Sieler has also earned playing time recently.

Miami’s defense has needed some time thus far in getting used to Fangio’s new scheme. They are 20th in points allowed, 23rd in total yards given up, 20th versus the pass, 24th against the run and 23rd on third down. But they’re sixth in takeaways.

LANDOVER, MD SEPTEMBER 24: Buffalo Bills linebacker Terrel Bernard (43) celebrates after recovering a fumble by Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson (24) during the game at FedEx Field on September 24, 2023. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)


BUFFALO’S DEFENSE ELITE, BUT UNDERGOING CHANGES IN 2023

For the majority of head coach Sean McDermott’s time in Buffalo, the Bills’ defense – led by longtime stalwarts such as Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Matt Milano and Ed Oliver – has been one of the league’s best in the regular season. Points allowed (second in the NFL in that category in 2022), total yards per game allowed (sixth), rushing yards surrendered (fifth), takeaways (tied for fourth), interceptions (tied for fourth) and red zone defense (second) have generally been the categories that the Bills have excelled at (last year’s 15th ranking against the pass not withstanding).

Buffalo, however, has been inconsistent in two areas – creating a consistent pass rush and, from time to time, stopping the run. These issues are mainly caused by poor tackling (a year ago their missed and broken tackle percentage were among the highest in the NFL), a lack of gap integrity and a lack of versatility along the defensive line. This problem came up again against the Jets, where the Bills allowed 172 yards on the ground but a week later they held Josh Jacobs – last year’s rushing champion – to -2 yards on nine carries, the first time a reigning rushing champion  was held to negative yards in a game according to ESPN.

To address this over the years, McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier (who will take this season off, leaving McDermott to call the defensive plays) have brought in more talent. Out went names like Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Star Lotulelei, Carlos “Boogie” Basham and Harrison Phillips, and in came talented linemen like Gregory Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa (who last week became the first Bills defensive lineman to return an interception for a touchdown since Aaron Schobel in 2009), Da’Quan Jones and Tim Settle, and the return of former Bills like Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson were also welcomed additions. This season Buffalo has also brought in veterans such as Leonard Floyd and Kaylon “Poona” Ford to help out.

Beyond improving against the run, the Bills had also lacked an elite pass rusher off the edge who could command double teams on a consistent basis since Mario Williams was employed nearly 10 years ago. With this in mind, in 2022 general manager Brandon Beane signed future Hall of Famer Von Miller – who is still one of the NFL’s best sack artists at age 34. But Miller suffered a torn ACL after putting up eight sacks in 12 games and will miss at least the first four games of this season while recovering from that ailment on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Schematically the Bills’ defense mostly relies on basic zone coverages after the snap (they’re usually among the top units in the NFL in usage of Cover Two, Four and Six) but before the snap it is complex – safety rotations to disguise their intentions keep opposing quarterbacks guessing and selective pressure looks at the line of scrimmage and coverage exchanges are the team’s calling cards.

Those blitz looks usually happen in the A-gaps with Milano and Terrell Bernard (replacing the departed Tremaine Edmunds) to confuse opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks, but they rarely send extra people – although they may need to more with Miller out, especially with four-man zone exchanges. With Miller the Bills were fourth in the NFL in pressure rate with four or less pass rushers, without him they were 27th in that category. Bernard has stepped up to the challenge so far, leading Buffalo in tackles and recording two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery against Washington – becoming the first NFL player to do so in one game since Brian Urlacher in 2007.

The Bills mainly utilize nickel personnel, as evidenced by Buffalo using five defensive backs between 90 and 100 percent of their snaps since 2020. They did use nine snaps of dime against Kansas City in Week Seven last year – a matchup that saw them rely on three-man rushes and Milano utilizing a spy technique on Patrick Mahomes, and they may use more “big” nickel looks with three safeties to match up with tights ends after the signing of ex-Ram Taylor Rapp.

White, one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, should be back to full form after tearing his ACL against the New Orleans Saints two years ago. Opposite him at the other boundary corner spot is second-year man Christian Benford, who flashed some ability a year ago, and they are backed up by Dane Jackson and Kaiir Elam. Slot corner Taron Johnson remains elite, and safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer have reunited to form perhaps the league’s best duo on the back end after being in and out of the lineup with various injuries throughout 2022 (Poyer is out for Sunday’s game with a knee ailment, and Rapp will replace him). The rangy and physical but inconsistent Damar Hamlin has also returned to full health after suffering a cardiac arrest episode against Cincinnati in Week 16.

Special teams were also solid for the Bills in 2022, having been 13th in punt return average and sixth in kick return average (which was boosted by Nyheim Hines’ two kick returns for scores in Week 18, the first player in Bills history to return two kicks for scores in one game and the first kick return for a touchdown by a Bill in three years) and were 18th and third in covering punts and kicks, respectively. Hines, however, was lost for the season after a knee injury was sustained during the summer and the team allowed a punt return for a touchdown in overtime in Week One – the first time an NFL game ended on a punt return score since 2011.

Through three weeks Buffalo is second in points and total yards allowed, third against the pass, 14th versus the run, second in sacks despite blitzing the least out of any NFL team and first in interceptions and takeaways. Their nine sacks and four picks a week ago against Washington allowed them to be the first team to put up those numbers in a game since the 1985 Dallas Cowboys.

LANDOVER, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills calls out to teammates before taking the snap against the Washington Commanders during the first half at FedExField on September 24, 2023 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)


BILLS’ OFFENSE AN UPPER-ECHELON UNIT, BUT ALSO GETTING A FACELIFT

Led by quarterback Josh Allen and a cadre of gifted wide receivers, the Buffalo Bills boast one of the NFL’s elite offenses for the first time since the K-Gun was running roughshod over the league 30 years ago. Allen’s improved processing skills, ball placement, patience within the pocket and touch on passes have allowed Buffalo to become one of the most feared attacks in pro football (he was second in passing and total touchdowns and seventh in yards in 2022.)

His core of targets is deep and talented. Stefon Diggs is an exceptional route runner who excels in making contested catches and operates well out of bunch and stack formations. His presence along with the physical Gabriel Davis has balanced out Buffalo’s wide receiver corps. But one element – speed – was lacking a year ago, so the Bills addressed this by letting veterans Jamison Crowder, Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie and John Brown walk and brought in burners like Trent Sherfield and Deonte Harty to go along with second-year man Khalil Shakir. Tight end Dawson Knox is now joined by rookie first-round pick Dalton Kincaid from Utah, and their diverse skillsets should allow offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey to throw more curveballs at opponents with multiple tight end sets.

The Bills’ offensive line is composed of Dion Dawkins, ex-Dallas Cowboy Connor McGovern, Mitch Morse, rookie O’Cyrus Torrence and Spencer Brown. This crew along with fullback Reggie Gilliam, while not elite, has mainly executed outside zone runs along with zone-reads, pin-and-pull concepts, traps, counters, split inside zone and sprint draw plays sprinkled in for running back James Cook. Cook will take on more of a featured role as former teammate Devin Singletary left for Houston and is now backed up by ex-Patriot Damien Harris (who brings power to the table) and veteran Latavius Murray, who has rushed for a touchdown with six NFL teams – tied with Adrian Peterson for the most all-time.

The starting front five, while not bad, has been iffy in providing push in the running game and in pass protection over the last couple of years. Most of the team’s rushing production has come from Allen’s legs and few came from their backs – the Bills’ rushing attempts per game in 2022, 18.2, was last in the NFL but that number may increase this year. In Week One against New York Buffalo surrendered five sacks, tied for the fifth-most in Allen’s career, but has been taken down just twice in the last two weeks.

Buffalo’s passing offense is a Patriots-style system built upon concepts involving option and crossing routes from the slot, downfield routes from the outside, run-pass options (especially in the red zone), designed quarterback runs to take advantage of Allen’s mobility, deep dropbacks and alignments that create favorable matchups and some trick plays with jet/orbit motion and sweeps. They have also used plenty of pre-snap motion and shifts – in the past it was mostly out of “11” personnel groupings (one back, one tight end and three wide receivers) and “10” personnel (one back, no tight ends, four receivers).

The Bills’ multi-receiver sets were traditionally their offensive calling card. In 2020 they used four wide receivers or more 155 times – the second-most in the NFL at the time – and they utilized someone in motion on 43 percent of their offensive snaps, a huge increase from their 25 percent rate in 2019. Former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll – now the head coach of the New York Giants – also called for a passing play on 64 percent of their first downs, according to ESPN Stats and Information – no team with a winning record in the last 20 years did it more than Buffalo – and that rate continued in 2021 and ’22 with “11” personnel used on nearly three-quarters of their plays.

However, Buffalo’s usage of “12” personnel (one back, two tight ends) has increased with the employment of Knox and Kincaid (used on a league-leading 45 percent of their snaps through two weeks). They were last in the NFL in usage of that grouping a year ago (three percent), and their amount of play-action passes could increase after they dropped from being a top-four team in those concepts used in 2020 and ’21 to 25th a year ago.

Yet for everything the Bills did right on offense last year (first in third down conversion percentage, second in points scored and in total yards per game, fifth in passing, seventh in rushing and ninth in red zone percentage), two flaws remained – they were one the league’s sloppiest teams with 27 turnovers and the team’s ability to create sustained offense slipped during the stretch run of the season. Allen had 14 interceptions and 13 fumbles in the regular season and had three turnovers in the wild card playoff round versus the Dolphins (mainly due to perceiving pressure that wasn’t there, playing too fast and a lack of speed at wideout) and turned the ball over four times against New York in Week One, but has done so once in the last two weeks.

However, the Bills won eight in a row (including playoffs, their longest streak since eight in 1990) and included winning six straight non-Sunday games – the first team to have done so since the 1962 Boston Patriots. Additionally Buffalo lost just three games by a total of eight points and tied the franchise mark for wins in a season with 13 (along with the 1990, ’91 and 2020 teams).

Through three weeks the Bills are second in scoring, eighth in total yards, seventh in rushing and 12th in passing. They’re also first in third down rate and third in time of possession. In fact, Buffalo’s drive in the second quarter a week ago that resulted in a field goal lasted 9:47 – their longest drive since 2017 at the Atlanta Falcons (11:20).

LANDOVER, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Buffalo Bills catches the ball during the second half against the Washington Commanders at FedExField on September 24, 2023 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images)


STATS AND MUSINGS

  1. Allen has compiled 34 career regular season games with a passer rating of 100 or better and has reached that mark in 17 of his last 34 outings. In those games Buffalo’s record is 32-2.

  2. Only Steve Young has had more career regular season games (eight) with 300 or more passing yards and 50 or more rushing yards than Allen (seven). He’s also tied with Randall Cunningham, Steve Grogan and Jack Kemp for fourth all-time in games with a passing and rushing score (32), behind Aaron Rodgers (33), Young (36) and Cam Newton (64).

  3. Buffalo’s franchise quarterback has seven career games with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score – only Drew Brees and Tom Brady (nine) have more all-time. He also became the first signal-caller to throw for 250 yards, run for 50, toss three touchdowns, run for one, complete 80 percent of his throws (83.9 – a new club record in the regular season) and win a game in league history against the Rams in Week One last year. His completion percentage against the Raiders in Week Two was 83.8, the second-highest in team history.

  4. After throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns against Miami in Week 15, Allen has 13 career games with 300 yards and three scores. That broke a tie with Jim Kelly for the most in franchise history and he has passed Steve McNair and Tobin Rote for fourth all-time in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (behind Newton, Young and Kemp). He needs one more to tie Kemp for third, and has surpassed Singletary for 10th in team annals in rushing yards.

  5. Buffalo’s quarterback has defeated every team in the NFL at least once except three – Tampa Bay, Arizona and Philadelphia. Allen’s also become the only signal caller with 4,000 passing yards and 750 rushing yards in a season twice (he’s the only one to do so once).

  6. Diggs and Allen have connected for a touchdown 30 times, second on the Bills’ all-time list (Kelly and Andre Reed have 65). Diggs also tied Bill Brooks’ team record for touchdowns in a season (11), has moved past Jerry Butler for sixth in franchise history in scores and he and Stevie Johnson are the only Bills with three straight 1,000 yard seasons.

  7. Speaking of Diggs, he became the sixth player ever with 100 receptions and 1,200 receiving yards in three straight seasons – joining Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, Herman Moore, Antonio Brown and Michael Thomas. He’s also the first to do so in each of his first three years with one team and has three 100-yard receiving games with the Bills in the playoffs, joining Reed (five).

  8. Secondary target notes – Knox has moved past Riemersma for second in team annals with 21 receiving scores by a tight end. He’s behind only Metzelaars (25) and became the fifth Bill with five or more receiving scores in the playoffs all-time while also catching a touchdown in five straight games (only Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski have had longer streaks among tight ends). Meanwhile, Davis has the second-most receiving touchdowns in team playoff history (six), tying James Lofton. Reed had nine.

  9. Since 2017 the Bills are 51-7 when leading at halftime. They’ve also won 10 in a row at home against teams with a losing record.

  10. Miller is the first defensive player in league history to sign two contracts worth at least $100 million. He is also vying to be the second player to win a Super Bowl with three different teams (Matt Millen was the first), has moved past Robert Mathis for 19th on the all-time sack list and is two quarterback takedowns away from tying Dwight Freeney for 18th.

  11. Buffalo’s point differential was plus-169 in 2022 – the second-best in the NFL and second-best in franchise history (2021) – and recorded 5,000 yards of offense for the third time in team history, joining the 1991 and 1975 teams.

  12. After beating Rodgers, Mahomes and Lamar Jackson in 2022, according to Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports Allen became the first quarterback to defeat three former MVPs in a four-game span since Troy Aikman downed Dan Marino, Young and Brett Favre in 1996. He’s also the first signal caller to beat three former MVPs in one month since David Woodley in September 1981.

  13. The Bills have compiled a road winning percentage of .705 (24-10) since 2019. Conversely, Buffalo is 21-5 at home since 2020 and is 12-1 at home in December and beyond in their last 13 games.

  14. The Bills rushed for 100 yards in every game but one last year. They clinched a playoff berth for the fourth straight year, which tied the second-longest streak in franchise history (1963-66, six years from 1988-93 is the longest) and was the fifth time McDermott clinched a playoff berth, trailing just Marv Levy (eight) for the most. Buffalo also won a third straight AFC East title, which is their longest streak since 1988-91.

  15. McDermott’s record against the AFC East since 2017 is 23-14 – a winning percentage of .621. He also became the 11th coach all-time to make the playoffs five times in his first six years – joining Andy Reid (PHI), John Harbaugh (BAL), John Madden (OAK), Mike Holmgren (GB), John Robinson (LAR), Paul Brown (CLE), Dennis Green (MIN), Chuck Knox (LAR), George Seifert (49ers) and Bill Cowher (PIT).

  16. Buffalo hasn’t won a road playoff game since the 1992 AFC title game in Miami – they’re 0-7 since.

  17. Buffalo’s regular season record over the last three years with Allen is 39-13.

  18. Since 2020 the Bills’ record coming off a loss is 10-3.

  19. Allen has had five games with three or more turnovers since 2019. In the game following those outings, the Bills are 5-0.

  20. The Bills have scored 20 points or more in 12 straight home games and are 42-29 all-time in their blue jersey-white pants combination.

  21. McDermott is the third coach in Bills history to appear in 100 games with the franchise along with Levy and Lou Saban.

  22. Buffalo has won nine of their last 10 against the Dolphins including playoffs. Allen is now 9-2 in his career against Miami. He became the first quarterback with multiple touchdown passes against one opponent in each of his first 10 games against them (one more such game would break a record held by, ironically, Dan Marino) and became the only player in league history with 700-plus passing yards (704) and 100-plus rushing yards (124) against a team in one season.

  23. McDermott’s record against the Dolphins is now 11-2 including playoffs and Allen is 6-0 at home against the Dolphins.

  24. Tre White notched his 18th interception last week – tying him with Henry Jones and Mike Stratton for 15th in team history.

  25. Since 2020 Buffalo leads the NFL in scoring (29.4 points per game) and in points allowed (18.9 per game) and they have the best home record in the NFL in that span – 25-6 including playoffs.

  26. This weekend will also be just the third time in the last 18 years that the Dolphins will play in Buffalo in October.

  27. Although the Bills have owned Miami recently, the Dolphins may be catching up. All three of the games they played against one another a year ago were decided by three points or less, and Miami won the turnover battle in all three contests.

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