DATE: Sunday, Dec. 23
TIME: 1 p.m. ET
SITE: Sun Life Stadium
TV: CBS (Don Criqui, play-by-play; Randy Cross, analysis)
SERIES RECORD: Miami leads 56-40-1 (including playoffs)
AT MIAMI: Dolphins lead 31-16-1
AT BUFFALO: Teams are tied 24-24
AT TORONTO: Dolphins lead 1-0
LAST MEETING: 2012 at Buffalo; Bills 19, Dolphins 14
SERIES TREND: The Dolphins have had the upper hand of late, winning six of the last nine meetings. Buffalo will be looking for its first season sweep in the series since 2007.
SERIES HIGHLIGHT: The last time the Dolphins beat Buffalo at home in December was in 2005, and that game was one of the most memorable for the Dolphins in the last decade. After touchdown passes from JP Losman, who later would play for the Dolphins, to Lee Evans gave Buffalo a stunning 21-0 first-quarter lead, the Dolphins began clawing back. They completed the comeback in the final minute when Chris Chambers put the capper on a record-breaking day (team-record 15 catches for a then-record 238 yards) with a touchdown catch from Sage Rosenfels to give Miami a thrilling 24-23 victory.
BILLS’ RECORD: 5-9
LAST GAME: Lost vs. Seattle (at Toronto), 50-17
OVERVIEW: It has been another disappointing season for the Bills, who will miss the playoff for a 13th consecutive year. Buffalo started the season 2-1, but things started going downhill when a 21-7 third-quarter lead against New England in Week 4 turned into a discouraging 52-28 loss. Buffalo also squandered late leadsin losses to Tennessee and St. Louis.
THE BILLS’ STRENGTH ON OFFENSE: The Bills have a couple of dynamic playmakers in running back C.J. Spiller, who reached 1,000 yards on the season against Seattle Sunday, and wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who has 891 yards after gaining 115 yards on eight catches against Seattle.
THE BILLS’ QUESTION MARK ON OFFENSE: Buffalo has a lot of ability on offense, but the two biggest issues have been a propensity to turn the ball over (29 turnovers in 14 games) and a mediocre showing on third down (37.9 percent conversion rate).
THE BILLS’ STRENGTH ON DEFENSE: After a slow start, high-priced offseason acquisition Mario Williams has given the Bills the type of pass rushing they were expecting. He leads the team with 10.5 sacks. Safety Jairus Byrd also is someone to watch; he leads Buffalo with five interceptions.
THE BILLS’ QUESTION MARK ON DEFENSE: Until they were gashed by Seattle last Sunday, the Bills had been very good against the run for a month. Starting with the first Dolphins-Bills matchup, Buffalo held four consecutive opponents to under 90 yards rushing and an average of 3 yards per carry or less. But looking over the whole season, Buffalo has struggled at stopping the run, ranking 30th in rushing yards per game allowed and dead last in yards per rushing attempt allowed.
THE BILLS’ STRENGTH ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Dolphins fans know pretty well what’s coming here — the Bills return game, specifically Leodis McKelvin, is dangerous. McKelvin has three returns for touchdowns this season, including a 79-yarder against the Dolphins back on Nov. 15. Kicker Rian Lindell also has been close to perfect this season, with a 20-for-21 showing on field goal attempt — although he doesn’t have great range.
THE BILLS’ QUESTION MARK ON SPECIAL TEAMS: As good as Buffalo’s return game has been this season, its ability to cover kicks has been just as bad. The Bills have given up three returns for touchdowns — two on punts and one on a kickoff — and ranks last in the league in punt return average allowed.