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Dolphins vs. Bills: 3 Must-Watch Matchups

Will RT Tyson Clabo be able to keep QB Ryan Tannehill upright versus Bills DE Mario Williams?

The Dolphins-Bills rivalry has lost its intensity over the years, as both franchises have endured a prolonged run of mediocrity.

But that’s not to say this won’t be an extremely pivotal game for the Dolphins on Sunday, who need to be able to knock off the injury-riddled Bills at home if they hope to emerge as a serious contender in 2013.

Here are three matchups to keep an eye on in Week 7:

Jonathan Martin and Tyson Clabo vs. Mario Williams

Defensive end Mario Williams will rush from both sides of the Bills’ defensive line on Sunday, which means he’ll have the opportunity to tee off on each of the Dolphins’ struggling tackles.

Left tackle Jonathan Martin and right tackle Tyson Clabo have each given up six sacks on the season. Williams, meanwhile, has already produced eight sacks in six games, which puts him on pace to accumulate 21 at year’s end.

Of course, it will be difficult for Williams to maintain that near record-breaking pace for the duration of the year, but chances are he will be able to on Sunday versus a Dolphins’ offensive line that has allowed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to be sacked an inexcusable 24 times in only five games.

If Miami can give Tannehill time in the pocket, there are big plays to be had throwing against a Buffalo secondary that has conceded 270.8 passing yards per contest so far this season. But it all starts with containing Mario Williams — a tall order for two underwhelming tackles.

Mike Wallace vs. Leodis McKelvin

Starting cornerback Leodis McKelvin has been solid in coverage this season for the Bills, but he’s coming off of a rough outing versus the Bengals. Quarterback Andy Dalton was able to victimize McKelvin for two touchdown strikes in Buffalo’s three-point loss to Cincinnati in Week 6.

McKelvin will look to bounce back in Miami while being matched up with wide receiver Mike Wallace throughout Sunday’s game. Wallace had his second 100-yard game of the season versus the Ravens in Week 5, but he’s still dropping too many balls and quarterback Ryan Tannehill has seemingly yet to develop a necessarily level of rapport with his $60 million target.

The timing on Tannehill’s deep throws to Wallace still seems a bit off, although the two were finally able to connect deep downfield for a 49-yard completion against Baltimore. I expect the Dolphins to continue attempting to get Wallace involved early, though, which was the game plan in Week 5.

Look for offensive coordinator Mike Sherman to dial up some quick screens to Wallace against the Bills, whose defensive backs really struggled to get off blocks on screen plays against the Bengals.

Cameron Wake vs. Erik Pears

There is a strong chance that All-Pro defensive end Cameron Wake will return to the lineup this week for the Dolphins after missing most of their past three games with an MCL sprain.

During those three games, the Dolphins’ pass rush has only been able to generate a combined four sacks. With Wake at 100 percent in Cleveland and Indianapolis, however, the Dolphins were able to sack the quarterback a combined nine times.

Needless to say, Miami could use its most dominant defensive player back on the field to get after the passer and open up opportunities for other rushers to do the same. Wake will face a pretty solid right tackle on Sunday in Buffalo’s Erik Pears, though.

Pears has consistently graded out as one of the better pass protectors in football and has only allowed one sack so far this season, according to Pro Football Focus. The Bills, as a whole, have struggled to keep their quarterbacks upright this season and have allowed a combined nine sacks in their past two outings. But Pears hasn’t been to blame.

There isn’t a tackle in the entire NFL a healthy Cameron Wake doesn’t have the ability to humble, though. It should be interesting to see if Wake is able to return to form after a week’s rest during Miami’s bye.

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4 Responses to “Dolphins vs. Bills: 3 Must-Watch Matchups”

  1. Fins_Swag says:

    Love the idea of more screen passes to Wallace. I don’t think Sherman has called another one since Wallace scored a 20 yard TD vs the Colts on a screen.

  2. joselpacheco says:

    Screen passes,what he’s getting played 60m dollars to catch screen,that’s the plan tannehill better start rolling left or right and go deep to hartline and Wallace that’s the way you win games!!!!!!

    • Fins_Swag says:

      Wallaces only TD this season came after a screen pass so….yeah. This isn’t madden 25, you can’t go deep every play. Short stuff underneath is a great way to set up the long bomb and getting Wallace the ball in space is never a bad idea with his speed.

  3. joselpacheco says:

    Yeah you’re right but I still like the deep ball

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