In week one of the NFL regular season, two division rivals meet as the Miami Dolphins visit the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo.
Vegas odds have placed the Dolphins as 3-point favorites as the road team. Both teams have done well against the spread in similar situations in 2009. The Dolphins, as road favorites, were 5-3 against the spread (ATS) on the road while the Bills were 6-5 as home underdogs ATS so this game could be tricky to predict.
The two teams split their season series last year with each team winning in the other’s home stadium. Buffalo heads into the season with some new components on the offensive side of the ball. The Bills finished 30th in passing and quarterback Trent Edwards is back at the helm. He seems more poised and has been effective in the preseason. At running back, C. J. Spiller has taken the starting role and has produced big plays in the preseason. Edwards and company will look to establish the running game early and look for big plays down the field with receiver Lee Evans. The Dolphins feature an attacking defense with playmakers in linebackers Channing Crowder, Karlos Dansby, and a talented secondary. Either Sean Smith and Vontae Davis will match-up against Evans and Edwards. The Dolphins are hoping Dansby provides a jolt in the pass rush with first-round draft pick Jared Odrick, and should find success against an average Bills’ offensive line.
Defensively, the Bills couldn’t stop anyone from running but found success playing take away in their secondary. CBs Terrence McGee and Leodis McKelvin create big plays and give-up big plays. The front seven is soft, though, and the Dolphins can expose the Bills with their two-headed monster of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams at running back. Linebacker Paul Posluszny is back from injury and could provide some backbone to a defense that 30th against the run.
The Dolphins are operating with a different offensive mind-set with quarterback Chad Henne, a pure pocket passer, installed at quarterback and receiver Brandon Marshall, a big-time receiver, acquired in the off-season. They plan to run less Wildcat formations and more pro-style sets in 2010. The Dolphins will need to take time to adjust to the Henne-Marshall connection.
The Bills and Dolphins are a close match-up on paper, on the field, and in Vegas so this game could be a toss-up.
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