Dolphins vs. Bills 2012 game preview: Buffalo hosts Miami as both teams try to keep postseason hopes afloat

Rick Stewart

The Bills and Dolphins each need a win on Thursday night to keep any hopes of the postseason from slipping further away.

Losers of a combined five straight games, the Buffalo Bills host their AFC East division rival Miami Dolphins on Thursday night in a contest each team needs to win in order to stop losing skids and keep themselves alive the conference playoff picture.

This is their first meeting of the season, as the Dolphins have split their season series with the New York Jets in their only divisional contests to this point. Buffalo, on the other hand, is 0-3 in the AFC East following a 37-31 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 10 that secured the series sweep for New England. Additionally, the Bills lost in their season-opener, 48-28, to the Jets.

Meet the Buffalo Bills

After starting the season 2-1, the Bills have dropped five of their last six games, their last victory coming in a Week 6 overtime defeat of the Arizona Cardinals, 19-16. Allowing an average of 410.0 yards per game, Buffalo's defense ranks 31st in the league; their 31.7 average points per game allowed is last in the NFL.

With running back Fred Jackson being ruled out for Thursday's contest with a concussion, the other half of the league's sixth-ranked rushing duo (averaging 143.1 yards per game), C.J. Spiller, could see the bulk of the carries. For the season, Spiller has 632 yards on the ground with four touchdowns, averaging 7.3 yards per carry.

Meet the Miami Dolphins

Miami has lost two in a row after reeling off three consecutive victories, dropping them to eighth in the current AFC playoff standings. The Dolphins were blown out of the water in Week 10 by the Tennessee Titans at home, 37-3, in which the league's fifth-best rushing defense (allowing 94.2 yards on the ground per game) allowed the Titans to pick up 177 rushing yards.

At 2-3 on the road this season, Miami will need a better showing from rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw three interceptions and posted a 42.4 quarterback rating against Tennessee. For the season, he has thrown for 1,979 yards -- completing 58.9 percent of his passes -- along with five touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Local Takes: Bills

Matt Warren from Buffalo Rumblings says the playoffs still aren't out of the question for the Bills:

"After the division leaders, nine teams are within three games of the playoffs. As Buffalo enters the "easy" part of their schedule, facing only one defense ranked in the top half of the league (Seattle) along the way, they can still claim a legitimate shot at the post-season."

Local Takes: Dolphins

Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider says that Miami's defense needs to return to being the strength of the team:

"Miami simply looked flat this week. While the offense did a lot of things wrong this week as well, that's a unit led by a rookie quarterback, who is going to make mistakes. The defense, meanwhile, is a veteran unit, who has pride. They look each week to shut down the run and get pressure on the quarterback. Even with the questions in the secondary, the defense is supposed to be the strength of the team. Not if they keep playing like this."

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Buffalo Rumblings and The Phinsider, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@BuffRumblings

@thephinsider

@ByTimGraham - Writer for the Buffalo News.

@BenVolinPBP - Dolphins/NFL writer for The Palm Beach Post.

Prediction

Example: From the Week 8 picks:

NEEDS TO BE DONE.

Odds

According to OddsShark, the line opened this week at even odds and for the most part remains there, though some sites have the Bills favored anywhere between one and two points. The over/under point total for the contest is set at 45½.

Next Week

In Week 12, Buffalo heads to Indianapolis to take on Andrew Luck and the Colts on Sunday afternoon. The Dolphins, meanwhile, host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

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