|NFL Week 14: Dolphins at Bills Preview, Matchup, Picks & Odds|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Thursday, 06 December 2007 03:06|
The Miami Dolphins are marching toward football ignominy, but remain surprisingly upbeat about it.
With just four regular-season games left, the winless Dolphins (0-12) try once again to notch their first win of 2007 when they meet the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Buffalo -7 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 36.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 76% of bets for this game have been placed on Buffalo -7 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Miami has dropped three straight to Buffalo, including a 13-10 home loss on Nov. 11. The Dolphins also have lost three straight and 14 of 20 at Ralph Wilson Stadium since 1987.
While Miami is trying to avoid joining the 0-14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 as the only NFL teams to go through a season winless, Dolphins players have stayed positive.
"You see the camaraderie that goes on in the locker room - the dominoes, the friendly card games, the yukking it up,'' Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor said. "We're probably closer right now than we have been in a long time, just because of the adversity we're going through.
"You draw closer to the guys you know have your back. The fans aren't as receptive to you right now. The media are doing their jobs and going to be harsh. All you really have is your family at home, and your family here. I think we're closer here through 0-12 than we have been in a long time.''
Miami's best chance for a win may have been last week. The Dolphins took a 13-10 lead over the New York Jets midway through the second quarter after cornerback Michael Lehan returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown. But they failed to score after that and suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season, 40-13.
Following this contest, Miami will sandwich home games against Baltimore and Cincinnati around a visit to unbeaten New England. Heading into Sunday's games, the Ravens and Bengals are a combined 8-16.
The 1972 Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to complete a perfect season, going 14-0 in the regular season and winning all three postseason contests including a 14-7 triumph over Washington in Super Bowl VII.
On Sunday, Miami will play its first game without linebacker Zach Thomas, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday due to recurring migraines. Linebackers Joey Porter (shoulder) and Channing Crowder (foot) and tackle Vernon Carey (back) all missed practice Wednesday.
After allowing 92 points in losses the previous two weeks, Buffalo rallied for a 17-16 win last Sunday over a drained Washington team that was playing its first game since safety Sean Taylor was slain in a botched robbery attempt at his home five days earlier.
Rian Lindell kicked his fifth field goal of the game, a 36-yarder with 4 seconds left for the winning margin as the Bills preserved their slim playoff hopes. But it took a major mistake by Washington Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs to allow Buffalo (6-6) to reach .500.
Lindell connected on a 51-yard attempt that didn't count because Gibbs called timeout as the ball was snapped. Gibbs then called another timeout as Lindell lined up a second time. Consecutive timeouts, though, aren't allowed in the NFL - and they result in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when specifically called to freeze the kicker.
"It's unfortunate that one of those teams had to lose on this day," Bills coach Dick Jauron said.
Lindell's winning kick also was his 17th straight successful field goal, tying Steve Christie's franchise record set in 1994.
Bills rookie running back Marshawn Lynch hasn't played since last month's win over the Dolphins due to an ankle injury, but could be back for this game. Jauron said Wednesday that Lynch has shown significant progress in practice.
"I don't know if he'll play yet because we've got to see how he tolerates the practices. But he's much better than he was," Jauron said.
Lynch, who leads the Bills with 751 rushing yards and six touchdowns despite missing three games, was originally told by doctors that he could miss up to eight weeks with a high ankle sprain.
The Bills have lost two of three since Lynch was hurt, but are only one win behind Cleveland and Tennessee for the AFC's second and final wild-card berth.
In a series that was dominated for years by Hall of Fame quarterbacks Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, two rookie signal-callers will face each other for the first time as Buffalo's Trent Edwards meets Miami's John Beck.
Edwards was 22 of 36 for a career-high 257 yards in the win over the Redskins. In five starts, Edwards has completed 67.2 percent of his passes (92-of-137) for 950 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.
In three starts Beck has yet to throw for a touchdown, has been picked off three times and is averaging 139.3 passing yards.
The Dolphins and Minnesota are tied for 29th with eight passing TDs this season. Buffalo is last in the league with six.
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