MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — — Two games into the season, the Super Bowl appears to be an attainable goal for the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills return mostly the same offense that just fell to Kansas City in a divisional-round thriller last year and have upgraded their defensive front with additions including Von Miller. They looked like one of the best teams in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season thanks to convincing wins over the defending champion Rams and the Titans, last year’s No. 1 AFC seed.
Here’s a Miami Dolphins team that looks to be an AFC contender behind their confident first-year head coach and electric offensive weapons.
“The Buffalo Bills won the division and did an incredible job in all three phases,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said, “so what’s best for the Miami Dolphins, this is a young team that’s really invested and they’re very eager to play . football, what better opportunity than to play better and see where you are?’
The Bills (2-0) and Dolphins (2-0) enter Sunday’s game in South Florida with two of the top performances so far this season, but Buffalo has dominated the series in recent years.
The Bills have won the last seven meetings and beat the Dolphins 35-0 in Week 2 last year.
However, this is not the same Miami team that Buffalo has faced in years past. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle have been a tough receiving duo to stop, mainly because opposing defenders have been unable to catch them.
Hill leads the NFL in receptions with 284. He has 19 receptions and two touchdowns. Waddle has 16 receptions, 240 yards and three touchdowns.
“We’ve faced both of them before, but now they’re on the same field,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “I’ve always thought they’ve been a talented football team the last couple of years, against Miami that is, and now adding Tyreek Hill to that mix, they’ve got a ton of playmakers on that team.”
As good as the Bills have been behind Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and their weapons, Buffalo hasn’t gotten through the first two weeks of the season without adversity.
The Bills have a rash of injuries in their secondary, including neck injuries to safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Dane Jackson. Rookie cornerbacks Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford could take on the task of lining up against Waddle and Hill.
“The production they gave us, the plays weren’t too big for them,” Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said of Elam and Benford. “So if it comes down to it, where they both have to start, we’d be confident in both of them out there for sure. “
“THIS IS A BUILDING”
Josh Allen’s rocket arm and tough-to-tackle frame have given teams matchups.
He passed for 317 yards and four touchdowns against Tennessee, his fifth game with at least four touchdowns and no interceptions since 2020. He is fourth in the NFL in total passing yards with 614.
“He’s a beast. I don’t know what else to say about him,” Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa said. “I mean the guy runs the ball when he needs to, extends plays with his feet. He can get the ball up the court and gives the ball to his playmakers.”
The Bills are 3-0 against Tagovailoa, including what turned out to be his brief start in a 35-0 win last September. Tagovailoa completed one of four attempts for 13 yards on two drives before being forced out with a rib injury suffered when he was hit by Buffalo’s AJ Epenesa.
Tagovailoa’s best performance against Buffalo came in a 52-26 loss in the 2020 season finale against several of the Bills’ backups. He was 35 of 58 for 361 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions.
FINS MEET PHILLIPS
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips never panned out in Miami, where he was a second-round pick in 2015. Released by Miami in 2018, he was immediately claimed by the Bills, where he blossomed into a regular before signing a three-year deal with Arizona as a free agent in 2020.
Phillips returns to Buffalo after signing a one-year deal this offseason and is already playing a disruptive role as part of a revamped defensive front.
“We’re not surprised by his production and the impact he’s had,” Frazier said.
SUNDAY PRIVATE VOLUME
The Bills finally get a chance to play on Sunday, no less, after opening the season with two prime-time road trips.
Buffalo played in the NFL season opener, beating the Los Angeles Rams 31-10 on Sept. 8, then had to wait 11 days before beating the Titans 41-7 on Monday night. Currently, the Bills are scheduled to play seven more games at 1 p.m.
McDermott adjusted to the short week by doing an intermediate session on Wednesday before Thursday’s first practice.