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Notes ahead of Dolphins’ important Week 3 matchup with the Bills

It’s hardly a debate that the Miami Dolphins have the franchise’s biggest Week 3 contest on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Both AFC East teams sit at 2-0, and only one other team in their conference can say the same – the Kansas City Chiefs.

While Miami triumphed last week on the strength of an amazing come-from-behind victory against the Baltimore Ravens, the real test will be this Bills matchup.

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Miami has lost seven straight to the Bills with their last win coming back in 2018. The Dolphins have also won their last seven home games, so one of these streaks will end Sunday, barring, of course, the dreading “T” word.

In the history of both franchises, the Dolphins lead the series 61-54-1 with a  60-51-1 regular season record. A win on Sunday would give the Dolphins their first 3-0 start since 2018 and the 15th time in franchise history.

Not only that, it would put Miami at 3-0 within the AFC Conference and 2-0 in the AFC East heading into a primetime Thursday night game against the so-far-underwhelming Cincinnati Bengals, who currently sit at 0-2.

The Dolphins are riding into this Week 3 game on a wave unseen in South Florida since the days of Dan Marino and the Marks Brothers. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa joined Hall of Famers Marino and Bob Griese in the six-touchdown-in-a-game club.

Tagovailoa’s remarkable performance last week against the Ravens earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, and that came with a group sliming during Wednesday’s practice by his overjoyed teammates.

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are ranked one and three, respectively, in the NFL this season in receiving yardage. They’ve also already combined for five touchdowns.

Hill’s performance against Baltimore marked the fourth time in Hill’s career that he had at least 10 receptions, 150 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in a game. According to NFL Research, only Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice has done that previously.

Waddle has been outstanding, averaging 16.0 yards per reception, which brings a new dimension to his game, as his 2021 seasonal average was 9.8. He’s also already halfway to matching his rookie touchdown total of six.

It’s this trio that must keep pace with Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and the Bills’ potent offense. Defensively, the Bills have been nearly as impressive, handling the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and cruising to victory last Monday against the Tennessee Titans.

It should be noted that, in the history of these teams, the Bills and Dolphins’ record for total points in a game is 82. And, while we are on records, the highest receptions and yardage total by a Dolphin against the Bills is Chris Chambers. If you’re curious about Hill or Waddle’s chances, Chambers’ reception record is 15 and 238 yards against Buffalo back in 2005.

Additionally, the Dolphins should be featuring tight end Mike Gesicki more as the season progresses. The preseason storyline was that of his limitation in the blocking game, but Gesicki has performed admirably in that facet of the game, but his bread and butter is his ability for red-zone offense.

In one of the better throws of the week, Tagovailoa found Gesicki in the back of the end zone to start the second-half comeback at Baltimore. Gesicki, who was franchised tagged during the offseason, has been handling his unique situation like a pro, and his Week 2 production in all areas gives him momentum leading into the Bills game.

Gesicki’s has done more damage against the Bills than any other team, recording 28 receptions and 343 yards against Buffalo. With this game likely going to need four quarters of heavy offense, it happens to be the last frame where Gesicki shined last season. He was among the most productive tight ends in the fourth quarter, something he’s proven as a trend in his career.

The Penn State product also had set a single-game career-high for yardage against the Bills in 2020, hauling in eight passes for 130 yards and a score. Expect a heavy dose of Gesicki, as, in this game, coach Mike McDaniel will need his receiving skills more than his blocking.

Switching over to the defensive side of the ball, Miami must figure out a way to keep Allen from seamlessly moving the ball upfield, and defensive coordinator Josh Boyer unit’s certainly has their work cut out for them.

Even as the defense bent plenty last week, they weren’t broken and came up with timely stops when desperately needed. The yardage and point totals could be a defensive nightmare on both sides Sunday, but if Miami could get an opportunistic turnover or fourth-down stop, that swing of momentum could help them, regardless of any gaudy offensive output, which, at this point, is simply expected by the Bills.

The game is still a few days away, but the hype’s at a fever pitch for Dolphins fans around the globe. Hard Rock Stadium should be packed Sunday, as there’s no question this is the biggest home game in this stadium since the place was renovated into the impressive venue it is now.

The Dolphins and Bills kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET in what could very well be the game of the week across the league.