The Buffalo Bills face a critical juncture in their National Football League season.
Their opponent, the Miami Dolphins, may be winless, but don’t try convincing the Bills things will come easy.
“They’re a talented 0-3 football team, and we’re going to have our hands full,” quarterback Trent Edwards said.
In addition to playing a team that beat them twice last year, the Bills have the added burden of not having won a game within the AFC East since beating the Dolphins in December 2007.
Miami’s surprising 2008 season has been followed by a major letdown in 2009. Starting quarterback Chad Pennington has been lost for the season, forcing rookie Chad Henne to make his first NFL start.
Edwards alluded to the fact that despite their tough beginning, the Dolphins have faced three very good offenses the first three weeks.
“Jason Taylor and Joey Porter outside are veteran guys that know how to beat offensive tackles,” Edwards said of the Dolphins’ two Pro Bowl linebackers.
Henne is still the key for a Miami offence that has failed to generate many big plays this season. In two of their three losses, the Dolphins have scored just one touchdown.
The second-year pro out of Michigan has been touted as the eventual successor to Pennington, but has been a forgotten man after the starter was named Comeback Player of the Year and the club drafted Pat White out of West Virginia.
Last week, the Bills found their own offensive troubles, as the Saints limited Buffalo to just seven points and held potent wide receiver Terrell Owens without a catch for the first time in 186 games.
Owens has been tight-lipped this week after making some questionable comments following the Saints game, reiterating he’s simply “going with the plays that are called.”
Those plays did involve Owens having five passes thrown in his direction, but Edwards struggled with the deep ball and the Bills had only 243 yards of total offence.
Running back Marshawn Lynch will return from a three-game suspension and is expected to split time with Fred Jackson, who had a career-best 163 yards rushing two weeks ago.
The Bills already find themselves looking up in the division at the New York Jets (3-0) and New England Patriots (2-1), meaning a loss would knot them in a last-place tie with Miami.
Injuries have begun to pile up, as Buffalo likely will be without starting defensive backs Leodis McKelvin and Donte Whitner and linebacker Paul Posluszny.
“Everybody in the league has injuries, and somehow you gotta get through them,” head coach Dick Jauron said.