The Miami Dolphins will look to make it two in a row against AFC East opponents when they face the Buffalo Bills in their home opener at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
Ahead of the matchup, we examine the five biggest storylines:
1. CAN THE DOLPHINS STOP JOSH ALLEN?
It truly is remarkable how much success John Allen has had against the Dolphins since he entered the NFL as a first-round pick in 2018. After rushing for 135 yards in his first game against Miami when the Dolphins escaped with a 21-17 victory, Allen has produced five games with a passer rating above 110 and led the Bills to wins in all those games. If the Dolphins don't do a better job against him in this game, they have no shot.
2. DEFENSE ON TAKEAWAY TEAR
The Dolphins have a 14-9 record over their past 23 games, and it's probably not a coincidence that they have at least one takeaway in all of those games. Xavien Howard's late fumble recovery played a huge part in the season-opening victory at New England, and it's likely the Dolphins defense will need to create some turnovers to win this game. It should be pointed out, though, that the last team to face the Dolphins without committing a turnover was those same Buffalo Bills, who did while defeating Miami 37-20 on Nov. 24, 2019.
3. REDEMPTION DAY FOR DEFENSE
As one would expect, Dolphins defensive players downplayed the idea of wanting to redeem themselves after the collapse in Buffalo in the 2020 season finale when the Bills hung 56 on Miami — after being shut out in the first quarter. But one can't help but think that it had to serve as extra motivation — as if any more were needed — for this early-season AFC East showdown.
4. THE SOUTH FLORIDA HEAT
There once was a time when the Dolphins enjoyed tremendous success at home in the early part of the season, and some of it always was attributed to the South Florida heat, which can be daunting for teams from the Northeast. But there also was something to be said for the Dolphins have really good teams during those years, and the hope certainly is that the present Dolphins can prove they have the talent to maximize whatever advantage the weather provides them because of their familiarity with those elements.
5. ROUND 2 FOR THE OFFENSE
The Dolphins offense put together two really good touchdown drives in the victory at New England, but didn't produce a whole lot outside of that. And that clearly won't be good enough against a Buffalo team looking to rebound on offense after being stifled by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The onus is on everybody, starting with Tua Tagovailoa and the offensive line, to produce a more consistent offensive performance against the Bills to leave Hard Rock Stadium with a win.