- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Disappointed as he feels over letting down fans because of the Bills’ inconsistent start, coach Rex Ryan insists the outlook isn’t as bad as it might appear.

“I get it. I certainly understand where you’re coming from, where fans will be coming from, the disappointments and all that stuff,” Ryan said. “But for us, everything that we want is still in front of us. We have nine games left. You know, the sky is not falling.”

It just seems that way for the Bills (3-4), who have lost two straight - three in a row at home - in falling well short of matching Ryan’s brash boasts when he took over in January.

If there will be a turnaround, it must begin Sunday, when Buffalo comes out of its bye week to host the Miami Dolphins (3-4) in a key midseason showdown for both AFC East rivals.

It’s no different for the underperforming Dolphins. They have endured major bumps of their own, lowlighted by coach Joe Philbin getting fired following a 1-3 start.

On the bright side, Miami has begun showing signs of resurgence under interim coach Dan Campbell and his tough-minded approach. The Dolphins won their first two games under Campbell before regressing in a 36-7 loss to New England on Oct. 29.

Against Buffalo, the Dolphins have a chance to re-establish their footing, and show they’re not the same pushover they were in a 41-14 home-opening loss to the Bills on Sept. 27.

“We’re not going to talk about it. We’re just going to show up on Sunday and play a game, and they’ll see after the game if we’re the same team,” Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon said, recalling the loss to Buffalo. “I feel like coming up to Buffalo this week is pretty much right now a win-or-die-type game.”

Some things to look for as the Dolphins attempt to end a three-game skid at Orchard Park:

NO WAKE ZONE: The Dolphins will be minus star pass rusher Cameron Wake, who will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his left Achilles tendon against New England. It’s a huge blow to a defense that was finally showing signs of playing to its high-priced potential by generating 12 of its 13 sacks in its past three games.

End Derrick Shelby and linebacker Chris McCain are being pegged to fill in for Wake, who had a team-best seven sacks.

WELCOME BACK: The Bills are getting healthier. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is set to reclaim his starting job after missing two games with a sprained left knee. Taylor had a season-best 277 yards passing and three touchdowns, and the Bills gained a season-best 428 yards against Miami.

Rookie backup running back Karlos Williams, who had a season-high 110-yards rushing against Miami, is set to return after missing three games with a concussion. Receiver Sammy Watkins has a chance to play after missing three of the past four games with an assortment of injuries.

Cornerback Leodis McKelvin is expected to be activated after missing the first seven games with a broken right foot.

DAN’S THE MAN: The Dolphins have responded to Campbell’s more physical approach. They’ve had 443 yards rushing in the past three games after managing just 277 in their first four. On defense, Miami’s allowed 229 yards rushing under Campbell after giving up 642 under Philbin.

Bills guard Richie Incognito, who previously played for the Dolphins, has noticed the difference.

“They’ve playing with a lot more passion,” Incognito said. “They’re playing like how I thought that they would play at the beginning of the season.”

REMATCH: Very little went right for the Dolphins in their first meeting against Buffalo.

Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions, including linebacker Preston Brown returning one for a touchdown, in the first half as Buffalo built a 27-0 lead. The Dolphins allowed 428 yards offense even though the Bills lost Watkins (calf) and starting running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) to injuries in the first half.

“I feel like that wasn’t us,” Vernon said.

DAUNTING STRETCH: The Bills open a difficult stretch in which they’ll face three straight division rivals, two in a span of five days. After hosting Miami, Buffalo travels to the New York Jets on Thursday - Ryan’s return to the Meadowlands. Then comes a Monday night game on Nov. 23 at New England, where the Bills had lost 13 straight before a meaningless season-ending win last year.

Add to that, after Sunday, the Bills will play five of six on the road.

___

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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