Dolphins-Bills today

January 12, 1991

Site: Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y.

Line: Buffalo by 6 1/2 .

TV: Channels 2, 4, 12:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Buffalo won, 24-14, Dec. 23 and clinched the American Football Conference East title.

The series: Miami leads the series, 35-14-1. The teams split their two meetings this season. Buffalo clinched the title in the game mentioned above. But Miami routed Buffalo, 30-7, in the second game of the season.

On the sidelines: Miami coach Don Shula is in his 28th NFL season, his 21st with the Dolphins. Shula has a 297-136-6 overall record and is football's winningest active coach. He is second to George Halas (325) on the all-time win list. Marv Levy is in his fourth full season as head coach of the Bills, having guided them to the past two AFC East championships. He has a 43-27 record in Buffalo.

What the Bills have to do to win: Stop the Miami rushing attack and force Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino into passing situations and into the arms of the Bills' Bruce Smith.

What the Dolphins have to do to win: Stop Buffalo running back Thurman Thomas, who helped keep the Dolphins off balance with runs up the middle the last time the teams met. Miami also has to shut off the Bills' slant routes to their wide-outs when Buffalo enters the red zone (inside the 20-yard line).

Injuries: For Miami, LB John Offerdahl (foot), NT Shawn Lee (back), NT Alfred Oglesby (groin) are probable; CB Tim McKyer (heel) is questionable. For Buffalo, QB Jim Kelly (knee), DE Leon Seals (knee) are questionable; LB Ray Bentley (chest) is probable.

Outlook: Miami has to score, perhaps on its first two possessions, to take fans out of the game. Buffalo has the advantage because it is used to playing in cold weather. Another key factor is Kelly and how long it takes him to get back in synch with offense. One thing is certain, Marino, despite a slow start last week against Kansas City, was awesome in the fourth period. The Bills can't take too long to get rolling.

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