Here we go again. Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills. AFC East rivals, a pair of upstart teams that, in the most optimistic sense, could be contending with New England for the division title. Or, at the very least, you might think, battling each other for a wild-card berth.
"It's a big game," said left tackle Branden Albert, who will likely miss Sunday's game due to a hamstring injury, raising the degree of difficulty for the Dolphins.
"We all know the implications of the game."
For the Dolphins, who have yet to impose their will on an opponent, the implications go beyond the standings and to the very core of the team.
They were supposed to be a physical team led by their aggressive, playmaking defensive line. They were supposed to be able to run the ball. Neither has been the case through two games.
So when the Dolphins (1-1) host Buffalo (1-1) at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, it'll be more than the next game on the schedule.
The Dolphins need to establish a physical presence with their defensive line, control the ball with their running game, and pop a few big plays by spreading the field in the passing game.
"We're at home," defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said, "so we should protect our turf."
The Bills have owned the Dolphins in recent years. They've won four of their six matchups against Joe Philbin/Ryan Tannehill-led teams.
And now the Bills, who finished 9-7 last season, have added brash coach Rex Ryan and his exotic blitz packages.
"You bring in Rex and his style of defense to go along with the players that Buffalo has," Tannehill said, "and there's really a lot of talent on that team."
Ideally, the Dolphins will prove to themselves that the team that squeaked out a 17-10 victory at Washington and absorbed a disappointing 23-20 loss at Jacksonville isn't the real 2015 Dolphins.
However, statistics, especially the ones that hint at a team's physicality, say otherwise.
Through two games, the Dolphins are allowing 142 rushing yards per game, which ranks 27th in the NFL. And they are averaging just 58 rushing yards per game, 30th in the NFL.
Buffalo is the opposite. The Bills, led by running back LeSean McCoy, are second in rushing offense at 153.5 yards per game.
The Dolphins need to win this game, and they'd like to do so by being physical, and playing a game led by their defensive line of Suh, fellow tackle Earl Mitchell and ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon.
Buffalo, whose talented defensive line is at the heart of its team, will bring its physical, aggressive style.
"You expect that out of these games," center Mike Pouncey said. "These are rival games, they're division games. They're a little bit more intense than any other regular-season game.
"I know they'll be ready to play, and so will we."