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Bills’ Allen shares tips for cold before prime-time game vs. Dolphins

The best insight into how the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills are preparing for Saturday’s AFC East prime-time matchup this week: Their wardrobe.  

Dolphins first-year coach Mike McDaniel rolled up his sweatpants and wore a t-shirt reading, “I wish it was colder” as Miami dropped the temperature in their indoor practice facility.

As for the Bills, defensive end Shaq Lawson took his preparation to another level, wearing a hefty grey parka under his practice jersey to stay warm.

Hey, to each their own.

The Bills (10-3) host the Dolphins (8-5) on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET in Orchard Park, New York, ending an NFL tripleheader (Colts at Vikings, 1 p.m. and Ravens at Browns at 4:30 p.m.), where the elements are likely to take center stage.

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The National Weather Service in Buffalo issued a lake effect snow warning for the area, where 3 to 7 inches of snow are possible for Friday, and another 3-5 inches are possible for Saturday’s game. They estimate 18-22 inches of snow could hit the area from Friday to Monday.

“It could be snowing. It could rain. I don’t know. I think for me at least, I can speak for myself, it’s a mindset thing,” Dolphins starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said.

Hopefully, Tagovailoa paid attention to Josh Allen’s press conference after Bills practice this week, where the fifth-year Buffalo starter revealed some helpful tips.

Some things Allen has learned over the years to play in a frozen tundra:   

– A limited warmup time in the cold.

– Wearing long sleeves, of course, and “wearing some under stuff just to keep that warmth up.”

– A quirky one: “Icy Hot stuff on your toes to try to keep the circulation going down there,” he said.

– And an obvious one: Staying on the heated benches and keeping your hands in the hand warmers as much as possible.

“Playing in December in Buffalo is not the easiest task to do,” said Allen, who is 4-2 in games starting with freezing temperatures, his last coming earlier this year against the Patriots in a wild card playoff game.

“But it’s cold for them and it’s cold for us. We get to practice in it. That’s one advantage that we get, and it’s something that we’ve played in before. So, we have to use it.”

One of Buffalo’s three losses this season came against the Dolphins in Miami, where Allen rested his head on Tagovailoa’s shoulder when they hugged postgame after the Bills offense was exhausted after 90 plays in the sweltering heat.

“It’s a little ironic,” Allen said when asked about Buffalo’s weather advantage coming into play this time around against Miami.

It might not be as much snow as when the Buffalo area saw more than 80 inches of snow last month, forcing the Bills to move a Nov. 20 home game against the Cleveland Browns to Detroit.

But yes, the weather is still very much a storyline for this game.

Even more so for the Dolphins.

Tagovailoa and the Dolphins (8-5) are in the roughest patch of their schedule, heading to Buffalo after losses on the road to the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers. They are second in the AFC East and slipped to sixth in the playoff picture.

The Dolphins suffered a 56-26 loss in Buffalo to end Tagovailoa’s rookie season during a cold affair. He also struggled during a cold, wet loss against the Tennessee Titans last January that didn’t help Miami’s faint chance to reach the playoffs.

To gain some experience, Tagovailoa said he threw during the cold while visiting his brother, Taulia, who plays for the University of Maryland, earlier this year. He also made use of dipping in cold tubs during the Dolphins’ California trip last week.

“I just try anything and everything that I can,” Tagovailoa said.

A win in Buffalo would do wonders for Miami’s playoff hopes with four games left in the season. But a loss puts the pressure on Tagovailoa and the Dolphins in their final three games (vs. Packers, at Patriots, vs. Jets) to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016, and just the third time since 2001. 

Tagovailoa is also on a two-game slump, where his QBR dropped to second in the NFL at 73.5 after posting a 20.2 QBR against the 49ers and 24.5 against the Chargers.

And in those cold-weather games, his QBR was much worse: Tagovailoa posted a 15.7 in his first game at Buffalo in 2020, and 10.0 against the Titans.

“The next play mentality definitely needs to show itself more evident for us with the way we play offensively,” Tagovailoa said coming off his bad stretch in California.

“Because of the success that we found early in the year, we really haven’t been given that opportunity. And so kind of given the two losses that we had to endure, that’s an opportunity for us to kind of continue to preach that and work through that throughout these practices and leading up to the game.”

The Bills are 10-3, ahead of Miami in the division, and every other team in the AFC picture, with hopes of holding off the Chiefs (10-3) and surging Bengals (9-4) for home-field advantage in the playoffs, thanks in part to going 3-0 during their tough stretch playing the Browns, Lions and Patriots in 12 days.

Allen and the Bills say they don’t have revenge on their mind, but a win against Miami could help them clinch a playoff berth with three games remaining.

“We’re taking it one game at a time, and it happens to be against a division rival we’ve already lost to this year,” Allen said. “We’re working on putting our best foot forward in practice this week, and put together a good game plan to execute on Saturday night.”

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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