Reggie Bush could learn something from C.J. Spiller


Thursday night's game between the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills features two AFC teams fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive in a watered-down wild-card race. Who wins might come down to which team has the better backfield.

Reggie Bush's benching against the Titans was nothing new

More than a few headlines popped up after Dolphins coach Joe Philbin sat Bush for much of last week's loss to the Tennessee Titans. But Bush's time on the bench wasn't a new development.

Daniel Thomas has taken more snaps than Bush over the last three games, according to FootballOutsiders' snap-count numbers. And the knee injury that bothered Bush early in the season has nothing do with his diminishing playing time.

Bush has looked healthy since the Dolphins' bye -- remember that nasty jump cut he made on a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts? The Dolphins just seem to prefer Thomas on the field, especially on passing downs.

Maybe it's Bush's fumbling. Maybe it's Bush's pass blocking. Maybe the Dolphins are just trying to keep Bush healthy. But he's no longer close to an every-down back.

C.J. Spiller is the guy Reggie Bush was supposed to be

To put it another way: C.J. Spiller finally is the guy C.J. Spiller was supposed to be. He's electric in the open field. He leads the NFL in yards per carry with a 7.3 average. He has averaged 10.9 yards per reception; that's a number you'd expect from a wide receiver.

Fred Jackson has been one of my favorite players during the past five years and one of the most underrated. But the Bills' coaching staff has been doing opponents a favor by playing Jackson so much this season. Spiller has played less than half of his team's snaps in six of the last seven games. That will change on "Thursday Night Football" because of Jackson's injury.

I'm not saying Jackson's concussion is a good thing for the Bills. Their offense needs as many dynamic players as it can get. But this is one of the least explosive offenses in football. It's all dink and dunk. It has been maddening to see their most explosive player on the bench so much.

Thursday, Dec. 13, 8 p.m. ET
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Both teams have struggled in short-yardage situations. The Bills seems afraid to run, and the Dolphins' offensive line play definitely has declined over the last month. Jake Long is not having a good season. The Dolphins can turn things around against the Bills.

The Dolphins gave up 177 rushing yards to the Titans last week and 162 to the St. Louis Rams a few weeks back. The Bills gave up at least 180 yards for four consecutive weeks at one point. They have settled things down lately, but they remain second to last in rushing yards allowed and dead last in yards per carry allowed.

This should be a night of great running. Whether you're watching the game on television or your phone, we like Spiller's chances to steal the show.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.