- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 12:
Must-win game for Bills: The Buffalo Bills are 4-6 and on thin ice for an AFC wild card. The Bills will meet one of the two current wild-card placeholders -- the Indianapolis Colts -- in what could be a playoff eliminator for the Bills. Buffalo must win this game to close the gap on the Colts (6-4) and also get closer to .500. There is no margin for error. The playoffs start now for the Bills.
Spiller thriller: The Bills are 2-0 this season when running back C.J. Spiller gets at least 15 carries. That should be the formula Buffalo follows if it wants to upset the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Spiller got a career-high 22 carries in last week’s win over the Miami Dolphins. He averages an NFL-best 7.3 yards per carry and continues to make the most of his opportunities. But it’s up to the coaching staff to call Spiller’s number more often. Buffalo announced this week that Spiller remains the starter, despite Fred Jackson returning. That's a good start.
West Coast bias: The Miami Dolphins have done well at home against West Coast teams. Miami’s location on the southern tip of Florida makes it one of the longest possible trips for NFL teams in different time zones. Miami is 2-0 the past two seasons against teams from the Pacific time zone. The Dolphins beat the Oakland Raiders in back-to-back years, including a 35-13 thrashing this season. The Dolphins were able to take advantage of the early sluggishness and cruise to victory. The Seattle Seahawks will make their longest road trip of the season to play the Dolphins on Sunday.
Losing the trenches: Miami began the year hot because it could run the ball and stop the run. But lately, the Dolphins have lost their way in the trenches. Miami is averaging just 57 rushing yards and allowing 148.5 rushing yards the past two weeks. Tennessee Titans tailback Chris Johnson broke Miami’s 22-game streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher, and Spiller (91 yards) nearly made it two in a row. Miami has another tough assignment at tailback in Marshawn Lynch, who has rushed for 1,007 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Scoreboard watching: The New England Patriots improved to 8-3 with a blowout victory over the New York Jets on Thanksgiving. New England is running away with the AFC East and can now set its sights on bigger goals, such as a first-round bye in the playoffs. New England currently has the third seed in the AFC. The Patriots lost to the Baltimore Ravens (8-2), the No. 2 seed, earlier this season and will be watching them closely. The Ravens travel to play the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.