Money men Ndamukong Suh, Marcell Dareus at center of Dolphins-Bills clash

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Ndamukong Suh and Marcell Dareus, who have become the NFL's highest-paid defensive tackles since their only prior meeting, at Detroit's Ford Field last October, will set foot on the same field again Sunday in Miami.

Not only is there intrigue as to how much each Pro Bowl lineman can disrupt his opponent's offense -- and how their performances stack up against one another -- but both mammoth tackles must continue to prove they're worth the massive contracts they landed this year.

The Miami Dolphins signed Suh to a six-year, $114 million deal in March that included $59.96 million in guaranteed money. Dareus received $60 million guaranteed as part of his six-year, $100 million extension with the Buffalo Bills, completed earlier this month.

"When you do look at the pay increases, it's clear how people are valuing these defensive tackles," Bills coach Rex Ryan said this week. "But it's really rare to get somebody like a Suh, like a Marcell Dareus -- two guys that play the run extremely well and they get after the quarterback.

"They're hard to find, those guys. They're rare guys. As my dad [former NFL coach Buddy Ryan] would always say, 'It's hard to find an unusual guy like this.' And he had Alan Page, Eric Swann and Dan Hampton through the years.

"I'm certainly happy that we have Marcell, and I'm sure Miami is certainly happy that they have Suh."

They might not be "skill position" players and are rarely mentioned in fantasy football drafts, but nobody would say Dareus or Suh lacks skill. The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Suh collected 36 sacks in five seasons with the Detroit Lions. Dareus, who is 6-3, 331 pounds, notched 28.5 sacks in his first four years in Buffalo, including a career-high 10 in 2014.

"They're both big, physical, fast, athletic," Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said this week.

Dareus might edge Suh in guaranteed salary, but Suh is the NFL's highest-paid defensive player. He will earn an average of $19.062 million over the life of his deal, compared to $15.85 million for Dareus.

"I think Suh has always been one of the most explosive players in the league and his get-off is tremendous," Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "He's just such a physical force that he can wreck the whole game if you let him. He looks the same as he did in Detroit."

Well, not quite. Suh anchored the league's No. 1 run defense last year in Detroit. This season Suh has just three tackles in two games and Miami's run defense is ranked 27th.

"I think it's unacceptable," Suh said this week. "[But] you gotta respect every single team's run game. That's the first goal. We gotta go out and stop the run."

Although Dareus was drafted third overall in 2011, just one year after the Lions selected Suh second overall, he's three years younger than his counterpart in Miami.

"He is a very young guy -- I think he's 25 or something like that -- so he's got a lot of football years ahead of him," Suh said this week. "I'm excited to see him play. Obviously you don't want him to have a good game against us. But every other game outside of when we play them here and when we go up there, I hope he has all the best games he can."

The New England Patriots held Dareus without a sack last week, partly because of a quick-strike passing game that saw Tom Brady get rid of the ball an average of 2.0 seconds after the snap, the NFL's second-fastest rate in Week 2.

"I think he does everything well," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Dareus before the game. "He's stout in the running game, he's instinctive, he can rush the passer, he runs well, he makes plays in pursuit and screen passes and things like that. For a guy his size, he's a very active player."

Belichick believes Dareus, one of three Pro Bowl players on the Bills' defensive line, has enough athleticism to play end. And under Ryan, the Bills have moved Dareus into different alignments along the line.

But when Dareus is lined up directly over a center -- or shaded to either gap -- his 331 pounds and quick feet make him a nightmare for the man in the middle of the opponent's offensive line.

"Marcell Dareus is the best nose guard in the NFL," Dolphins center Mike Pouncey said this week. "Just look at his stats. You don't have 10 sacks at nose guard in this league unless you're a really good player. That he is."

Bills center Eric Wood practices against Dareus during training camp and also has been tasked with blocking Suh twice, in 2010 and 2014 -- holding him without a sack each time.

"Both are great players," Wood said this week. "Much different styles. Marcell is more of a read-type player. Not necessarily a true two-gapper but switches it up a lot. Suh likes to penetrate, likes to swim the gap. He's more disruptive up the field. Both really good at what they do."

Are teams valuing defensive tackles more highly in the modern NFL? That's debatable.

In 2011, there were five defensive tackles whose contracts averaged more than $10 million per season, including Suh. In the four years since, only four defensive tackles have signed deals worth more than $10 million per year: Suh, Dareus, Tampa Bay's Gerald McCoy and Cincinnati's Geno Atkins.

It's a sign of the rare skills that both Suh and Dareus possess, which should make both players a treat to watch Sunday and for years to come.

"When their careers are over, everybody will assess where they belong," Thurman said. "But greatness is greatness, and it's hard not to notice it. Both great players, both talented and it's a pleasure to get to watch them play."

ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker contributed to this story.