Can Ryan Tannehill overcome struggles against the Bills?

DAVIE, Fla. -- Maybe it's a mental block for Ryan Tannehill. Maybe it's a physical issue or some combination of the two.

But no team has given the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback more trouble over the past three seasons than the Buffalo Bills.

Tannehill enters Thursday's national game against the Bills virtually in a must-win situation. Miami (5-4) and Buffalo (5-4) have identical records and both are fighting for a playoff spot and a tiebreaker in a crowded AFC field.

The Bills have been masterful against Miami's offense the past three seasons with Tannehill under center. The Dolphins' starting quarterback is just 1-4 against the Bills in his career and never threw for more than 241 yards in those five games.

Buffalo also beat Tannehill and Miami three consecutive times by a combined margin of 71-31.

"I hate losing," Tannehill said Tuesday when asked of his record against the Bills. "I don't play to come out and play close games or lose. You play to win. I haven't played good football. I haven't played my best football against them. So it's a big game for us to step up and do that. It's a night game on national television. This is a big opportunity of course."

There will be a lot of eyes on Thursday's game. Miami and Buffalo have been pleasant surprises in the first half of the season and this matchup in some ways will separate a postseason contender from a pretender.

The Dolphins will only go as far as Tannehill takes them. He's been great at times and bad-to-mediocre at times, which is reflective of Miami's 5-4 record.

But Tannehill has been mostly bad against the Bills. He posted a passer rating above 74.0 against Buffalo just once, and that marked his only win against the Bills, 24-10, during his rookie season in 2012.

With several injuries and a short week, the Dolphins need Tannehill to produce solid quarterback play. He didn't outright call Thursday's game a must-win, but he realizes the pressure is on.

"We're in the second half of the season; it's coming down to winning games," Tannehill said. "We're in a conference where a lot of teams are playing well right now. There's still a lot of football in front of us but we have to play well."

Tannehill was banged up in last week's loss to the Detroit Lions. He showed up on the injury report with a right shoulder and ankle injuries.

Tannehill said he's "sore" but will be ready for the quick turnaround.

"It's tough," Tannehill said. "Anytime you play a Thursday night game, it's tough physically to get your body recovered and ready to go again. ...But coach took care of us this week in practice and let our bodies recover."

There are no excuses for Tannehill to have another poor game against the Bills. The time for him to step up against his division rival is now.