Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills (1/15 @ 1:00 PM EST)
Spread: Bills -9
Money Line: Miami +370 / Bills -495
Overview and Betting Info
The Miami Dolphins (9-8) will head to the cold of Buffalo to take on the Bills (13-3) for the first round of the AFC playoffs. The division rivals split their season series, with the games being decided by a total of five points. Buffalo won the AFC East, while the Dolphins grabbed the final Wild Card slot.
The Dolphins are 9-8 against the spread and have covered three of their last four games. They have gone over the total eight times but have gone under in three of their last five games.
The Bills are 8-7-1 versus the spread this season but have covered just four of their last ten games. They have gone over the total just six times but have been over in their last three games.
The Dolphins’ offense averages 364.5 yards (6th in NFL) and 23.4 points per game. They have been led by a breakout season from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (3,548 yards, 25 TD). However, another concussion makes it unlikely for him to suit up on Sunday. That means the Dolphins will have to decide between Teddy Bridgewater (683 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT) and Skylar Thompson (534 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT) to start against the Bills. Bridgewater has been the better option and has more experience, but he has also been dealing with injuries throughout the season. Neither quarterback faced the Bills this season.
Whoever starts at quarterback Sunday will work with the top receiving duo in the league with Tyreek Hill (1,710 yards, 7 TD) and Jaylen Waddle (1,356 yards, 8 TD). They’ve both been fantastic, and Hill has put up another huge year and is second in receptions (119) and yards. Waddle has been a Bills-killer this season, leading the team with 216 yards and a touchdown in the two games. Both have seen their numbers drop dramatically when Tua has been out. When Hill and Waddle are covered, the Dolphins will use Trent Sherfield (417 yards, 2 TD) and tight end Mike Gesicki (362 yards, 2 TD). Gesicki had just 11 yards in their two-game against the Bills but has been far more productive when Tua isn’t in the lineup.
The Dolphins’ backfield is led by Raheem Mostert (891 yards, 3 TD) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (860 yards, 5 TD). Mostert picked up a thumb injury against the Jets last week that the team described as “serious”. This would be another huge loss for this Miami offense, especially considering the back went for 136 yards on 8 YPC in their last game against the Bills. Fortunately, the Fins have Jeff Wilson Jr healthy and capable of taking over. Wilson hasn’t faced the Bills this year, but he’s been an effective rusher by averaging 4.9 YPC.
The Miami defense allowed an average of 337.8 yards and 23.5 points per game this season. They struggled to contain Buffalo in both regular season matchups, thanks to a secondary that is 27th in the NFL by allowing 234.8 YPG. They have been led by the play of Jaelan Phillips (7 sacks, 8 TFL), Melvin Ingram (6 sacks, 7 TFL), and Christian Wilkins (3.5 sacks, 16 TFL). They are joined by Elandon Roberts (107 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10 TFL), who helps form a top-five run defense. In the secondary, they are led by a trio of Jevon Holland (96 tackles, 1 PD, 2 INT), Xavien Howard (12 PD, 1 INT), and Kader Kohou (10 PD, 1 INT). Their play on Sunday will be critical as they face Josh Allen and an outstanding Bills passing attack.
The Bills’ offense is second in the NFL in yards (397.6) and points (28.4) per game this season. They are led by Josh Allen, who has thrown for 4,283 yards and 35 touchdowns (T-2nd in NFL) on the year. He’s also the Bills’ second-leading rusher, with 762 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He’s been incredible as of late, with 10 combined touchdowns over their last three games (all outdoors in cold weather). The quarterback threw for a combined 704 yards and six touchdowns with zero interceptions in their two games against Miami this season.
The Bills have a talented group of pass catchers, led by Stefon Diggs, who has 1,429 yards (5th in NFL) and 11 touchdowns (3rd). While he was contained reasonably well against Miami this season, Diggs is coming off a game where he had 10 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. He joins Gabe Davis (836 yards, 7 TD) and tight end Dawson Known (517 yards, 6 TD) to round out their top pass-catchers. We expect Knox to be heavily involved Sunday, as he has scored in four straight weeks and went for 98 yards and a touchdown in his last game against Miami.
The Bill’s run game has been led by Devin Singletary, who has rushed for 819 yards and five touchdowns. While he has yet to be very involved in the passing attack in the second half of the season, Singletary did go for 78 receiving yards and a touchdown in their first matchup with Miami. He’s coming off a poor showing against the Pats last week, where he rushed for 29 and lost a fumble. Singletary is joined by another talented back, James Cook. The rookie back has 507 yards and a touchdown while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
The Buffalo defense allowed 319.1 yards (6th in NFL) and 18.6 points (2nd) per game this season. They have been great but were beaten up by Miami (with Tua) just four weeks ago. They’ve survived the loss of Von Miller to an ACL injury thanks to the play of Greg Rousseau (8 sacks, 10 TFLs) and AJ Espenesa (6.5 sacks, 7 TFLs). They are joined by linebackers Matt Milano (12 TFLs, 11 PF, 3 INT) to form one of the best-run defenses in the league. Espenesa is questionable but is practicing in total and is expected to play and continue his four-game sack streak. Their secondary is led by safety Jordan Power (8 PD, 4 INT) and Dan Jackson (12 PD, 2 INT). Neither has had an interception in over two months, but both are solid in coverage and should thrive against whichever quarterback the Dolphins trot out on Sunday.
Free Pick: Bills -9
The Dolphins showed they could beat the Bills, but that was with Tua. Though Bridgewater has the experience, he and Thompson won’t be able to drive the ball in Buffalo on Sunday. The Bills’ secondary still has a hole at safety, but the rest of the unit is still great. The Buffalo pass rush and run defense will force the Fins’ quarterback to make quick decisions and almost certainly lead to turnovers. This is when linebacker Matt Milano will come in to play, as he has been fantastic against the pass and should be able to keep Gesicki covered. Hill and Waddle are always dangerous, but they will be hampered without the accurate Tua behind center.
The Bills’ offense will be too much for the Dolphins to handle, leading to more points than their own offense can match. Look for Singletary, Allen, and Cook to wear down Miami’s impressive run defense and help break this game open on the ground. We feel confident about this one, and that’s without even mentioning Buffalo’s significant home-field advantage or extensive playoff experience. Unless Tua somehow plays, we’re happy to give up the points to run with the Bills on Sunday.