The Buffalo Bills are one win away from completing a comeback season for the ages and they get their opportunity Sunday evening in South Florida.
The Bills’ playoff hopes were imperilled by a mid-season losing streak that left them at 5-5, but they have won five of their last six games and could pick up their fourth straight AFC East title with a victory over the Miami Dolphins Sunday at 8:20 p.m. ET in the final regular-season game of the NFL schedule.
The teams would finish with identical records if the Bills win, but Buffalo holds the tiebreaker thanks to a 48-20 win over Miami in Week 4 at Highmark Stadium.
Bet on Bills vs. Dolphins
Motivation shouldn’t be an issue in this one even if neither team cared about the division crown and that seems unlikely. Though either team still could qualify for the playoffs with a loss, this game could be the difference between a first-round home game vs. the Indianapolis Colts and a road game in Kansas City vs. the defending champs.
Bills vs. Dolphins odds
|Bills Moneyline Odds
|Dolphins Moneyline Odds
|48.5 points (over -110, under -110)
|January 7th, 8:20 p.m. ET
|Broadcast: TSN, CTV
About the Bills (10-6 SU, 6-9-1 ATS, 6-10 o/u)
If the Bills lose, they have to hope that the Jacksonville Jaguars don’t win, or they will be left out of the playoffs entirely. Either way, the Bills should be plenty motivated in this one to prove they still own a division that many people thought Miami had wrapped up weeks ago.
After their Week 10 loss to the Denver Broncos that dropped them to .500, head coach Sean McDermott decided to fire offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. Since then, the Bills have become one of the NFL’s hottest teams while battling one of the league’s toughest schedules. To blow it this close to the goal line could prove a crushing blow to a franchise many people have considered on the precipice of decline.
The offence didn’t exactly look dominant in last week’s one-score win over the New England Patriots, yet another example of a unit that has been spectacular at times and fairly pedestrian at others. The Bills need to clean up some communication issues in the offensive line that contributed to constant first-half pressure on quarterback Josh Allen, who didn’t complete any of his six passes when pressured and was 7-for-20 in the first half. Bills receivers also dropped three balls vs. the Patriots and 16 of their 24 drops on the season have come since Week 10.
Getting receiver Stefon Diggs involved has been a problem as well. He hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game since Week 6 and he has now gone four straight games without a touchdown catch or as many as 50 yards receiving.
The running game, newly invigorated under interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady, has been saving this offence lately. Starting with that Denver game, James Cook has eclipsed 100 rushing yards twice and 70 yards four times.
About the Dolphins (11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS, 9-7 o/u)
It’s a good thing for the Dolphins that they have already punched their playoff ticket, because injuries have begun to pile up at exactly the wrong time for this team.
The most explosive deep threat in the NFL, Tyreek Hill, returned to the team facility Friday for the first time since a fire at his home on Wednesday and should play Sunday, but the Dolphins haven’t yet announced whether receiver Jaylen Waddle or running back Raheem Mostert will be able to go after missing last week. In addition, Pro Bowl defensive end Bradley Chubb tore his ACL in last week’s 56-19 thrashing by the Baltimore Ravens and is out for the remainder of the season.
History also isn’t on Miami’s side here as it has dropped 10 of the past 11 meetings with Buffalo. Then again, the Dolphins are 7-1 at home and their defence has allowed just 72.3 rushing yards per game at Hard Rock Casino, so they could look more competitive than they did the first time vs. the Bills or in a brutal performance vs. Baltimore in which Lamar Jackson threw for five touchdowns.
With Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard out in this one due to a foot injury, the Dolphins could have issues covering all of Allen’s available weapons. That could prompt Brady to ditch the run-first approach of recent weeks in favour of letting Allen decide this game with his arm.
While Miami still has ace cover guy Jalen Ramsey on one side, likely matched up against Diggs, covering Gabe Davis could be an issue. Eli Apple figures to draw that assignment.
This hasn’t been a great season for Davis, but he had one of his finest games against Miami the first time around, hauling in three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Total Points under 48.5
In the initial injury report for this game, the Dolphins listed 18 players to the Bills’ five. By the time Friday rolled around, the Bills didn’t expect any of the players on that list to miss this game though C Mitch Morse (illness) was listed as questionable.
For Miami, Mostert and Waddle both returned to practice Friday, per the Miami Herald. LB Duke Raley (ankle), S Jevon Holland (knee), LB David Long Jr. (knee) and OG Austin Jackson are listed as questionable.
The forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms to wrap up sometime Sunday evening, leaving cloudy skies and temperatures in the 20 C range, with winds of about 19 km/h coming out of the northeast.
- Before the Week 17 games, the Bills were listed as 1.5-point underdogs at Bet365, meaning this game has seen a four-point line move.
- The Bills have been favoured by 2.5 points or more 12 times this season and gone 4-8 ATS in those games.
- Miami has been underdogs of 2.5 points or more four times and gone 1-3 ATS in those games.
- In the past five head-to-head matchups, the Bills have outscored Miami 170-121.
Player Prop Trends
- Allen completed 21 of 25 pass attempts for 320 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in the teams’ first meeting.
- De’Von Achane is averaging 8.0 yards per carry on 93 carries this season.
- Cooks has exceeded his rushing yards total here (62.5 yards at -110) just twice in his last five games.
Wagers To Consider
- With so much on the line, both teams could revert to a somewhat conservative approach and, except for last week’s game in Baltimore, both defences have improved in the second half of the season. While the first game between the teams easily eclipsed the total, this could be a spot to ride the under-48.5.
- While Miami certainly looked awful last week, this spread seems like a bit of an overreaction to that result. The Dolphins could be undefeated at home this season had they not given up two touchdowns in the final three minutes to the Tennesse Titans. Consider taking the home ‘dog in this one.