In this week’s Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills match-up, the outcome will decide the fate of both teams. While the Bills are looking to lock up the #2 seed in the AFC, the Dolphins are fighting for a ticket to the post season. The Bills have yet to confirm whether or not Josh Allen will start at quarterback while the Dolphins will be without Ryan Fitztpatrick this week due to a positive test for COVID-19.
Before getting into what we should expect during the game itself, let’s breakdown the playoff picture for each team.
The Dolphins currently sit in fifth place in the AFC. The worst case scenario is 8th place, one spot out of the playoffs. If they win they are in. If not, here are the scenarios for the Dolphins to remain alive:
- Ravens loss
- Browns loss **
- Colts loss
** The Steelers have announced that Mason Rudolph will start in place of Ben Roethlisberger in week 17, making a Browns loss less likely.
If the Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills game ends in a tie, the Dolphins will need one of the following scenarios to take place:
- Ravens tie
- Browns tie
- Colts tie
- Titans loss
The Bills enter week 17 in sole possession of second place in the AFC. If Buffalo beats Miami, they will lock up that spot regardless of the outcome of the Steelers/Browns game. If Buffalo loses and Pittsburgh wins then the Bills will finish the regular season in third place.
What We Saw Last Week
Buffalo Bills Offence
Once again, we saw the deadly duo of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs outclass their opponents. The New England Patriots entered this week without top corner Stephon Gilmore. They simply had no answer for Josh Allen’s ability to scramble and make accurate throws to Diggs on the run. The running game was once again a non factor. The game was well in hand for most of the evening, and in the fourth quarter Josh’s night was over when backup Matt Barkely took the reins to kill the clock and end the game. The Pats were terrible and the Bills routed the Patriots 38-9.
- Passing: 27/36/320/4
- Rushing: 4/35/0
- QBR: 97.3
Miami Dolphins Offence
The Dolphins pulled out a ‘come from behind’ miracle against the Raiders last week with a last second field goal from kicker Jason Sanders for the win in Las Vegas. Miami pulled rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa in the 4th quarter for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tua was struggling to move the ball down the field in the 4th, so Brian Flores made the decision to change things up. The Dolphins needed a spark, and FitzMagic was the answer. After the Raiders missed an extra point, Fitz drove the offence down the field for a game-tying touchdown. Jason Sanders made the extra point to put the Fins up 23-22. Las Vegas took possession and drove down to the Miami 4 yard line, where Carlson kicked a field goal to put the Raiders back on top 25-23 with just 18 seconds left on the clock.
Following the kickoff, Miami started their final drive at their own 25. Fitz looked deep down field to Mack Hollins along the left sideline. This is where the Raiders sealed their own fate with penalties. Isaiah Johnson was called for pass interference on Hollins, and at the same time Arden Key was called for grabbing Fitzpatrick’s face mask. That one play took the Dolphins from their own 25 yard line to the Raiders 26. Fitz threw an incomplete pass down field, stopping the clock at six seconds. Sanders made the 44 yard field goal, bringing about a very disappointing loss for the Raiders at home. Dolphins picked up their 10th win of the season with a 25-23 victory.
- Passing: 17/22/94/1
- Rushing: 3/11/0
- Passing: 9/13/182/1
- Rushing: 14/87/0
- Receiving: 5/5/82/2
Buffalo Bills Defence
Cam Newton and the Patriots offence were stymied by a stout Bills defensive effort. Aside from an early 46 yard field goal and nine yard TD run in the second quarter, Buffalo shut down any offensive attack the Patriots attempted. The defence looked good on Monday night, but it was also against a shadow of New England’s former self. Cam Newton has as much arm talent left in him as the Patriots have receiver talent; it is simply non existent.
- Passing yards allowed: 78
- Rushing yards allowed: 145
- Sacks: 3
- Forced Fumbles: 0
- Touchdowns allowed: 1
- Field Goals allowed: 1
Miami Dolphins Defence
The Dolphins defence played well Saturday night, especially on third down. They did not allow Derek Carr to convert any third downs into first downs all night. Carr did complete one of two fourth down attempts but that was about it.
- Passing yards allowed: 336
- Rushing yards allowed: 104
- Sacks: 3
- Forced Fumbles: 1
- Touchdowns allowed: 2
- Field Goals allowed: 4
Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills This Week
Buffalo Bills Key to Victory
Bills head coach Sean McDermott has yet to announce who his starting quarterback will be on Sunday. Josh Allen likely gets the start in this one but expect him to be sidelined even earlier than last week, should the Bills get out to any kind of lead. The truth of the matter is that win or lose, this game is nowhere near as important to the Bills as it is to the Dolphins. Buffalo will need to focus on putting forth a strong defensive effort in this game and keep Tua contained within the pocket.
On offence, Buffalo must continue to attack gaps in zone coverage with Diggs and push the ball down field. The run game has not been a factor all season. If the Bills wish to make a late run in the playoffs, including a shot at a possible trip to Tampa in early February 2021, then they need to figure it out. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss need to be given better protection from the offensive line.
Miami Dolphins Key to Victory
Brian Flores and the Dolphins coaching staff really need to step up their game this week against a superior Buffalo offence. The Dolphins have a good defence and will need to find a way to keep the ball out of the hands of Stefon Diggs; easier said than done. Josh Allen has been ‘lights out’ the past month of the season. Miami must contain the Bills star QB and find a way to get pressure on him without allowing him to scramble and buy more time. The Bills’ offensive line has afforded him an average of 3 seconds or more per passing play to get the ball down field. Pressuring Josh Allen is going to be a hard task, but one that has to be managed if Miami has any hope.
On offence, look for Miami to pull out all the stops in this do or die game. Miami has limited Tua to a very conservative passing game so far this season in order to help him develop. However, conservative is a word that needs to be eliminated from the Dolphins’ vocabulary on Sunday as they will need to attack Buffalo with everything they’ve got (on both sides of the ball).
The outcome of the Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills game this week totally depends on who plays quarterback this week for Buffalo. If Josh Allen starts, I expect the Bills to win a hard fought AFC East battle in a convincing manner. Should Josh Allen sit this week and the Bills give the helm to Matt Barkley, Miami could pull off an upset.
Without Ryan Fitzpatrick available to the Dolphins, Miami’s playoff hopes will rest solely on Tua’s shoulders. Unfortunately I do not think he is ready for this much pressure against a team that has the ability to put up so many points.
- With Josh Allen: Buffalo wins 28-14.
- No Josh Allen: Buffalo wins 17-14
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