Four weeks ago, this looked like it would be a meaningless game, now, the Bills are favoured in Miami. The Dolphins are dealing with major injury issues, and in typical Dolphins fashion, they are falling apart at the end of the season. The Bills are winning with a running game and defense that will be hard for the Dolphins to overcome.
The Dolphins defense, despite injuries, still boasts many talented pieces. Cornerback Xavien Howard could miss time due to a foot injury; therefore Jalen Ramsey and Eli Apple could become Miami’s starting boundary corners. Ramsey remains one of the premier corners in the league at 29, while Apple shows great promise yet has made some costly errors in recent seasons. Vic Fangio’s defense often keeps his position close to the boundary, giving Buffalo ample opportunity to move Diggs, Gabe Davis, and Khalil Shakir around formations to produce advantageous matchups. also rookie Dalton Kincaid (TE), to battle against Dolphins nickel corner Kader Kohou who has allowed an alarming 131.1 passer rating this season. He will have some protection at his back, however; Jevon Holland is one of the league’s premier young safeties, while DeShon Elliott provides him with some hard-hitting punch up the middle. It all bodes well for Buffalo in terms of running routes, with James Cook as their one-man advantage in the backfield. Miami gives up the third-highest yards per reception to running backs (8.92), giving Buffalo an early edge with their passing attack.
Going into Sunday’s contest, the Dolphins led the NFL in net passing yards (4,347) and net passing yards per attempt (7.6) – no surprise when you consider they are led by highly accurate Tua Tagovailoa who throws to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, who can quickly move the chains. During the season, Tagovailoa boasted an eighth-best QBR rating (54.83) while ranking second in yards per touch (7.29). But this week, there are serious doubts about who he will throw to, given that neither Hill nor Waddle participated in practice on Thursday. Losing 60% of their receiving production would be devastating to any team, yet in particular to Miami, it would represent losing over 60.4%. When heading into their next game expect at least one of these players – likely Hill – to play while Miami looks for production from other personnel. As such, they could benefit from tight end Durham Smythe, wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, special teamer Braxton Berrios or any of Miami’s speedy running backs – regardless of injuries that might reduce their effectiveness but will no doubt prove dangerous nonetheless.
A month ago many believed the Bills’ Week 18 matchup against the Dolphins would not hold much weight. Now, four weeks later, standing 10-6 with an AFC East title game set for Sunday in Miami looming large for them, the gamis of utmost importance now. Surprisingly, Buffalo’s four-game win streak wasn’t driven by its passing attack but rather by an improved defense and impressive ground game.
Where this matchup becomes significant for Buffalo is in the trenches. Fangio’s defense relies heavily on four-man pass rush strategies – this explains why they rank #28 with just 20.7% blitz rates. Up front, the Dolphins are led by – Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler, who are two potent offensive threats on the inside, while Emmanuel Ogbah, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Melvin Ingram provide decent depth on the defensive line. Will that be enough to give Miami cause for alarm against an offensive line that ranks 10th in pressure rate allowed (18.8%) and has the league-best sack percentage (3.7%? If it isn’t, Fangio may need to adapt his plans from what he wants done to what is necessary; otherwise, Allen could put up big numbers against them once more.
Everything points towards the Bills in this game, and with good reason. The Bills are the better team at this point. The Dolphins’ defense was built around two elite pass rushers; with them gone, the Dolphins’ defense will struggle. Take the Bills 27 Dolphins 20
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