Sunday’s slate of NFL Wild Card round games starts with a matchup of AFC East rivals as the Miami Dolphins (9-8) take on the Buffalo Bills (13-3). The Bills will host this one at Highmark Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 1:00 pm ET.
The two teams split their two matchups this season with the Dolphins winning 21-19 back at the end of September and the Bills winning 32-29 back in the middle of December.
In the most recent matchup, the Bills were led by Josh Allen, who threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. The Dolphins still had Tua Tagovailoa, who threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns, available at the time, but will need to find a different answer under center Sunday.
The Bills are overwhelming favorites to win in this one. They are -1000 to win, while the Dolphins moneyline sits at +660. In terms of the spread, the Dolphins are 13.5-point underdogs (-105), and the over/under for total points is 43.5.
Dolphins Look For Major Upset With Rookie Under Center
With both Tua Tagovailoa (concussion protocol) and Teddy Bridgewater (hand) out for this one, the Dolphins will rest their postseason hopes on a 25-year-old rookie. Skylar Thompson will get the start for the Dolphins as they look to upset their division rivals, the Buffalo Bills.
In parts of seven games this season, Thompson has thrown for 574 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. While the team ranks 11th in the NFL in scoring (23.4 points per game), they have struggled the last few games with Tagovailoa out, averaging just 17.3 points.
Luckily, Thompson has one of the best receiving tandems in the league to throw to. Both Tyreek Hill (1,710 yards, seven touchdowns) and Jaylen Waddle (1,356 yards, eight touchdowns) have been phenomenal this year.
On the defensive side, the Dolphins have struggled a bit. They rank 24th in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of 23.5 points per game (30.6 on the road).
Bills Focusing On One Game At A Time
While most of the pundits expect the Bills to roll the Dolphins, Buffalo understands they can’t overlook their AFC East foes. That is how they lost the first matchup between the two teams.
Luckily for Bills’ fans, not only has the team been on a seven-game winning streak, but they are tied for an AFC-best 7-1 record when playing at home.
The Bills excel on both sides of the ball. On defense, they rank second in the league, allowing just 17.9 points per game to opponents.
They also rank second-best on offense, where they are averaging 28.4 points per game (31.9 at home). The team is led under center by quarterback Josh Allen.
In 16 games, Allen has thrown for 4,283 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He has also rushed for 762 yards and another seven scores.
Allen’s favorite target on offense continues to be Stefon Diggs. In 16 games, Diggs had 108 receptions for 1,429 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Take Buffalo To Win And Cover
Miami has really struggled as of late. They are 1-5 in their last six games, and they are just 1-8 straight up in their last nine games against the Bills.
For Buffalo, they are 11-1 in their last 12 home games and 6-0 in their last six home games against the Dolphins.
The Bills were going to be a tough matchup regardless, but especially with their top two quarterbacks out, it might just be too steep of a hill for the Dolphins to climb.
Expect the Bills to pull away early and never look back. Take Buffalo to both win and to cover the 13.5 points (-115).