This is certainly not the matchup it could have been. The Dolphins got off to a surprising 4-3 start and were in the playoff picture — at least on the outskirts of it. They have lost two in a row, though, and have looked far from good doing it. Now they sit at 4-5 and two games behind the wild card spots. They aren’t doomed, but they sure can’t afford any more setbacks.
The Bills, meanwhile, are just hopeless. They have dropped three in a row to fall to 3-6, and despite a massive offseason investment in their defense only one team has allowed more than the 285 points they have surrendered — and Tennessee’s 311 have come in one more game. Boil it all down and you aren’t exactly looking at a marquee matchup here. Then again, how often are showdowns between these games really must-see TV?
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If the Dolphins are going to win this one they are going to have to bounce back from a truly ugly performance. They only managed three points against the lousy defense of the Titans, and the 37-3 score was their most lopsided home loss in 42 years.
In a quirk of scheduling the Bills have only played three home games so far. That means that five of their last seven are home. Buffalo in the winter isn’t exactly hospitable, so that could be a much-needed edge for them — starting with these fair weather Dolphins.
Dolphins at Bills Betting Storylines
Perhaps the most important single matchup to watch in this game is C.J. Spiller and the Buffalo running game against the Dolphins’ run defense. Miami hadn’t allowed a 100 yard game by a running back in 22 games before Chris Johnson managed 126 last week. The Bills will be looking to exploit that vulnerability again — and likely need to do that to win. Spiller hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards since the first two weeks of the season. However, he had 70 yards last week on just nine carries, so he’s still in solid form. When the teams met last December Spiller averaged an impressive 7.6 yards per carry on 12 tries, so he’ll likely be able to cover some ground if he’s given the chance. The pressure will be intense on Spiller here as Fred Jackson was hit in the head last week and will be out of action with a concussion.
Another key to the game will be how Ryan Tannehill performs. He hadn’t thrown an interception in four games heading into last week, and he was looking pretty solid for a rookie on an underwhelming team. The wheels totally fell off against the Titans, though. He threw three picks, and each one was uglier than the one before it. It was by far his worst game as a pro, so it will be interesting to see how well he can bounce back — especially if it is a cold night in upstate New York as the forecast suggests is likely. The biggest thing going for him is that the Buffalo pass defense ranks just 25th in points allowed. They should be much better at rushing the passer than they have been, though, so if they can manage a breakthrough on that front they face a quarterback who is vulnerable to pressure.
While Tannehill struggled last week, it’s important to give Ryan Fitzpatrick some credit. He’s not exactly Dan Marino, but he is setting career marks in efficiency and yards per attempt this year, and he is well on his way to shattering his previous bests for passer rating and touchdowns. He’s not a great QB by any means, but he’s more than functional at most times. His biggest issue still, though, is making bad mistakes in pressure situations — like the late interception he threw against the Patriots last week when the Bills had a chance to pull off the miracle. The Dolphins are 28th against the pass this year, so Fitzpatrick really has a chance to do something special in this one if he is on his game.
Dolphins at Bills NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with a spread of anywhere from zero to 1.5 points, with the Bills favored. It seems to have settled at 1.5, with a strong majority of bets coming in on the Bills. The total sits at 45.5 points.
Miami has won and covered three of the last four meetings between these divisional rivals, including the last two in Buffalo. Miami has gone “under” the total in the last five games they have played. The Dolphins are 8-0-3 ATS in their last 11 as road dogs of less than a field goal. The favorite is 7-3-1 ATS in the last 11 between these teams.
NFL Picks: Dolphins at Bills Betting Predictions
The best value in this one is to find the highest total you can and take the under. I don’t trust either offense enough to assume they can score a lot of points. Picking a side is much tougher because the game is as much of a toss-up as the line suggests. I lean slightly towards the Bills because they are at home, and they played decent football last week while the Dolphins were so bad. I’m not enthusiastic, though.
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