After suffering a loss in Week 10, the Buffalo Bills will try to bounce back quickly as they head south for a rivalry game with the Miami Dolphins. Kickoff is at 1:00 EST on Sunday, November 17 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Fans in upstate New York and South Florida will be able to watch the game on CBS.
Oddsmakers list the Bills as 6.5-point road favorites with the over/under set at 40 points. Be sure to check out all of the Week 11 NFL odds.
Buffalo has started to cool off in November after getting off to a 5-1 start. The Bills have lost two of their last three games, including a home loss to the Eagles and a road loss last week to the Browns despite holding a lead in the fourth quarter. Those losses are keeping the Bills two games back of New England in the AFC East while allowing a host of teams to come within a game or two of Buffalo in the Wild Card standings.
The good news is that the Bills have a golden opportunity to get back on track with games against the Dolphins and Broncos the next two weeks. Things get a little tricky for Buffalo starting with a Thanksgiving Day date with the Cowboys. That makes it important for the Bills to take care of business against a couple of losing teams during the next two weeks.
Of course, the Dolphins are riding on after back-to-back wins. To be fair, those wins came against the 2-7 Jets and an Indianapolis team that was playing a backup quarterback. Nevertheless, it’s two more wins than most people thought Miami would get this season. Despite parting ways with so many key players, those who remain with the Dolphins are still playing hard for rookie head coach Brian Flores.
The Dolphins may even have a chance to win a couple of more games down the stretch. Miami’s schedule includes the Browns, Jets, Giants, and Bengals, which are all games that look like potential wins after the Dolphins have found a way to win the last two weeks. Even a win against Buffalo this week isn’t out of the question.
Keep in mind that the Dolphins gave the Bills everything they could handle when they made the trip to Western New York last month. Miami out-gained Buffalo in the game and it was only because of the Bills returning an onside kick attempt for a touchdown that they won by 10 points rather than three points. The Bills also have just three wins in their last eight trips to Miami.
Until something changes, I think I’m done taking the Bills as favorites. Buffalo has proven that they’re capable of grinding out wins. However, they’re just not the kind of team that’s going to pull away in games. They were fortunate with the kick return the last time they played the Dolphins, but it still wasn’t enough to cover the 17-point spread. On the heels of back-to-back wins, I’m going to lean toward the Dolphins to beat the spread in a loss.
Surprisingly, the Miami defense has been the catalyst for the team’s recent stretch of good fortune. After giving up at least 30 points in each of their first four games, the Dolphins have held three of their last five opponents to less than 20 points. In fairness, those teams are the Redskins, Jets, and the Colts with Brian Hoyer at quarterback. But it’s still something the Dolphins can build off, especially with a defensive-minded head coach.
Also, Buffalo’s Josh Allen isn’t much better than most of the quarterbacks the Dolphins have faced over the last month. He was just 16 for 26 for a shade over 200 yards in the first meeting against Miami. On the season, Allen is completing less than 60% of his passes with just 10 touchdown passes to seven interceptions. Buffalo’s running game helps a lot, especially with the emergence of Devin Singletary in recent weeks. But Allen’s accuracy issues and inconsistency are frustrating and the biggest reason why it’s hard to buy the Bills as favorites.
On the other side of the ball, Ryan Fitzpatrick is giving the Dolphins competent play at quarterback, which is helping to keep them in games. Turnovers are always an issue with him, but Fitzpatrick is playing well enough to almost make up for the occasional interception. He played well against Buffalo last month and always seems to have a point to prove against his former team. Even with a depleted set of skill players around him, I think Fitzpatrick can do enough to keep the Dolphins within striking distance.
For the record, I’d be surprised to see the Bills lose this game. The Buffalo defense is good enough to win a close game on the road, even after letting a lead slip away last week. But I don’t trust Allen and the Buffalo offense to be consistent enough to cover a 6.5-point spread. They’ve struggled to be consistent over four quarters and I can’t rule out Allen making a foolish turnover to help keep the Dolphins in the game. I like to Buffalo to win but fail to cover the spread.