The Miami Dolphins will try to keep themselves in the playoff race this week when they play host to the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East rivalry game. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 2, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Fans in local markets can watch the game on CBS.
Oddsmakers list the Dolphins as 4.5-point favorites at home. The over/under is set at 40 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 13 NFL betting odds.
After starting the season 3-0, Miami’s playoff hopes have continued to dwindle. Not even the return of Ryan Tannehill last week was enough to lift the Dolphins to victory. After back-to-back losses on the road, the Dolphins have now lost six of their last eight games, putting them at 5-6 overall. The good news is that they remain just one game out of a wild-card spot in the AFC. However, there are currently six teams within a game of one another fighting for one spot.
Miami’s schedule down the stretch is a mixed bag. They play the Bills twice and also have a home game against the Jaguars. That should give the Dolphins at least three winnable games. However, they also face difficult tests against the Patriots and Vikings. More importantly, only winning three of their last five only gets the Dolphins to 8-8, which may not be good enough in such a crowded race.
As for the Bills, they are actually coming off back-to-back wins. To be fair, those wins have come against the Jets and Jaguars, two teams that are looking rather hopeless these days. However, beggars can’t be choosers. The Bills will gladly accept a couple of wins, especially with rookie quarterback Josh Allen returning to the fold last week after missing time with an elbow injury.
In theory, the Bills could win out, get to 9-7 on the season, and perhaps sneak into the last playoff spot in the AFC. After this week’s game in Miami, Buffalo does have three of their final four games at home. Of course, that seems unlikely, even if the Bills have looked like a viable NFL team the past couple of weeks.
Of course, regardless of each’s team record, these are two franchises that don’t particularly like each other. The Bills have gotten the better of this rivalry in recent years. Not only did Buffalo sweep the season series last year, but they’ve won seven of their last 10 meetings with Miami.
I’m not crazy about the idea of drinking the Buffalo kool-aid after a couple wins against bad teams. But I also don’t feel good about the Dolphins being favored, especially by more than a field goal. To be fair, Miami is 4-1 at home this year, although outside of a lucky win against the Bears, they haven’t exactly won in impressive fashion at home. I’ll take my chances with the Bills at least keeping this game close enough to beat the spread and maybe even pulling off an upset on the road.
Despite last week’s loss, Tannehill played well in his return. He completed 17 of 25 passes with two touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over. However, he totaled just 204 passing yards, and 74 of them came on one play to previously unknown receiver Leonte Carroo. Miami’s receiving corps remains banged up, so I’m still hesitant to think that Tannehill is ready to get the Dolphins rolling offensively.
It’s also worth noting that Buffalo’s pass defense has been surprisingly good this year. To be fair, the Bills have had occasional problems against the runs, including last week against the Jags. However, Buffalo has a solid pass rush and a fair amount of talent in the secondary, so I like their chances to keep Tannehill under wraps. With Kenyan Drake a little banged up, the Dolphins may have to lean a lot on the aging Frank Gore, which could work, but only in a low-scoring game.
On the other side of the ball, Miami’s defense has been a problem area for most of the season. If you take away one game against the lackluster Jets, the Dolphins have allowed at least 27 points in seven straight games. The last couple of weeks, Miami’s defense has been gashed on the ground, even against teams that aren’t known for being great running teams in the Colts and Packers.
Of course, the Bills are far from a juggernaut on offense. Allen’s passing numbers aren’t all that impressive. Also, Buffalo’s receivers don’t exactly strike fear in opposing defenses. However, the Bills still have LeSean McCoy, who could be dangerous against a Miami defense that’s vulnerable against the run. Allen has also shown a knack for making plays with his legs, which has helped to keep drives alive.
Honestly, neither of these teams are that impressive on either side of the ball. I’m inclined to think this will be a low-scoring game, which would favor the underdog. With the Dolphins losing six of their last eight games, I don’t trust them to cover a 4.5-point spread. I’ll take my chances with the Bills on the road.