© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Once again, the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins meet with both teams headed in separate directions. In a classic rivalry matchup dating back to 1966. From 2018 to 2021, your Rumbling Herd squished the Phish in seven consecutive matchups before losing by two points back in December.
It's time for a revenge game. Why are the Dolphins on a different trajectory than the Bills? Because they peaked too early, and we're now seeing Tua Tagovailoa hit a few bumps in the road, removing him from the MVP conversation.
But Bills Fans have already been through this with Josh Allen this season. Four red zone interceptions? Big deal. The team is 10-3. Win this one, and they win the AFC East.
If that alone isn't enough to get all 53 players in that locker room absolutely jacked on game day, they have bigger problems.
Make no mistake, the Dolphins aren't frauds. They're not suddenly some joke opponent or a team that should be taken lightly, but they have shown enough for us to realize they're not on the same level as the Bills or even the Kansas City Chiefs. They still have kinks to work out.
That's what we'll be paying attention to on Saturday. How quickly can head coach Mike McDaniel make the necessary adjustments to get an offense that scored 29.5 PPG with Tagovailoa from Weeks 1-3, 7-12 (injury makes this odd) but has dropped off to scoring just 17 PPG in the last two contests? Especially considering they scored just 21 points at home vs. Buffalo in Week 3?
Buffalo Bills vs. Dolphins game details, where to watch
- Saturday, December 17, 2022
- Start time: 8:15 PM ET
- TV channel - NFL Network
- Location - Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, New York
© Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Matchups to watch
- Can Josh Allen have a Justin Herbert-like day vs. Dolphins?
Despite Josh Allen averaging just 205 yards in his past four games, we don't have any questions about the gunslinger's skills. He's also thrown just (for Allen, it's low) six touchdowns compared to one interception in that span.
Something's been off, but the Dolphins could present a chance to get back into the MVP conversation, even if Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes are leading the charge.
The first reason is just how Allen performed against the Dolphins in their first matchup, where he passed for 400 yards and ran for 47 more. Clearly, Ken Dorsey and Allen like what they saw early on.
It turns out Justin Herbert did too. In Week 14 on Sunday Night Football, the Chargers QB absolutely wrecked the Dolphins D. He threw for a season-high 367 yards and finished with a phenomenal 76.4% completion rate on 51 attempts. Whatever the Chargers saw in the Dolphins' defensive approach, it worked like a charm, which leads us to our next key matchup to watch.
- Tua Tagovailoa's fleeting accuracy
We won't gloss over the fact that Mike McDaniel has quickly become one of the coolest head coaches in football, but he's not the one letting them down as of late. Suddenly, Tagovailoa has just been -- way off.
The Chargers not only destroyed the Dolphins' defense, but Tagovailoa and the offense also couldn't find any success. Suddenly the typically accurate Tagovailoa couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, looking completely out of sync with his receivers. At halftime, he had completed just 3-of-10 passes for 25 yards.
Even though he did settle in and make one strong throw to Tyreek Hill, it was the Cheetah's world-class speed that salvaged his final stat line, which still reads horribly.
Tagovailoa completed 10-of-28 passes (35.7%) for a measly 145 passing yards and a touchdown. But the trend started a week earlier, taking on the NFL's best defense in the 49ers. He then completed just 54% of his passes while also throwing two interceptions for the first time all season. So what happened?
Did Tagovailoa suddenly get rattled, is he concerned about getting hurt again? It's tough to say, but he hasn't been right in the past two weeks.
- Does Mother Nature deliver a snow bowl?
As locals know, the Buffalo area is set to be hit with a snowstorm, which isn't likely to reach the levels of sending the game to Detroit at Ford Field again. Yet, WGRZ meteorologist Patrick Hammer suggests areas close to Highmark Stadium could be hammered with 'lake effect snow,' but he wouldn't speculate on how much that could amount to.
But still, even a few inches of snow won't be friendly to Miami's speed-based attack. Especially considering this is a team that plays in the hot and humid atmosphere in South Florida. Buffalo is much, much different.
Who doesn't love watching football players try and trek through the snow, which can sometimes provide ridiculously goofy moments? Chances are, if that happens, it will be the Dolphins who are unprepared, not the team that's based in New York.
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills vs. Dolphins game prediction
- This season's record: Buffalo Bills 10-3, 1st in AFC East
- Miami Dolphins: 8-5, 2nd in AFC East
Despite the Dolphins being below average offensively in each of their past two games, we expect a bounceback against their division rivals. Yet, the Bills have a chip on their shoulders too. They know what this game means for playoff seeding, and coach Sean McDermott will have his squad at their best, ready to go for kickoff in primetime.
A big win here could go a long way toward establishing inner confidence, knowing this is a Super Bowl contender. Meanwhile, a loss would do the same. It would shatter all expectations, leaving us wondering where Buffalo went wrong and how to now find a way to build a better team that can squish the Phish before even thinking about hanging with Mahomes again.
But we just don't see that happening.
In fact, Vegas doesn't either. Buffalo is favored by 7.5 points to beat the Dolphins. Considering Miami was briefly, technically, atop the division for a bit, nearly an eight-point difference, even with Buffalo on the road, is a bit of a surprise.
Game prediction: Bills 34, Dolphins 24 - Bills victory
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