Image Credit: © Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s forget about last week, shall we? The Buffalo Bills didn’t get off to the start everyone wanted, but with an extra game to play this season, beginning with a loss isn’t as bad as it used to be. No matter what, a playoff team from 2020 was going home 0-1.
Moving on to Week 2, the Bills get to face an AFC East division foe in the 1-0 Miami Dolphins. Last season, the Dolphins offense was average, ranking 15th in points scored. Their defense helped them get to ten wins by holding opponents to 21.1 points per game, ranking sixth in the league.
Another year of growth from the 23-year old Tua Tagovailoa could lead to bigger, more explosive plays for the Dolphins, especially when the lightning-quick Jaylen Waddle gets involved. If the same suffocating Buffalo defense shows up in Miami, Tua may have a tough time Rumbling with the Herd.
Buffalo Bills Week 2 game details, where to watch
- Sunday, September 19, 2021
- Start time: 1:00 PM ET
- TV channel - FOX
- Location - Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
What happened last time the Bills played the Dolphins?
Bills - 56
Dolphins - 26
Yes, that is an actual NFL score. In Week 17 of the 2020 football season, the Miami Dolphins traveled to Orchard Park to take on the Bills. It went great. Josh Allen was even able to catch a breather and see what football looked like from the perspective of the bench.
What’s most interesting about the final game of the regular season was that the Dolphins came into the matchup still fighting for a playoff spot.
By the time the second quarter began, the score was 0-3, Miami. After the second quarter? 28-6, Buffalo. Josh Allen took a seat, and Matt Barkley proceeded to double the scoring affair of the first half to help the Bills finish with a whopping 56 points, sending Miami home, ticked off missing the playoffs.
You can bet the Dolphins have had this first Bills matchup circled on their calendars ever since the NFL schedules came out on May 12. On top of being an AFC East divisional foe, the Dolphins are angry about this one.
Imagine feeling hopeful, having a chance to clinch the playoffs for the first time (for many of their players and coaches), only to be thoroughly embarrassed, caught with your pants down in the end? That’s the Miami Dolphins coming into this game. A chip on their shoulder doesn’t do it justice. It’s much bigger than that.
On another note, in 2020, the Dolphins played this game in Buffalo. This week, it’s played in Miami, in front of thousands of crazed Phinatics hoping to help cheer their team to victory. In other words, this win will not come easily for the Herd.
© Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Matchups to watch
- Bills WRs vs. Dolphins secondary
Just as the Steelers did, the Dolphins have some playmakers in their secondary. Led by two Pro Bowl cornerbacks Byron Jones and Xavien Howard, the Dolphins won’t make things easy on Josh Allen. He’ll have to be at his best to avoid throwing one to Howard, who led the NFL in interceptions both in 2017 and 2020.
No worries. Stefon Diggs is a nightmare for any secondary, and Allen won’t have T.J. Watt constantly breathing down his neck, giving Buffalo receivers more time to set up their routes. While the Dolphins have some top talent in the back end, they also have weaknesses that can be exploited, and the Bills have several weapons to deploy.
- Bills D-line vs. Dolphins O-line
Last week, the Bills made life miserable for Ben Roethlisberger and Najee Harris by overpowering a broken offensive line. Miami’s O-line isn’t any better. The Dolphins’ front five is mainly composed of young players with high upside.
2020 Pro Football Focus Dolphins OL grades
(Projected starting lineup in Week 2)
LT Austin Jackson - 52.3
LG Solomon Kindley - 51.3 or Liam Eichenberg (rookie) - 57.6 (2021 Week 1 grade playing LT)
C Michael Dieter - 54.2 (2021)
RG Robert Hunt - 65.8
RT Jesse Davis - 62.6
Austin Jackson missed the first week due to COVID protocols, but Dolphins’ coach Brian Flores reminded everyone, Jackson is their left tackle. We’ll see who plays left guard in Week 2.
As you can see, the Dolphins don’t have a great offensive lineman at any position. If the Bills can get after Tagovailoa early enough, they could rattle the young QB. Consider this quote from Tua’s Week 1 opponent, J.C Jackson.
The stats appear to back it up. According to ESPN, Tua was 0-4 with an interception when making throws under pressure in Week 1. With the Dolphins lacking OL talent, this positional matchup seems to favor the Bills.
- Bills DBs vs. Jaylen Waddle
Not all that different from the speed of Tyreek Hill, rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle possesses game-breaking ability. Few teams have a player that can run with Waddle step-by-step. The Bills will have to keep an eye or two on Waddle at all times to avoid letting up the big play.
Selected sixth overall out of Alabama, Waddle will get involved in a number of ways. Whether it’s on reverse runs or via the return game, the Dolphins will be sure to give their newest toy a chance. As mentioned above, if the Bills front seven can get to Tua, Waddle could largely be a non-factor.
Buffalo Bills Week 2 game prediction
- Last season’s record: Buffalo Bills 13-3, reached AFC Conference Championship
- Miami Dolphins 10-6, 2nd place in AFC East
Sportsbooks currently have the Bills favored to win by three points. The Bills were 6.5-point favorites a week ago. Basically, “Vegas” thinks the Bills have less chance to beat the Dolphins than they did to defeat Pittsburgh. But that may not necessarily be the case.
Miami couldn’t run the ball at all last season at 3.9 yards per tote and didn’t do much to address the issue. Last week, holding Najee Harris to 2.8 yards per carry showed the Bills’ D is already in midseason form. Stopping the Dolphins’ ground game shouldn’t be a problem.
The Dolphins are feeling good coming off a win, and the Bills need to avoid an 0-2 start. Playing an away game against a division rival coming off a loss, it would be natural for Allen to press a bit more. One of the biggest keys to the game could be winning the turnover battle.
With that said, Allen has the experience, and Tagovailoa, with just ten career starts, does not. There’s an early recipe for success. If the Bills can get ahead early, quiet the crowd, and make Tagovailoa uncomfortable, they can have a strong performance.
Game prediction: 31-17 Bills victory