Image Credit: © Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
It was a tough week in Week 7 for Buffalo Bills Fans. With no local professional football team to watch, many had to find other games to pique our interest.
The worst part about the bye week break was that the Bills lost their Week 6 game. We couldn’t even enter the bye with full excitement, instead left wondering what could have been had that grass not given out from under Josh Allen’s cleats.
Not to worry, the AFC East is still complete trash outside of your Rumbling Herd. Sure, the New England Patriots managed to get to 3-4, but let’s be honest. Two of their three wins have come against the New York Jets. The other win? Over the now 1-6 Houston Texans.
While they may only be slightly ahead of the Pats in the official standings, the actual gap is much more significant.
It’s back to focusing on their Week 8 opponent, the Miami Dolphins, who are in complete shambles right now.
Tua Tagovailoa just returned from injury in Week 6, and he’s been playing much better in these past two games than he did to start the year. However, they still lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlanta Falcons, two teams who will likely be picking in the top 10-15 picks in April.
Miami’s 1-6 record is a bit unfair. They’re better than their record indicates, but not by much. In the four games, Tua has started this season, three have been lost by three or fewer points. The other was the Bills game, where the Buffalo defense knocked Tua out of commission.
Buffalo Bills Week 8 game details, where to watch
- Sunday, October 31, 2021
- Start time: 1:00 PM ET
- TV channel - CBS
- Location - Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York
© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
What happened last time the Bills played the Miami Dolphins?
I hope many of you remember the Buffalo Bills’ last time squished the Phish because it was just six weeks ago. And it was an awesome game for any Bills Fan. Shutting out the Dolphins 35-0 gave this Buffalo team the confidence it needed to dominate their next three opponents.
Fans witnessed Buffalo’s rotation of rushers thwart any chance the Dolphins had to gain momentum, even knocking Tua Tagovailoa out of the game after fracturing his ribs.
The win gave the Bills their sixth consecutive win over the Dolphins. A streak they hope to continue this week.
Matchups to watch
- Josh Allen vs. Xavien Howard (cornerback)
Maybe the Bills will get lucky, and the Dolphins will trade Xavien Howard before this game. If not, Josh Allen and his receivers will have to be sharp, not allowing the X-Man to get his hands on any passes.
Already with two interceptions this season, Howard has twice led the NFL in picks and earned Pro Bowl honors both years. Oddly enough, the Dolphins currently only have one other player ever to make a Pro Bowl roster, and that is his fellow cornerback, Byron Jones, unless you count their kicker Jason Sanders, who was named an All-Pro last season.
Since Xavien Howard is a ball-hawk and intercepting Josh Allen seems to present the Dolphins with their best chance to keep this game close, don’t expect Allen to test Howard too much this week. But then again, it went well in Week 2, when Stefon Diggs’ Mossed’ Howard for an incredible catch near the sideline. Let’s hope for more of that.
- Gregory Rousseau vs. Jaelan Phillips
I’m cheating again. This isn’t a one-on-one matchup as much as it’s a performance gauge. In April, we couldn’t stop debating who the better prospect was, Gregory Rousseau or Jaelan Phillips? Since they’re much better than the Phish, the Bills never got a chance to select Phillips as the Dolphins beat them to the punch, drafting him 18th overall.
The Bills didn’t flinch when it came time to make their selection, turning in the card for Gregory Rousseau at No. 30. How have the two pass-rushers fared so far?
Phillips has played 244 snaps, 49% of his team’s defensive plays, starting three out of their seven games to keep things fair.
Rousseau has played 188 snaps, 51% of his team’s defensive plays, starting all six of his games played.
As you can see, their playing time is nearly identical, with Phillips having the advantage of playing one more game due to the Bills already having their bye week.
Jaelan Phillips stats - 17 TKL, 1 TFL, 1.5 sacks
Gregory Rousseau stats - 20 TKL, 4 TFL, 3 sacks
You will be hard-pressed to find anyone saying Phillips has had the better start to his career. In fact, you’d probably have to drive to Miami and painstakingly strike up a conversation with a Dolphins fan to do so. That is if you can find any.
Even Pro Football Focus has graded Rousseau (62.5) higher than Phillips (52.3). We’ll see how each team’s offensive line units hold up, but I like Rousseau’s chances more than I do for Phillips.
- Tua Tagovailoa vs. Bills pass-rush
Tua Tagovailoa has played much better in his past two games, throwing for 620 yards while completing an astonishing 74.7% of his passes. He’s also thrown six touchdowns and three interceptions in that span.
So while he’s shown his trademark accuracy, he’s still giving defenses a chance to capitalize on turnovers. One of the players he’s been having success with is his former Alabama teammate in college, the speedy Jaylen Waddle.
The first time these two teams played was early in the season. Waddle couldn’t get anything going as he was still adjusting to the speed of the NFL level. He had six catches for 48 yards. Getting Tua back must have lit a fuse, as Waddle has generated 153 receiving yards his past two games.
With the top speed to make any defense look foolish with even the slightest mistake, Waddle presents a challenge, but it’s one the Bills are prepared to face. Boasting one of the best secondaries in the NFL, paired with a top defensive mind in defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, handling Waddle once again shouldn’t cause too many headaches on Sunday.
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills Week 8 game prediction
- Last season’s record: Buffalo Bills 13-3, reached AFC Conference Championship
- Miami Dolphins 10-6, second place in AFC East
Ahead of their Week 2 matchup in Miami, who my fellow Bills Fans pointed out don’t really have fans in the stadium :), the Dolphins were favored by 3.5 points. That’s not the case for the rematch in Buffalo this week, where the home team actually has passionate fans.
Vegas oddsmakers have set the betting line anywhere from -11.5 up to -13.5, with those points fluctuating every day up until kickoff.
In a game where the Bills should be viewed as heavy favorites, despite their Week 2 blowout, expecting another intra-divisional blowout by more than 11.5 points seems far-fetched but not out of reach.
The only part concerning me in this game is the added fire Tua Tagovailoa is playing with at the moment. With the Dolphins constantly flirting with the idea of trading for Deshaun Watson, Tagovailoa is taking it personally, even if he won’t admit it.
He wants to be the franchise QB in Miami. Hearing these questions can’t be fun, yet nobody can fault the Dolphins for wanting to potentially add a game-changing quarterback when Tua just hasn’t been.
In the end, the Bills will show they are the far better team, led by the best young quarterback in the NFL. Miami won’t be able to contain the explosive, multi-faceted offense Brian Daboll is calling, and the Buffalo pass rush will once again overwhelm Miami up front.
Game prediction: 35-17 Bills victory
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