Miami Dolphins (8-6 SU, 9-5 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bills (5-9 SU, 7-7 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date and Time: Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
TV: CBS/DTV 714
by Vesper Abadon, Pro Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mia -2.5/Buf +2.5
Over/Under Total: 43
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I never thought Id be saying this, but the Miami Dolphins
control their own destiny for the sixth seed in the AFC Playoffs. All they
have to do it win back-to-back divisional games against the Buffalo
Bills and New Yorks Jets and theyre in. That could prove easier
said than done though as the Fins travel to chilly upstate New York this
week to take on the Bills, a team they lost to 23-21 back in Week 7. The
Dolphins obviously have more on their minds than just revenge, but rest
assured the Bills are looking to play spoiler.
Miami is coming off perhaps their biggest win in half a decade (they beat the Patriots 24-20), which was also a career game for the rapidly maturing Ryan Tannehill, who went 25-of-37 for 312 yards (8.43 yards per attempt), three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Despite being sack a league-high 51 times, Tannehill is coming into his own.
Of course hes got a great supporting cast around him in Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Charles Clay. Wallace, AKA Oceans 11, stepped up against the Patriots catching six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, which included a momentum-building 39-yard score at the end of the first half. One things for sure, if the Dolphins are going to make a run at the Playoffs, Wallace will need to keep his foot on the gas.
Likewise, Brian Hartline was as reliable as ever catching five receptions for 70 yards, while tight end Charles Clay was held to a single catch good thing it was for six yards on a game-deciding fourth and five! Put it all together and youll discover the Dolphins have the 17th-best passing game in the league averaging 233.9 yards per game (YPG).
Unfortunately the Dolphins have an inconsistent run game, ranked 24th in the league with 95.3 rush YPG. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have shouldered the load, but neither has really shined. On the flip side, the Bills are superb on the ground averaging 138.2 YPG good enough for 4th in the NFL — thanks to the deadly combination of C.J. Spiller (162 carries for 745 yards and two touchdowns) and Fred Jackson (174 carries for 725 yards and seven touchdowns).
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Unlike the Dolphins, the Bills struggle in the passing game and are ranked a lowly 29th in the league with an average of 192.3 passing YPG. When the Bills won earlier in the year it was quarterback Thad Lewis under center, but now that rookie EJ Manuel is all healed up he’s the starter. The 6’4″, 237 lbs. 16th-overall selection has gone 180-of-306 for 1,972 yards, 11 touchdowns, and nine interceptions – good for a 77.7 rating. His top receivers? That’d be Steve Johnson (52 receptions for 597 yards and three touchdowns) and Scott Chandler (48 receptions for 569 yards and two scores).
Defensively the teams aren’t too far apart. The Dolphins allow an average of 356.1 YPG (238.9 passing YPG & 117.2 rushing YPG) while the Bills hold opponents to 346.4 YPG (219.1 passing YPG & 127.3 rushing YPG). That said, the Bills do allow an average of 25.3 points per game while the Dolphins only allow 21.1.
Vesper’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Dolphins aren’t the same team they were back in Week 7. Right now they’re hungry, confident, and aggressive. Last week their offense moved the ball with ease, and if they can hold that swagger they may very well run over the Bills.
Speaking of running over things, the Dolphins’ best chance of winning will be to contain the Bills’ RBs and force Manuel to take to the air. If they do that, mistakes will be made and the scoring opportunities will present themselves. Finally, the weather could play a big role in this game, but as of right now the forecast calls for it to be a modest 43 — in other words a nonfactor unless a cold front breezes in. It’s not going to be a cakewalk, but I like Miami in this game.