Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills Prediction
Miami Dolphins (10-5 SU, 11-4 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bills (12-3 SU, 10-5 ATS)
When: Sunday, January 3, 1 p.m.
Where: Bills Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y.
Total: O/U 44.5
The big question here is, how is Buffalo choosing to approach this game? Week 17 bets are the hardest to hit in the NFL when you have a team that’s already clinched a playoff spot, and that’s exactly what we’ve got with the Bills, who already know that they’ll be playing at least their opener at home for the first time since 1996. We know that the Dolphins will be fighting for their playoff lives, but we don’t know what the Bills will do because they might or might not have something to play for.
Buffalo is currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC, but should Pittsburgh beat Cleveland, the Bills would have to defeat the Dolphins in order to secure the second seed and playing the first two rounds of the playoffs at home. However, the Steelers have announced that Mason Rudolph and not Ben Roethlisberger will play, giving the apparent edge to the Browns. But given that the Browns just lost to the Jets, the Bills might not want to put all of their chips on Cleveland winning on Sunday.
For Miami, the equation is simple: win, and they’re in. Should they pull it off, they’ll be the No. 5 seed in the AFC and get a comfortable matchup against either Tennessee in a moderate climate or Indianapolis indoors. Lose, and they can still get in as long as Baltimore or Cleveland or Indianapolis gets beat, but they’ll either be right back in Buffalo or have to travel to Pittsburgh, which likely means low temperatures and possibly snow. It’s not a situation a young team from South Florida wants to face in the playoffs, which is why the Dolphins will be playing their hardest to pull off a win and get the best weather and matchup possible in the postseason.
How the Public is Betting the Miami/Buffalo Game
The public thinks the Bills’ starters will play, as 54 percent of tickets are on the Bills, but the sharps think the Bills will rest their starters, which has sent the line down from -5.5 to -2. The total has fallen from 48 to 44.5.
Cornerback Xavien Howard (shoulder), tight end Mike Gesicki (shoulder), safety Kavon Frazier (shoulder), offensive lineman Ereck Flowers (ankle), safety Bobby McCain (ankle), wide receiver Devante Parker (hamstring), guard Solomon Kindley (knee) and defensive end Shaq Lawson (shoulder) are questionable. Wide receiver Jakeem Grant (ankle) and linebacker Elandon Roberts (knee) are out.
Guard Jon Feliciano (illness) and tight end Reggie Gilliam (knee) are questionable. Wide receiver Cole Beasley (leg) is doubtful, while running back T.J. Yeldon (back) and wide receiver John Brown (ankle) are out.
When Miami Has the Ball
The big question for Miami is will the Dolphins stick with Tua Tagovailoa? The rookie from Alabama remains the starter, but the Dolphins have suggested that they will be ready to switch to Ryan Fitzpatrick should the situation warrant it. Truthfully, they should probably go ahead and make the switch anyway after Fitzpatrick pulled the game out of the fire in Las Vegas to put Miami in this situation in the first place. Tagovailoa will likely get better after his rookie season, but the Dolphins have an opportunity now, and Fitzpatrick has yet to make the playoffs even once in his 16-year career.
Throw in that Miami really has no running game behind it, and it’s hard to see how the Dolphins get things going short of either Tagovailoa figuring out the offense or the Dolphins switching to Fitzpatrick. Miami could also be down two of its best pass-catchers, as DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki are banged up and might find themselves limited or even out of action on Sunday. It’s looking like the Dolphins either need a new game plan or need to win with defense.
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When Buffalo Has the Ball
I’ll be honest: I’m completely throwing darts on this one because we have no idea what Buffalo is going to look like. If the Bills have their regular offense on the field, the Dolphins will have their hands full because Josh Allen has blossomed into a quality NFL quarterback. Throw in Stefon Diggs at wideout, and it’s easy to see why the Bills have finally dethroned the Patriots and become the AFC East champions.
But with Cole Beasley and John Brown banged up, look for the Bills to try to get out of this game as quickly as possible and without taking on any additional injuries. This isn’t a game that the Bills need unless the Steelers come through against the Browns, so unless the Bills really want to just knock out the Dolphins, expect a heavy dose of Zack Moss and Devin Singletary as Buffalo tries to keep the clock bleeding from start to finish. Buffalo’s main goal here is to get the No. 2 seed with as little cost as possible, and that means Matt Barkley is likely to see significant time.
The good news for the Dolphins is that they tend to get the job done against the AFC East. They’ve covered in their past four against division rivals, and they’re 16-5 ATS overall when they’ve been the underdog. But the Bills have been like a trip to the ATM for gamblers as of later, as they’ve cashed on the spread in seven straight games and have covered four straight when they’ve been favored. Plus, going to western New York hasn’t really been a great trip for the Dolphins, as they’ve managed to cover just twice in their past eight visits to Buffalo.
Interestingly, the past five Dolphins’ visits to western New York have actually been conducive to scoring, as they’ve all gone over the total.
This isn’t likely to be a great situation for Miami, as this is Buffalo’s kind of weather. Temperatures will be around 39 degrees at kickoff, with the weather turning to snow and six-mile per hour wind heading south.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Buffalo doesn’t want to be here, and Miami has the wrong quarterback starting if the goal is to actually win the game. This screams two things to me: go for the under and wait to live bet the spread until you see how the teams look. I would not touch this game until 11:30 a.m. Eastern on Sunday, no matter how juicy the number seems, because we just don’t know what the Bills are going to do with their roster.
Based on the belief that Allen will play at least part of the game, I have to take the Bills and eat the chalk here. But again, I wouldn’t do it until I know for sure whether he’ll play. Where are you betting your NFL games? You can get a 50% real cash bonus up to $250, rebates on ALL your bets; win, lose or draw and FAST hassle-free payouts at Bovada Sportsbook! What more could you ask for!
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