GAME PREDICTIONS

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Game Predictions | Bills vs. Dolphins | Wild Card Weekend

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The Bills are 13.5 point favorites this week according to Caesars Sportsbook as the team prepares to host the Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium on Sunday during Wild Card Weekend.

Here's a list of game predictions from NFL analysts.

The Dolphins limped to the finish line. If Teddy Bridgewater was starting this game, much less Tua Tagovailoa, I'd give the Dolphins a chance to attack Buffalo's weaknesses in the secondary. If Skylar Thompson starts this game, take a touchdown away from Miami. The familiarity here could also help Miami, a division matchup in which it already played the Bills even twice.

The Dolphins have enough pass rushers up front (Christian Wilkins, Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips) to bother Josh Allen, although consider it a bad sign he was back to World's Destroyer Mode last week against the Patriots. Keep an eye on the injury report here beyond quarterback. Left tackle Terron Armstead's status remains uncertain, and Xavien Howard didn't look 100 percent last week after missing Week 17 with a knee injury.

Prediction: Bills 27, Dolphins 11

Dolphins (+13) at Bills

MDS's take: If Tua Tagovailoa were healthy, this would be an intriguing first-round matchup. Without Tua, it's hard to see the Dolphins even keeping it close against a Bills team that is strong in all phases of the game.

MDS's pick: Bills 28, Dolphins 13.

Florio's take: Josh Allen vs. Skylar Thompson. Sometimes, you don't need to say anything more.

Florio's pick: Bills 34, Dolphins 17.

I picked the Bills to win the Super Bowl before the season, but I will admit there have been a bunch of times this year where I've watched them and thought, "They don't look quite right to me." Then I'd go to the numbers, which suggest they're exactly the team a lot of people expected them to be. Some examples:

  • They're first in DVOA and the only team to rank in the top five in offense, defense, and special teams.
  • Their plus-169 point differential is second in the NFL and first in the AFC.
  • Their three losses have been by a combined eight points.
  • No team has beaten them by more than a field goal.

The Bills are not perfect. No team is. I wish their offensive line was a little better. I wish they had more weapons besides Stefon Diggs. I wish they were a little more stable at cornerback. I wish Von Miller didn't get injured. But you know what? They're still really, really good. Josh Allen's A-plus game is as good as any quarterback in the NFL. And when Allen makes mistakes, he usually finds a way to make up for them.

When these two teams last faced each other in Week 15, the Bills produced 446 yards of offense and 29 first downs on a cold and snowy night. I don't think Miami's defense is good enough to stop Buffalo. And offensively, it looks like the Dolphins are preparing to roll with Skylar Thompson at quarterback.

I usually hate going with a side that it feels like everyone's going to be on. There's a scenario in which the Bills turn the ball over, and the Dolphins stay within striking distance. But Buffalo generally plays with an aggressive, "step on their throat" mentality. That stadium's going to be electric. I like the Bills in a blowout.

The pick: Bills (-13.5)

What to watch for: The season series was split between the Bills and Dolphins, but the Dolphins are coming into this meeting injured in a big way. Not only has quarterback Tua Tagovailoa been ruled out with rookie Skylar Thompson preparing to start, but running back Raheem Mostert's status is uncertain after he underwent surgery on a broken thumb Monday. Mostert ran for 136 yards against the Bills when the teams played in Buffalo last month. With a banged-up offense, the Dolphins will likely have a tough time matching the No. 2 home scoring offense in the NFL. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Bold prediction: Thompson will do everything he can in his first career playoff start, throwing for at least 270 yards and two touchdowns without turning the ball over. The Dolphins may lose Sunday, but it won't be because of the 2022 seventh-round pick. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Stat to know: Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle had 100 receiving yards in each of the team's two regular-season games against the Bills. Only one player in the past 20 seasons has gained 100-plus receiving yards in three straight against Buffalo (Rob Gronkowski, 2011-12).

Bowen's game-plan key: Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey should take advantage of Miami's heavy usage of single-high defensive alignments by getting receiver Stefon Diggs downfield on glance/skinny post routes and letting Josh Allen deliver some deep shots off play-action.

Betting nugget: Since 2014, underdogs are 8-2 against the spread when division opponents meet in the playoffs.

Moody's pick: Bills 35, Dolphins 20

Walder's pick: Bills 30, Dolphins 10

The quarterback situation is in flux for Miami, but I don't think it matters who plays. The Dolphins played well in losing to the Bills late in the season, but that won't be the case here. Josh Allen and the offense will light up the Dolphins defense, while the Bills will limit the Miami big plays. The Bills will be moving on.

Pick: Bills 34, Dolphins 21

These A.F.C. East teams split their two meetings this season, and both games were hard-fought affairs. Whether this game will be a repeat of those performances largely depends on Miami's injury situation. The line for this game was as low as 9 points on rumors that Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa would play. Tagovailoa was ruled out with his second concussion in eight weeks, and the line climbed as high as 13.5 on the news that the Dolphins planned to start the rookie seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson.

In the regular-season finale against the Jets, Thompson was limited to screen plays and designed runs rather than deeper passes on key third- and fourth-down plays. Miami pulled off an ugly 11-6 victory despite not scoring a single touchdown. Along the way, running back Raheem Mostert broke a thumb. The Dolphins average 25.5 points per game when Tagovailoa plays and 16.3 when he doesn't, so don't expect a hobbled Miami to put up much offense against a second-ranked defense in below-freezing temperatures (The forecast is 24 degrees at kickoff.).

The spread is high, but should be manageable for a Bills team that will likely show out for a home crowd that could include their teammate Damar Hamlin.

Pick: Bills -12.5

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