In a matchup of two AFC powerhouses, the Miami Dolphins travel to Orchard Park to battle the Buffalo Bills. Fresh off a historic Week 3, Tua Tagovailoa and company beatdown the Denver Broncos in a 70-20 rout. The team recorded 726 yards of total offense, the most in franchise history and nine yards shy of the NFL record set by the Los Angeles Rams in 1951.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills are beginning to roll after their Week 1 slip-up against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. Picking up a win over the Washington Commanders on Sunday, Buffalo ran away with a 37-3 victory. Making life miserable for Sam Howell, they forced the rookie quarterback into four interceptions while sacking him nine times. With the top spot in the AFC East on the line, here is what to watch for in this potential game-of-the-year candidate.
The hottest offense in the NFL, Miami became the first team in nearly half a century to score 70 points a week ago. Led on the ground by their running back tandem of Raheem Mostert and rookie De’Von Achane, the duo combined for 375 yards and eight touchdowns. Now, in the top five of every major statistical category, the Dolphins are averaging a league-high 8.4 yards per play. Furthermore, they also rank first in passing yards per game (362), red zone touchdown percentage (78.57%), and first downs per game (27.3). More importantly, the group has kept Tagovailoa upright after coming into the year with concerns along the offensive line. They have surrendered just one sack through three weeks.
Under the guidance of Vic Fangio, Miami made the former Broncos head coach the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the league. Helping to turn around one of the NFL's most disappointing units in 2022, the Dolphins rank 20th in the NFL in yards per game (23.7) and 13th in passing yards per attempt (6.1). Furthermore, they have also forced five takeaways in their first three games. Set to have their hands full with Josh Allen and the high-powered Buffalo offense, Miami has struggled to slow down the former seventh-overall pick during his young career. Highlighted by a three-touchdown performance in the 2020 season finale, Allen has gone 8-2 against Miami in 10 career starts while averaging nearly 270 passing yards, combined with a passer rating of 106.1.
After being knocked off by the Jets in Week 1, the Bills have begun to roll over the last few weeks. Following a 38-10 beatdown of the Las Vegas Raiders, the team ran away from the Commanders on Sunday in a game that was never close. Led by their star quarterback, Allen completed 20 of his 32 passes for 218 yards. He found nine different receivers, including a 35-yard touchdown strike to Gabriel Davis. Along with this, Buffalo's running game had another effective day on the ground. James Cook carried the ball 15 times for 98 yards, including a 34-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter. The key to slowing down the Dolphins' strong passing attack, Sean McDermott and his group now have four runs of ten yards or more in the last two halves.
Buffalo's defense has picked up right where they left off a year ago. Currently the number two scoring unit through the early parts of the 2023 season, the team also ranks second in sacks and first in interceptions while leading the league in pressure percentage (50.6%). Dominating the Commanders on Sunday, linebacker Terrel Bernard led the way in the finest performance of his young career. All over the field, the rookie recorded one interception, two sacks, seven total tackles, one pass breakup, and a fumble recovery. Needing to get pressure up the middle if they hope to disrupt Tagovailoa, the former fifth-overall pick leads the NFL in average time to pass (2.34 seconds) while throwing to his first read more than 80 percent of the time.
Date: October 1
Start Time: 1:00 EST
Location: Orchard Park, NY
Stadium: Highmark Stadium
TV Info: CBS (Jim Nantz and Tony Romo on the call)
Points Spread: MIA +2.5 (+100) | BUF -2.5 (-120)
Moneyline: MIA +130 | BUF -150
Over/Under: O 45.0 (-110) | U 45.0 (-110)
Looking at the 2.5 spread, take the Bills to cover along with the over in a game full of fireworks. The talk of the NFL through the early parts of the season, Miami's offense has looked unstoppable through three weeks. They dropped 70 points on the Broncos without their second-best receiver, Jaylen Waddle, who missed the game with a concussion. However, the team has yet to face a front seven as fierce as Buffalo's. Furthermore, after a lackluster performance in Week 1, Allen is beginning to roll. The AFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 2, he has put together some of the finest performances of his career against the Dolphins. This includes 11 straight games with two-plus passing touchdowns.
In a battle for the top spot in the AFC East, the Dolphins aim to improve to 4-0 when they travel to Orchard Park to battle the Bills on Sunday. Tearing up teams behind the MVP-caliber play of Tagovailoa, Miami is just the 27th team since 1990 to average more than 35 points per game through the first three weeks of a season. Nonetheless, with two of those games coming against the Los Angeles Chargers and the lowly Broncos, the team has yet to face a defense the caliber of Buffalo's. Moreover, with Allen beginning to roll over the last two weeks, look for the home team to win a game that could come down to the final possession.
Final Score: Buffalo Bills 34, Miami Dolphins 31
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