NFL Picks & Previews – Bills and Dolphins in Early AFC East Showdown
For a while, things looked very bleak for the Miami Dolphins against the Baltimore Ravens last week. They went into the fourth quarter down 35-14, and they had very little in the way of answers for quarterback Lamar Jackson.
But then suddenly, things changed. Tua Tagovailoa started to catch fire, throwing four touchdown passes in the final period, including strikes of 60 and 48 yards to Tyreek Hill. Jaylen Waddle caught a seven-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left to give the Dolphins a dramatic 42-38 victory.
Dolphins like to think this is a sign of things to come from their newly designed offense behind first-year head coach Mike McDaniel. But the truth of the matter is, there is a top dog in the AFC East, and it’s the Buffalo Bills, who have cut a swath through two opponents thus far. And those aren’t just any opponents; they scored routs over the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and the Tennessee Titans, who were the top seed in the AFC playoffs last year.
BetOnline customers will have the opportunity to watch Miami and Buffalo battle it out for first place in the division when these teams meet at 1 PM. Eastern time at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
Tua has been a rather controversial figure since he arrived in Miami. He has endured a lot of criticism from those who think he may be too small, or has too weak of an arm, or doesn’t make good decisions. But the fact of the matter is that, even though he was intercepted twice, he got rid of the ball quickly, suffering only one sack with 469 yards with six touchdowns on the day.
The acquisition of Hill from Kansas City has certainly been a game-changer, and now Miami can boast a pair of wide receivers (with Waddle) that are as fast as any in the NFL. Hill had 190 yards and Waddle 171 in Sunday’s win.
In the odds through which we will do our picks at BetOnline, a leading NFL sportsbook, the Bills are favored on the road:-
Buffalo Bills -4.5 (-112)
Miami Dolphins +4.5 (-108)
Over 53 points -115
Under 53 points -105
Buffalo has outscored its two opponents by a total of 72-17, and they have done it with a combination of big plays from wide receiver Stefon Diggs, the dual-threat of quarterback Josh Allen, and a defense that just won’t quit.
Buffalo currently leads the NFL in yards allowed per drive at 20.48. So they are not even letting teams get started. The way they terrorized Matthew Stafford in the season opener was a sight to see, as the Rams could not keep free agent acquisition, Von Miller out of the backfield.
One of the keys to this matchup is the fact that Buffalo’s scheme on defense is designed to take away the big play. So we are not necessarily expecting that Tua will be able to launch the bomb with a lot of success.
That’s okay, however; last season, when he was getting absolutely no protection from his offensive line, he became rather adept at throwing the ball underneath, ranking as one of the leaders in completion percentage. And between Hill and Waddle, they can do an awful lot of damage after the catch as well.
McDaniel came in not only looking to upgrade the speed on this team but to establish a ground attack. The jury is still out on that, but it must be noted that rushing the football is a major priority for the guy who was previously the offensive coordinator in San Francisco. They acquired some capable tailbacks, and it’s quite possible this is one area where the Dolphins can attack Buffalo.
The Bills are formidable enough that, after a season in which they led the NFL, allowing just 5.5 yards per pass attempt, they are at 4.6 right now. They beat the Dolphins handily twice last season, so perhaps if you’re playing on the side, they might rate an edge. But it may be hard to contain Tua’s array of weapons entirely for 60 minutes. And let’s keep in mind that the Bills have tallied more points per drive than any team in the NFL.
So perhaps our best plan of attack is to go with the total here, and in that regard, we’re playing OVER.
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