Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins
Line: Buffalo -7
Where: Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, New York
When: Saturday, 12/17 at 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network
The Buffalo Bills will be looking to clinch a playoff berth when they face the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night.
Buffalo enters Week 15 with a two-game lead over Miami in the AFC East standings, so it can move to three games ahead with three weeks remaining if it takes care of business at home, essentially clinching the division title. The Bills tend beat the Dolphins in Orchard Park, winning nine of the last 10 meetings at Highmark Stadium. Miami got the better of Buffalo in September, though, springing a 21-19 upset as a 4-point home underdog.
Oddsmakers have not let that game influence the line for this one very much, opening Buffalo as a 7.5-point favorite. The early betting action has dropped the spread down to -7, but this would still be the first time that the Dolphins have been underdogs of at least a touchdown since last November. Saturday night’s total opened at 47.5 and has been bet down to 44 points as of early Friday morning.
Miami was sitting alone atop the AFC East last month, but it could fall out of a playoff spot entirely with a loss on Saturday. The Dolphins are coming off consecutive losses to the 49ers and Chargers on the West Coast, so they will be wrapping up a three-game road trip on a short week.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill accounted for both of Miami’s touchdowns in the 23-17 loss to Los Angeles last week, with one of them coming on a fumble recovery that he ran 57 yards for a score. He wound up leaving later in the game with an ankle injury, but he is expected to play on Saturday.
Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has completed less than half of his throws during the last two games, but the Dolphins still rank seventh in the NFL in yards per game (367.8). He has completed 65.5% of his passes for 3,004 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions overall this season. Second-leading receiver Jaylen Waddle has caught just three passes in Miami’s last two games.
They are facing a Buffalo defense that ranks second in the NFL in points allowed per game, which has led to the ‘under’ cashing in nine of its last 11 games. The Bills have done that despite having an offense that is second in the league in yards and fourth in points, although they have scored 28 or less in five of their last seven games.
They were held to a season-low 232 yards and 14 first downs in last week’s 20-12 win over the Jets, as they failed to cover the 10-point spread. Quarterback Josh Allen threw for just 147 yards, marking the sixth time in seven games that he has thrown for 253 yards or less—wide receiver Stefon Diggs was held to three catches for 37 yards.
Allen has completed 63.8% of his passes for 3,553 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while also rushing for 628 yards and six touchdowns. Diggs has been his top target, catching 94 passes for 1,239 yards and 10 scores.
Miami has struggled to cover the spread away from home, going 1-5 against the spread in its last six road games. Buffalo is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games, but it has won nine of its last 10 home games. These teams have gone ‘over’ the total in 10 of their last 15 head-to-head meetings.
The pick: Miami +7
Buffalo just hasn’t been consistent enough for me to back when the point spread is this large against a quality opponent. The Bills have only won one of their last six games by double digits, losing to the Jets and Vikings during that stretch. Their offense has fallen off since their red-hot start to the season, and their defense took a big hit when Von Miller went down with a season-ending injury. Miami is in desperate need of a win on Saturday, and it has enough weapons to give itself a shot down the stretch of this game against a Buffalo team that has covered the spread twice in its last seven games.