Matchup:Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills
Date/Time: December 22nd, 1:00 PM ET
Spread: Miami -2.5
Week 16 of the NFL season is here! With all of the games on the docket each and every week, we are going to be zeroing in on just one side or total that we think is the best of the bunch. Join us today, look at the game on Sunday, December 22nd between the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were relatively unlucky last week not to do better against the San Francisco 49ers, which caused us to take one on the chin, but we’re going to try to make it back this week with the Bills against the Dolphins.
There really isn’t a whole heck of a lot on the line here for the Bills except their pride, and they truly have plenty of that. Head Coach Doug Marrone and his squad aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but this Buffalo team fights hard night in and night out, and there are bright things on the horizon for sure.
The Dolphins meanwhile, have everything to play for. The New England Patriots are still catchable in the AFC East, and there is a distinct possibility that the Pats are going to get beaten this weekend by the Baltimore Ravens. If that’s the case, things could get really, really tight in Week 17. More importantly though, Miami is two wins away from the playoffs, and anything less than that probably isn’t going to be good enough to get into the second season.
The first go around of the season for these two came back in October, and it had to be considered a bit surprising that the Bills pulled off the 23-21 upset with QB Thad Lewis, essentially the team’s fourth option under center, calling the shots. The Bills really didn’t get much of anything going offensively, but they did play well on the defensive side of the field, forcing three turnovers and making QB Ryan Tannehill uncomfortable in the pocket all day long.
That’s a key we are going to be hitting on again in this game. The Bills have one of the best front sevens in all of football in terms of rushing the passer, and they do so very aggressively. DE Mario Williams has a dozen sacks on the campaign, and he is one of the four men who have at least 7.5 sacks this year. In total, the Bills have 49 sacks, four more than anyone in the league. Why is that so notable in this game? Miami has the worst offensive line in terms of giving up sacks, getting Tannehill sacked 51 times on the season.
The cornerback position for the Dolphins is also starting to look precarious. DB Dimitri Patterson and DB RJ Stanford have both recently landed on IR, and DB Jamar Taylor has missed three straight games with a hamstring injury and seems poised to miss a fourth.
News broke on Wednesday that Lewis was going to get the start in place of the injured QB EJ Manuel, which could prove to be a real hassle for Buffalo. However, this isn’t nearly the first rodeo at this point for the former Duke Blue Devils standout, and his stats this year are every bit as good as Manuel’s. Lewis has completed 60.2 percent of his passes, is averaging 6.3 yards per pass attempt, and has an 80.2 quarterback rating. The bottom line is that we don’t think there is that much of a drop off, especially in this one individual game.
If nothing else, Mother Nature should play into the hands of the Bills. Manuel was a wreck in the one cold weather game which he played in against the Pittsburgh Steelers this year, and it’s tough to blame him. This is a man who is used to play in the Sunshine State from his days with the Florida State Seminoles. The Noles didn’t venture north for games all that often. Lewis at least played his college ball in North Carolina, and though he was playing against all of the same teams which Manuel played against in the ACC, at least he knows what it is like to be in these cold conditions.
We’re always worried about what happens when these warm weather teams come to the north to play in the cold. Miami has been one of the few teams which has actually adapted relatively well to the cold thus far this year, but this is a much different environment and will probably be the first time there is snow on the ground in a Dolphins game.
Our bottom line issue though, is that Miami is coming off of such a big win over New England. It just isn’t going to be able to stay this sky high for this game as well, and if the Bills sense any weakness whatsoever mentally in the Dolphins, the visitors are going to be in a lot of trouble. The Bills really looked the part of the better of these two teams the first time around, and we think that they are going to be issuing the deathblow to Miami’s season on Sunday just a week after the Fins put themselves back into a position to control their own destiny.
Week 16 NFL Pick of the Week: Buffalo Bills +2.5
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.