Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
If America adopts a favorite team on the road to the Super Bowl, it will be the Bills. Less than a week after safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati in a life-threatening situation, Buffalo rode an emotional wave in front of its home fans in a 35-23 victory over New England that secured the AFC’s No. 2 seed for the Bills and eliminated the Patriots.
In a surreal scene, Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, and in the third quarter, Hines raced 101 yards for another kickoff-return touchdown. Josh Allen also passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns for the Bills, who can settle into a more normal routine this week while Hamlin is on an encouraging road to recovery.
Miami stopped a five-game losing streak and played its way into the postseason with some sweat, grinding out an 11-6 victory over the Jets in Week 18. Third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson, a rookie seventh-round pick, did just enough by passing for 152 yards and taking only one sack. The Dolphins scored on three Jason Sanders field goals and a safety, and it’s obvious that ugly offense is not going to be a winning formula for Miami in Buffalo.
Will the Dolphins be able to start Teddy Bridgewater? The answer will come from coach Mike McDaniel this week. Bridgewater is recovering from a dislocated finger on his throwing hand. Starting QB Tua Tagovailoa was declared out on Wednesday.
Tagovailoa turned in one of his finest performances in a 32-29 loss at Buffalo on Dec. 17, when he passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns and staked the Dolphins to a 29-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. In addition to the quarterback questions, Miami hopes running back Raheem Mostert will be able to play after breaking a thumb last week. He rushed for 136 yards against the Bills last month, and Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. combined for 143 rushing yards in Week 18. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been slowed by an ankle injury that is considered minor.
When Miami beat the Bills 21-19 in Week 3, Allen passed for 400 yards and Buffalo had a huge advantage in total yards (497-212). DraftKings opened the Bills as 10.5-point favorites in the teams’ third meeting, and Buffalo was up to a 13-point favorite off the news that Tua wouldn't play. While the Dolphins limp into the playoffs, the Bills are an inspired team.