It must stink to be the Miami Dolphins. As they prepare for their Wild-Card matchup against the heavily favorite Bills at Orchard Park, the ‘Fins will have to hit the field without starting QB Tua Tagovailoa, who is still out because of a concussion.
But Miami’s QB conundrums don’t end there. Besides not being able to count on Tagovailoa, the Dolphins will also be without backup passer Teddy Bridgewater who is still battling to recover from an injury to a finger on his throwing hand and knee.
So what does that leave the Dolphins with to face off against Buffalo? Yes, rookie, 3rd string QB Skylar Thompson.
For the Bills, this matchup against Miami means only one thing, the beginning of their road to Super Bowl LVII. After being touted all season long as the overwhelming favorites in the AFC to reach the title game, for the Bills, the time to step up and prove that the hype was real has come.
With the Bills looking all sorts of good to go through to the divisional round of the AFC playoff race, can the Dolphins put up a strong enough fight to shock the conference and move forward?
Let’s check the latest NFL picks, stats, injury reports, and NFL predictions. We’ve plenty of NFL expert picks for you to consider.
Without Tua, What Will Miami Bring to the Table?
It must be daunting to know what’s going through the head of Thompson. Having to fill in for Tua is no easy feat, especially in an offense that looks like it was tailor-made for Tagovailoa. Still, with Bridgewater out of the picture as well, it will be up to Miami’s 7th-round draft pick this season to try and pull off what could easily be the biggest win of his career.
With Thompson leading Miami’s offense, the key to trying to have a strong outing will rely heavily on two things. One, playing a short and mid-range passing offense, where getting the ball out to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle as fast as possible will be essential. Once the ball is in their hands, Hill’s and Waddle’s handles and speed can do the rest.
Secondly, Miami will have to mix in a strong rushing attack to allow Thompson some breathing time in each drive.
The last time both teams played in December, Miami torched Buffalo’s defense with its rushing attack. With Raheem Mostert still not cleared to play because of a thumb injury, it will be up to Jeff Wilson Jr to try and put on another performance like the one Miami had in that game.
If the Dolphins have Mostert back, we could be talking about a pivotal factor to hoist Miami’s offense and give it a fighting chance. Without the Dolphins’ star rusher though, the road to a win might become much rockier.
Strong Defensive Performance Should Be Enough for Buffalo
We already know that Buffalo’s offense is full of studs. Led by players like Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, and Dawson Knox, from wherever you look, the Bills have enough playmakers to make any opposing defense want to go run and hide. It’s no wonder they are the 2nd ranked offense in the league.
But let’s leave that to the side for now and focus on what could end up being Buffalo’s key to winning: Banging up Miami’s already crackling offensive line and pressuring Thompson constantly.
Buffalo’s defense is poised to have a field day against Miami’s offense as long as it gains control at the line of scrimmage. By pressuring Thompson, as previously mentioned, and stuffing up the line to block Miami’s rushing routes, it will be hard for the Dolphins to get the ball to their receivers.
On offense, as long as Allen finds enough protection from his offensive line, it should be enough to rout Miami once again. With Miami most likely focusing all of its energy in the backfield trying to lock down Diggs and Knox, this is a perfect game for Davis to show up and show off.
If you look back at Davis’ last playoff game with the Bills, he stole the show with 201 yards and four TDs on eight catches. Now imagine what he can do if he gets rolling again facing Miami’s secondary.
Will Buffalo Hand Miami Its 5th Straight Postseason Loss?
I’m sorry Dolphins fans, but the chances of Thompson being able to lead Miami to a win on the road against Buffalo, and in the playoffs are slim, to not say that there aren’t any.
Sure, Miami will put up a worthy fight against Buffalo’s defense, but at the end of the day, Allen, Diggs, and company will be too much for Miami’s defense and secondary to handle.
In the freezing Buffalo weather, roll with the Bills to win and move forward in the playoffs.