Game: Miami Dolphins (2-0) vs. Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Date/Time/TV: September 25th, 2022 / 1:00 PM ET / CBS
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
SB Nation: Buffalo Rumblings | @BuffRumblings
Both teams enter this Week 3 matchup at 2-0, with the Dolphins are coming off a historic 42-38 comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens, while the Bills humiliated the Tennessee Titans 41-7 on Monday Night Football in Week 2.
The Dolphins have lost 7 straight games against the Bills, and haven’t been able to stop Josh Allen since he entered the league. Even this early into the season, Sunday’s game may decide the fate of the AFC East, and expectations will be sky-high for both teams.
Who’s Got The Edge?
QB - Bills. Tua Tagovailoa may be the NFL’s hottest QB right now, but Josh Allen is still Josh Allen. Having thrown for 35+ touchdowns and 4,400+ yards in each of the last 2 seasons, Allen is playing at the level that Tagovailoa aspires to reach. While Tagovailoa may reach that level one day, it’s far too early to entertain a debate right now.
RB - Dolphins. On the basis of depth, Miami takes the edge here. Devin Singletary has posted the best numbers across both teams (870 yards & 7 touchdowns last year), but is often secondary to Josh Allen in Buffalo’s running game. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have 2 solid running-backs in Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, both of whom can gash a defense for 50+ yards at any given moment. As a unit, Miami is slightly better.
WR - Dolphins. Tyreek Hill + Jaylen Waddle > Stefon Diggs. End of discussion, next.
TE - Dolphins. Dawson Knox is one of the league’s better TEs, and was it not for a slight resurgence last week from Mike Gesicki, I’d probably be giving the edge to Buffalo here.
But after posting 4 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, there’s hope that Mike McDaniel has carved out a new role for Gesicki. If Gesicki is used primarily in the passing game and isn’t asked to block, the Dolphins have the edge here.
OL - Bills. The Dolphins have performed exceptionally in the trenches over the first two weeks of the season, but memories of last season’s horrendous offensive-line play are still fresh. The Bills’ offensive line has not only started the season well, but has shown more as a unit since the beginning of last year. For now, they have the slight edge over Miami.
DL - Bills. While there’s not much to separate the two teams here, the Bills have gotten off to a much faster start this season, racking up 9 sacks (2nd-most) and allowing the fewest rush yards (132) in the league. The Dolphins have plenty of talent on the defensive line with Jaelen Phillips, Emmanuel Ogbah, Christian Wilkins, and Zach Sieler, but just haven’t shown it yet this season.
LB - Bills. Neither group is particularly special, but Buffalo’s Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are slightly better individually, both in terms of coverage as well as tackling ability. I say this every week, but until Miami’s linebackers improve in coverage (extremely important in today’s NFL) and can get to the quarterback without additional help, there’s not much to write home about.
DB - Dolphins. Even if Buffalo’s secondary was fully healthy, I’d probably still be giving Miami the edge. Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, and Jevon Holland are a scarily talented group, and can toe-to-toe with any other secondary in the league.
However, Buffalo won’t have starting safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer on Sunday, and will also be without starting corners Dane Jackson and TreDavious White, all of whom are battling injuries. If there was a debate to be had, there isn’t anymore.
Special Teams - Bills.
Both Tyler Bass and Jason Sanders are solid kickers, but Sanders is coming off his worst season as a kicker (23/31, 74%), while Bass is coming off his best (28/32, 87%). You’re only as good as your last kick, so I’m giving the edge to the guy with the hot hand (uh, foot?).
Which Matchups Will Decide The Game?
1) Miami’s WRs vs. Buffalo’s Secondary
With Buffalo set to miss most of their starting secondary on Sunday, the Dolphins should have a clear advantage through the air. The combination of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle usually warrants extra attention against even the league’s best secondaries, let alone against 2nd and 3rd-string defensive backs.
So, whether the Bills decide play double-coverage, Cover-3, or Cover-4, most of the focus will be on Hill and Waddle. As a result, Dolphins should be left with plenty of space left underneath. If Miami makes the most of this space, Buffalo won’t be able to keep up, and the Dolphins should come away with a win.
2) Josh Allen vs. Miami’s Spy
The Dolphins have lost their last 7 games against the Bills, mostly due to the offensive exploits of Josh Allen. A unique blend of size, speed, and arm talent, it’s no surprise he’s been Miami’s nemesis since he entered the league.
To stop Allen, the Dolphins may keep a “spy” on him, a player whose role would solely involve following the Bills’ quarterback around the field. It’s not something the Dolphins have tried before against Allen, largely due to a lack of personnel. You’d need an athletic linebacker, one with exceptional sideline-to-sideline speed and agility.
While veterans Jerome Baker and Elandon Roberts aren’t capable of keeping up with Allen, rookie linebacker Channing Tindall might. At 6’2, 230 pounds, he ran a blazing 4.47 at the 2022 NFL Combine, and would be more than capable of bringing down Josh Allen. If the Dolphins want to nullify the threat of Allen on Sunday, this may be the best way to do it.
Unfortunately, I think the threat of Josh Allen may just be too big to overcome for the Dolphins. They should keep it close, but I don’t see the Dolphins pulling off the upset in Miami.
What are your predictions for Sunday’s game vs. the Bills? Will the Dolphins finally get one over Josh Allen, or will the Bills blow out Miami’s candle again? Leave your predictions in the comments below!