Week 11 kicks off Thursday evening with an intriguing AFC East divisional clash between long-time rivals as the surprising Miami Dolphins head north to take on the disappointing Buffalo Bills. It truly has been a tale of two seasons for these division foes. Nothing was expected out of a Miami team with a very raw quarterback at the helm in Ryan Tannehill, while the Bills were viewed as a legitimate playoff contender. After nine games apiece, it’s the Dolphins who sit at 4-5, while the Bills linger at 3-6. This is a huge clash for both squads, and we’ll see who lives up to the challenge on Thursday evening.
The Dolphins enter Orchard Park a reeling bunch after a sound beating at home last week from the lowly Tennessee Titans. Just when it seemed like the Dolphins were ready to break-out and compete for an AFC wild-card position, they’ve come back to reality recently in losing their past two contests. Any chance this Miami team has at making the playoffs begins Thursday night in Buffalo. This is simply a must-win game for them if they want a ticket to the dance, and it will be interesting to see how this young ground responds to such a large challenge.
The Bills meanwhile are coming off an impressive outing in a loss last week to the New England Patriots. But still, this group has vastly underachieved in 2012 and their free-agent splurges simply have not lived up to the hype. They possess one of the worst defenses in the league, and as a result have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL this season. Like Miami, this is an eually important game for the desperate Bills. If they lose at home in a standalone contest, things will get ugly in upstate New York as the Bills will likely have to kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. On the injury front, the Bills will be without key tailback Fred Jackson who will be sidelined with a concussion. On the defensive side, Mark Anderson and Chris Kelsay will both be out, and as will cornerback Aaron Williams.
Dolphins vs. Bills Betting Odds:
Miami Dolphins +2.5 (-110)
@ Buffalo Bills -2.5 (-110)
Over 46 (-110)
Under 46 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Dolphins vs. Bills Pick:
Generally speaking, when two wildly inconsistent teams square off with one another, it likely creates quite the unpredictable game. Thus, picking a winner in this contest seems like an exercise in futility. Both these teams are desperate, but both these teams have certain traits that could be conducive to the Under 46 points coming through on Thursday night.
The Dolphins are by no means an offensive juggernaut. They keep things relatively simply on offense, often pounding the football with either Daniel Thomas or Reggie Bush. The Bills are currently conceding a staggering 5.5 yards per carry on the ground, so look for Miami to run the football at will on Thursday night. The Buffalo defensive line was supposed to carry this squad, while being one of the premier units in the NFL. That has yet to materialize. Though this remains a capable group, littered with key talent at many prominent positions, the Bills have yet to gel on defense. Though this could be the weak, the Miami gameplan will almost certainly be built around a heavy dose of the run game. With Miami running the ball, the game clock will keep moving and the pace of the game will slow down; two factors which both lean towards tonight’s Under.
Conversely, the Miami defense has been one of the biggest surprises of the NFL season this year. They’ve been stout in both the passing and running game, and despite the potent aerial attack of the Bills, the Dolphins should be able to limit the damage. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been prone to interceptions in pressure situations, so look for the Miami defense to keep some Bills’ points off the board come Thursday night.
Setting this game at a total of 46 points is simply too high for a game of this magnitude. Typically speaking, these Thursday night prime-time contests have stayed under the total in 2012, and expect a similar game between Miami and Buffalo. Buffalo has the potential for a solid defensive outing, despite their ineffectiveness of late, and the Dolphins group will be able to rebound after a horrid performance last week against Tennessee. A close, nail-biting affair seems in the cards, with the running game playing a big part en route to an Under.
PICK = Under 46 (-110)