By Abraham Gutierrez
For the second time in as many weeks, the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills will meet between the lines. However, this time, the Fins will have a golden opportunity to spoil the playoff hopes of their longtime rivals in Week 17.
Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida will serve as the backdrop for the season finale for these AFC East squads. Opening kickoff is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 4:25 p.m. ET.
Bills’ Record: 8-7
At 8-7-0, Buffalo is still in the mix for a playoff spot in the AFC, but will need some serious help in order to punch their ticket into the tourney. The Bills would earn a Wild Card berth by: beating the Dolphins coupled with a Ravens loss; or with a win against the Fins, a Chargers loss or tie and a Titans loss or tie.
Bills on Offense
Offensively, the Bills are about as one-dimensional as it gets in the National Football League. In fact, Buffalo ranks among the very worst teams offensively in all but one of the four main statistical categories. They are 24th in the NFL in points per game (18.7), 29th in total yards (302.0) and dead last in passing yards per contest (175.9).
Nevertheless, this team has the ability to control the time of possession and tire out opposing defenses by doing something former head coach Rex Ryan liked to refer to as “ground-and-pound.” Averaging 126.1 rushing yards per game, the Bills feature the sixth-best running attack in pro football.
Bills on Defense
On the opposite side of the rock, this team is not very good, ranking below average in all four categories. The Bills defense is 18th in both points per game (22.9) and passing yards per game (228.3) allowed. They’re also ranked 25th in totals yards (355.1) and a whopping 30th in rushing yards allowed per game (126.7).
The last time Miami and Buffalo faced off, though, it was the Bills defense that rose to the occasion. Coming away with a 24-16 victory, they pressured the Dolphins into mistakes and also created some of their own in the process. Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler had a game to forget, as he threw three interceptions and not a single touchdown pass. Buffalo’s “D” also forced a total of four fumbles that afternoon in Orchard Park.
Bills Players To Watch: Tyrod Taylor, Tre’Davious White
A couple of weeks ago, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a complete game and will look to have a duplicate performance. The seventh-year man out of Virginia Tech completed 17-of-29 pass attempts for 224 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions to earn a 94.6 passer rating. He also ran for 42 yards on 16 carries and a score on the win.
On defense, Miami must account for cornerback Tre’Davious White at all times. Last time they met, the rookie from LSU had his fingerprints all over the Bills’ win. Buffalo’s 27th overall pick in the draft finished the day with an interception, seven tackles and three passes defended. He’s also tied for second best on the team with 4 picks to go along with 62 tackles and a forced fumble.
According to NFL Week 17 oddsmakers, the visiting team will be the ones to beat by a field goal. The latest NFL point spreads have the Buffalo Bills (-3) listed as three-point favorites against the Miami Dolphins (+3). The OVER/UNDER is set at a combined total of 43 points, and straight-up money lines go as follows: Buffalo Bills (-150) vs. Miami Dolphins (+130).