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Banged-up Buffalo Bills take on the red-hot Miami Dolphins: preview, picks, more for Week 3

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Buffalo Bills celebrate a victory
Buffalo Bills’ Stefon Diggs, second from left, celebrates with quarterback Josh Allen, second from right, after they connected for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Two teams that look like they could be amongst the best in the AFC will face off when the Buffalo Bills travel to Miami on Sunday to take on the Dolphins.

Buffalo Bills (2-0) @ Miami Dolphins (2-0)

Game Details:

  • Location: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL
  • Time: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
  • Channel: CBS

Betting Stats:

After dominating the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans, Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs and company will now have to go toe-to-toe with a strong Miami offense. We dug into this game earlier in the week with our three keys, so now we’ll dive into the basic matchup breakdown. 

Top Matchups/Storylines:

Can the Bills contain the Dolphins with two rookies starting at cornerback?

This is obviously the story of the game. With Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White already on the IR, the Bills also ruled out starting cornerback Dane Jackson, starting safety Micah Hyde, and starting defensive tackle Jordan Phillips for Sunday’s game in Miami. Those are MASSIVE losses for this defense as they prepare to face the team that leads the NFL in passing yards through two games. 

On top of that, Jordan Poyer was injured in practice during the week but was out there on Friday, so it seems like he’ll play, and the Bills will welcome back defensive tackled Ed Oliver and Tim Settle, who also practiced on Friday. 

Buffalo will need all the pass rush help it can get since the starting cornerbacks will be two rookies: Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford. You can be sure that Miami will be attacking those two early and often on the boundaries. 

The loss of Hyde will be impactful but less disastrous since the Bills have Jaquon Johnson as a backup. The 4th-year-pro has been tremendous whenever he’s been given the chance to play and might be the team’s long-term replacement for pending free agent Jordan Poyer. Johnson should fill in admirably for Hyde on Sunday, but defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will need to come up with a scheme that protects his rookie cornerbacks. 

He’s been successful at doing that so far since the Bills’ secondary has been putting up absurd numbers in his five-plus years as defensive coordinator. 

That’s a pretty crazy stat. However, the secondary injuries could pose a big challenge to this passing touchdowns stat, even though Pro Football Focus claims the Bills are “easily the deepest secondary in the league right now.”

 

Can Tua Tagovailoa match Josh Allen?

It seems crazy to ask if anybody can match Josh Allen, but Tua is the NFL leader in passing with 739 yards through two games. He’s also thrown for seven touchdowns and two interceptions, so there is no arguing with the results.

However, Tua also has 7.3 intended air yards per pass, which is in line with his career norms. That tells us he may not be playing more aggressively or taking more shots downfield but is now benefitting from throwing to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Regardless, the offense has produced and likely will continue to. 

Meanwhile, Josh Allen remains the MVP frontrunner with 614 yards through the air and seven touchdowns to two interceptions despite also being removed from the Titans game in the third quarter due to the lopsided score. He’s also rushed for 66 yards and a score in two games. 

We also covered how Allen has dominated the Dolphins in his eight career starts. He has a passer rating of 106.8 with 1,980 yards, 21 touchdowns, and five interceptions in eight games versus the Dolphins in his career. He’s also rushed for 53.8 rushing yards per game against Miami at nine yards per carry with four touchdowns. 

So it might be hard for Tua to keep up if Allen plays to his historic level against the Dolphins. 

 

Can either running game deliver? Will it need to?

For all the highs of the passing attack, both of these teams have been pretty poor on the ground to start the year. Their leading rushers – Devin Singletary for Buffalo and Raheem Mostert for Miami – have had almost identical starts to the year. Singletary has gained just 67 yards on 14 carries while Mostert has 67 yards on 16 carries. Both also split time with other backs in a rotation. 

As a team, the Dolphins are 5th-worst in the NFL with just 151 rushing yards on the season, while Buffalo, thanks in part to garbage time against the Titans, ranks 14th-best with 222 rushing yards. Needless to say, neither attack has been overly effective and if both defenses key in on stopping the passing attack, the team that can have more success on the ground may find an opportunity for big plays. 

 

With Gabe Davis likely back is Miami in big trouble?

While Miami’s offense has been earning a lot of praise through two games, their defense has not been nearly as impressive. 

They’ve allowed the 12th-most yards overall but the most yards per play in the entire NFL. The 8.4 net yards gained against them per pass attempt is worst in the league by almost a full yard, and they played a game against Mac Jones and a relatively anemic Patriots passing offense. 

The Dolphins are clearly missing Byron Jones, who is on the IR, but undrafted rookie Kader Kohou is the highest-graded cornerback in the NFL through two weeks. However, a showdown against Gabe Davis and a rejuvenated Stefon Diggs will quickly test how real that is. 

Diggs has come into the 2022 season on a mission, racking up 270 yards on 20 receptions through two games while leading the NFL with four receiving touchdowns. He is playing with aggression and embarrassed the Titans’ cornerbacks and Jalen Ramsey in his first two games. He’ll now get a test with Xavien Howard, which will likely leave Kohou with Gabe Davis. 

 

Picks:

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Jaylen Waddle and the Dolphins will face the Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) and running back Raheem Mostert (31) do a dance after Waddle scored a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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