Buffalo Bills (0-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-0)
It was tough to know what to make of the Bills/Steelers game, but my takeaway was more than the Bills were worse than expected more than the Steelers were better than expected. Everything went perfectly for the Bills’ offense last season and even an elite defense like the Steelers would not have been a huge challenge for them, but that was not the case in the opener and that could continue for most of the season. That’s not to say they won’t have a good offense, but it’s hard to see them seriously challenging in the AFC if they don’t get consistently high level play from their offensive unit.
If they can bounce back from week one and perform even close to last year’s level of play, they should be able to win relatively easily in Miami, against a Dolphins team that remains a little overrated, winning week one in New England in a game they easily could have lost if not for fumbles, which are the least predictive metric in the league week-to-week. When looking at more predictive metrics, the Dolphins fared worse in both first down rate (33.33% vs. 30.77%) and yards per play (5.61 vs. 4.98).
The Dolphins won 10 games a year ago, but they faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%) and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL). They added Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller to improve their receiving corps this off-season, but they will likely get worse quarterback play from a full season of Tua Tagovailoa than last year when Ryan Fitzpatrick played well when given the opportunity to play and Tagovailoa did not fare well as a passer week one without Will Fuller, who now looks out indefinitely. It’s hard to be confident in the Bills at all, but I could see them bouncing back in a big way this week and don’t mind giving the 3.5 for pick ‘em purposes.
Buffalo Bills 24 Miami Dolphins 20
Pick against the spread: Buffalo -3.5