Miami Dolphins (8-5) at Buffalo Bills (10-3)
The Dolphins are only a couple games behind the Bills in the standings, but they have a +4 point differential and have won five of their six one-score games, while the Bills have a +132 point differential and have won three of their six one-score games. The gap between these two teams is closer than that suggests though, as the Dolphins lost all three games this season in which Tua Tagovailoa did not start and/or finish the game, including two by multiple scores.
In fact, the Dolphins’ only multi-score loss of the year with Tua Tagovailoa under center was on the road in San Francisco, against one of the most talented teams in the league. That’s relevant considering this line favors the Bills by a touchdown, which gives us some line value with the Dolphins. It’s not a significant amount though, as the Bills as the type of team that could beat the Dolphins by multiple scores like the 49ers did, especially at home in Buffalo.
The Bills haven’t been quite as dominant this season as they were last season, when all of their wins came by at least 12 points, leading to a +194 point differential that led the league, but they have played better in close games (0-5 in one-score games a year ago, leading to them having “just” a 11-6 record, despite leading the league in point differential) and their point differential this season is still the second best in the league, only six points behind the Eagles, who have benefited significantly from a league leading turnover margin of +14, which is not predictive week-to-week (Buffalo is only at +2).
In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is more predictive, the Bills lead the league, ranking 9.5 points above average. Injuries have also been the biggest reason why the Bills haven’t been quite as dominant as a year ago and they have gotten healthier in recent weeks. A lot of attention has been paid to the absence of Von Miller and that is certainly a big loss, but the rest of this team is significantly healthier than earlier this season and Miller was not part of their team a year ago, when they led the league in point differential.
Talented safety Jordan Poyer (four games missed), starting offensive linemen Mitch Morse (two games) and Dion Dawkins (one game), stud linebackers Tremaine Edmunds (three games) and Matt Milano (one game), and talented edge defender Greg Rousseau (three games), top cornerback Tre’Davious White (ten games) are all set to play for Buffalo this week, after missing significant time with injury early in the season. I’m still taking the Dolphins for pick ‘em purposes, but my calculated line of Buffalo -6.5 doesn’t give us much line value with the Dolphins and, considering the Bills already have seven wins by more than seven points this season, it’s hard to be confident in the Dolphins at all this week, so this is one of my lowest confidence picks.
Update: After some slight tweaks to my numbers, I like the Bills in this game, but still for a no confidence pick.
Buffalo Bills 28 Miami Dolphins 20
Pick against the spread: Buffalo -7