Consensus line: Bills -2.5 (-115), total 45
Current betting percentage: 68% on the Bills, 51% on the OVER

Individual Team Trends:

  • Dolphins are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games following a S.U. loss.
  • Dolphins are 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 road games.
  • Dolphins are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a double-digit loss at home.
  • Bills are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games.
  • Bills are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
  • Under is 25-9 in Dolphins last 34 road games.
  • Under is 5-0 in Dolphins last 5 games overall.
  • Over is 5-0 in Bills last 5 home games.
  • Under is 10-4-1 in Bills last 15 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.

Head-to-Head Trends:

  • Dolphins are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 meetings.
  • Favorite is 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 meetings.

After the special treats that the NFL had in store on the past two Thursday nights, I gotta say, I’m kind of looking forward to this one…kind of. The AFC East is still very much still up for grabs if Tom Brady gets hit by a snowplow in Massachusetts this winter, so this tilt could possibly have some meaning. Both teams enter tonight’s game riding losing streaks with Miami dropping back-to-back games, and Buffalo having lost three straight and five of their last six.

Unfortunately due to time constraints, this write-up wont be like my usual Thursday night write-ups. Normally, I break down the entire game and try to pinpoint some edges that one team may have over the other, but this week, I’ll get straight to the point. I like Miami to bounce back.

These teams met twice last season, with Miami prevailing in both contests. The Fish outscored the Bills 65-31 in those games, scoring at least 30 points in each meeting. Reggie Bush ran for 203 yards in Buffalo, including a 76-yard touchdown run that put the game on ice. Not a lot has changed since those meetings last season. Miami still boasts a really strong defense and Buffalo still can’t stop the run. Sure, the Bills have improved their run defense slightly since their bye week, but they’ve still surrendered 235 yards on the ground in their last two games. Even with that improvement, they’re still awful.

I particularly like this matchup for the Dolphins because Reggie Bush was benched in their loss last week after fumbling the ball early in the first quarter. Bush will be on fresh legs against a Buffalo defense that was worn down against New England just four days ago. The Bills don’t have the personnel to slow him down, as they especially lack speed in their defensive front seven, so I’m fully expecting a big night for Bush on the ground and in the short passing game. The presence of a running game will really make things easier for rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Tannehill threw three picks against the Titans, but thus far in his young career he’s followed up each of his multi-interception performances with an interception-free game, and the Dolphins are 4-1 when Tannehill doesn’t throw an interception. The former Texas A&M product should have plenty of time in the pocket to find his receivers down the field because Buffalo lacks a consistent pass rush. The Bills have registered just 20 sacks in nine games this season, and with defensive ends Mark Anderson and Chris Kelsay out with injuries this week, Buffalo doesn’t have a pass rushing threat opposite of Mario Williams.

On the other side of things, Miami’s defense has been one of the more underrated stop units over the last couple of years. They allowed an average of just 14.8 points in the four games that preceded their date with the Titans, and I’ll throw that game against Tennessee right out of the window because of how poorly teams have fared as favorites prior to Thursday night games this season. The Dolphins are very aggressive defensively, and they forced Ryan Fitzpatrick into throwing five interceptions in their two meetings with the Bills last season. Fitzpatrick has turned the ball over 14 times in his nine starts this season, so don’t be surprised to see more of the same tonight.

Buffalo will rely heavily on C.J. Spiller (you would assume–you never know for sure with Chan Gailey) to help take a lot of the pressure off of Fitzpatrick. I’m a huge fan of Spiller, and he’s been as good as any back in the league this season. But I’m not completely comfortable having him take on a full workload just yet. Spiller has proven to be completely capable in a complementary role, but he’s had only two games in this three-year career where he’s received more than 15 carries. He’s not a running back that’s going to impose his will on opposing defenses, and I don’t think this is a particularly good matchup for him either.

Miami has a very good defensive line, anchored by 310-pounder Randy Starks. Starks is an immoveable object at defensive tackle, which allows for his quick defensive ends and linebackers to make a lot of plays in the running game. Spiller is extremely tough to bring down when he gets past the first line of defense, but the Dolphins’ front seven has a lot of team speed. I don’t see Spiller breaking off too many big gains here.

With Spiller under wraps, Fitzpatrick will be facing a lot of unfavorable third-and-long situations, and we all know how that’s going to end. Miami defensive end Cameron Wake may just be the best pure pass-rusher in the NFL today, and he should be able to tee off on Fitzpatrick if Buffalo can’t get their running game going.

I really think we’re seeing a big overreaction to last week. Miami got dominated by a Tennessee team that was considered one of the worst in the league by almost every member of the public. The truth is, the Titans are a much better team with Jake Locker at quarterback, and the Dolphins may have been caught looking ahead to this big divisional battle. Meanwhile, the Bills gave the Patriots all they could handle and were in a position to win the game late in the fourth quarter if it weren’t for an untimely interception. I know that Buffalo will be returning home for a primetime game here, but they could easily be flat coming off of that emotional loss last week.

One of my favorite things to do in the NFL is bet on teams after a blowout loss. Another one of my favorite things to do is bet against teams after a close, hard-fought loss. Everything is aligning here. Add in the fact that the Dolphins have been the best road underdog bet in football over the past couple of seasons, and I think there’s reason to make a sizable play on Miami tonight.

Prediction: Dolphins 23, Bills 13

Recommendation: I’m taking the Dolphins +3 -115 at BoDog. This is one of those games where it’s really important to do some line shopping no matter what side you’re taking. Don’t settle for Miami +2.5 when there are threes on the board. If this game was being played on Sunday it probably would be my top play, but the short week scares me a little bit because it usually favors the home team. Regardless, the last time Buffalo was favored at home, they lost 35-34 to Old Man Hasselbeck, so that cures all of my fears.

Comments (5)

  1. Maybe a change in TV announcers will improve the Bills’ chances of winning?
    The CBS crew of Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts were in the booth the last two Sundays as we lost to New England and Houston BUT tonight it’s Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock:)

    • I personally don’t think it’s the TV announcers that are the problem. Just a hunch though.

  2. Great analysis Rob, not considering last weeks game Miami has been the better team. You’ve been on the right side of many games lets hope tonight it turns into cash

  3. Nice article Sean,

    …but putting Rob’s name behind it takes away the polish. Interesting stats though.
    Unforgivably there’s more to picking winners than trends and what has happened in the past.

    The stat that you overlooked was… tonight is the first Nationally (US) televised game in 4 years for the Bills.
    And their at home… lol

    Bills win and Rob’s Thursday Night record continues to be the shameful red headed step child of prognosticators.

    #Heat in the kitchen

    • Ummm, I didn’t write this. I’m normally more than willing to take credit for someone else’s work, but this clearly says “Rob Pizzola” in the byline.

      Also, the fact that this was the Bills’ first nationally televised game had no impact whatsoever on the outcome. Although they still wouldn’t have covered, the fact that the Dolphins didn’t run an offensive play inside Bills territory until the four-minute mark of the third quarter but they still only lost by five and were in position to win at one point is downright embarrassing.

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