Sunday’s playoff slate kicks off with a matchup of AFC East divisional foes, as the Miami Dolphins will head to upstate New York to take on the Buffalo Bills. The Bills came away with an emotional Week 18 victory at home over the New England Patriots on Sunday, defeating them by a final score of 35-23. Miami needed a victory to remain in the conversation for postseason contention, and got a win against the New York Jets last week by an 11-6 margin.
This will be the third time the Dolphins and Bills play each other this season. Miami took the first meeting way back in September 21-19, while the Bills won the rematch 32-29.
We’ll take a look at three factors to watch in this pivotal contest.
The Skylar’s The Limit
As they’ve had to do for much of the season, Miami will patch together their game plan for a new starting quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa is still in concussion protocol and has been ruled out, and it appears like Teddy Bridgewater is not going to be 100% for this game as he continues to deal with an injured finger.
The Dolphins have named Skylar Thompson as their starter under center against the Bills. Thompson faces a pretty daunting task on Sunday, as the seventh-round rookie last largely played conservatively in a scheme that tries to minimize his mistakes. This would seem to be strategy Miami will use again on Sunday, which could severely hamper the effectiveness of dynamic receiving options Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
The Mostert Important Running Back
The Dolphins weren’t expected to beat Buffalo when they made their first trip there in December, but kept it close thanks to the efforts of running back Raheem Mostert. He had a phenomenal day rushing the football, running for 136 yards on 17 carries. This allowed Miami to utilize an effective play action passing attack that the Bills had to respect due to Mostert’s productivity.
There’s a good chance Mostert will not be available against the Bills due to a broken thumb he suffered against the Jets. That would be a considerable loss for a Dolphins offense already compromised by injuries. Even if Mostert can suit up, look for reserve running back Jeff Wilson to be featured prominently.
Allen Will Carry The Load
As he does in most of the games he plays, Josh Allen feasts against the Dolphins. His performance in their last matchup was fantastic, as he threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Allen also added 77 yards on the ground on 10 carries. Whether it was through the air or on the ground, the Dolphins had no answers for the MVP candidate.
It figures to be a long day for Miami’s defense once again if they aren’t able to hit Allen dropping back. Heralded cornerback Xavien Howard appears to be a little less effective than he has been in previous years, and might be susceptible to giving up a big play in this game if Allen can stand in the pocket for a long time.