The post-season is the place to be for franchises who believe they are among the NFL’s top tier. It provides a stage for the best teams to prove if they are worthy of becoming the league’ champion. Achieving this accomplishment requires resilience and determination. The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins exude these characteristics. They will duel for the AFC East crown on Sunday afternoon. The winner will control their fate in the hunt for the Vince Lombardi trophy.
A chance to clinch a divisional title motivates Sean McDermott’s unit. They’ve worked hard to find their rhythm after experiencing hiccups earlier in the season. Losses to the New York Jets, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots were difficult to watch. Josh Allen received scrutiny for his uncharacteristic performances. Constructive criticism awakened the beast that is the starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills. He helped Buffalo string together four consecutive wins - including a convincing win against the Dallas Cowboys. Allen ranks third in pass grading (86.5) and ties seventh in passing touchdowns (27). We expect him to continue his streak of dominance to secure a better route to the playoffs.
Quarterback contributions are helping the Miami Dolphins stay above water as well. Tua Tagovailoa (88.7) is having his best year as a professional. It’s a testament to his perseverance and determination. He’s accurate with his passes (69%) and ties third with Josh Allen in big-time throws (33). Assistance from Tyreek Hill (93.8) and a talented running back duo helps Mike McDaniel’s offense outscore opponents. They are a part of the second-best offense in the league (94.7) - a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Who has the better chance of winning Sunday Night?
The last primetime game of the regular season will dictate the winner of the AFC East. We expect both teams to fight until the death for better seeding in the post-season, but which franchise has the upper hand?
A slew of injuries will affect how Vic Fangio approaches his defensive strategy this weekend. Mike McDaniel confirmed that Xavien Howard will not play in Week 18, and Bradley Chubb experienced a season-ending ACL injury against the Baltimore Ravens. Jerome Baker returned to practice on Wednesday after being placed on injured reserve in December. He could return to the 53-man roster if the Dolphins use their last activation of the season.
Holes in Miami’s defense will give Josh Allen an advantage in a pivotal matchup. The former first-round pick is among the league’s elite gunslingers and will find ways to impact the game. This season, Allen ranks first in offensive grading (90.8) and third in touchdown passes (27). Protecting has been an issue for Buffalo’s quarterback this season. He is second in interceptions thrown (16) and must protect the football to secure a win. Vic Fangio’s defense ranks third in grading (88.4) and eleventh in coverage (82.2)
A showdown between the best franchises in the AFC East will impact the conference’s seeding. If the Buffalo Bills lose, they could still clinch the playoffs - just as a wild-card contender. The Miami Dolphins will experience the same result because of their Week 17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. We expect both teams to compete at a high level. Playoff implications are on the line, and both teams control their fate.
All statistics courtesy of pff.com