Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins Preview: Prediction, Best Bets, Odds, Depth Charts (1/7/24)

The AFC East is up for grabs when the Miami Dolphins (11-5) play host to the Buffalo Bills (10-6) on Sunday night (1/7/24) in the final game of the 2023-24 NFL regular season. Betting odds have the Bills as road favorites at -3 against the spread, while the over/under is set at 49.5 total points.

This article provides Bills vs. Dolphins analysis, predictions and betting recommendations and explains why the best bet in this matchup is the under.

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins Prediction & Best Bet

The Dolphins’ promising season is on the precipice of collapse. Just a little over a week ago, the Dolphins had a chance to earn the AFC’s No. 1 seed, but they needed to beat the Ravens and the Bills in their last two games to do it.

Those hopes were dashed last week when the Ravens thrashed them 56-19. The Dolphins also added injuries to that insulting score, losing their second star edge rusher to a season-ending injury. Having already lost Jaelan Phillips, they are now without Bradley Chubb as well.

As we detail further below, the Dolphins have a long list of injury concerns entering this game, while the Bills’ roster is virtually flawless health-wise (excluding players already on IR). That is a big reason why the Bills are 3-point favorites despite being on the road against the team currently in first place in the division.

If the Bills win this game, they will be the AFC’s No. 2 seed. On the other hand, if the Jaguars and Steelers win their games earlier in the day, there is also a chance that Buffalo could miss the playoffs entirely if they lose. The Dolphins could fall to the No. 6 seed if they lose.

The NFL certainly saved its best for last when it scheduled this game for Sunday Night Football.

Considering Miami’s health situation and the fact that they got blown out 48-20 against the Bills in Week 4, it’s hard to have much confidence in them this week. The Bills are one of the hottest teams in the league, having won four games in a row including impressive wins over the Chiefs and Cowboys.

At the same time, it would be surprising if most of the players on Miami’s injury report don’t suit up, especially given what’s at stake. Miami has been excellent at home this season – 7-1 straight up and 6-2 ATS – while the Bills are just 3-4 on the road and 2-4-1 ATS. While we lean toward the Bills here, we would rather look elsewhere for our best bet than having to give 3 points on the road.

Instead, we like the under as the best bet in this game, though we liked it a lot more earlier in the week at 50 instead of the current line of 48.5. (We were able to get it at 49 at Caesars at the time of this writing).

The Dolphins’ defense has improved significantly over the second half of the season. They were 20th in defensive EPA through the first 10 weeks of the season, and they are 9th since then. The same can be said of the Bills, who were 17th in defensive EPA through 10 weeks and are third since Week 11.

We don’t expect the Bills to put up anywhere close to the 48 points they scored on the Dolphins’ defense last time, even if Miami did just lose Chubb and could be missing Xavien Howard and other starters on defense. Miami also could struggle offensively if they are missing some of their key weapons and potentially some offensive linemen.

That all leads to the under looking like a very solid bet in this game, and a bet we like much more than picking against the spread.

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins Prediction & Best Bet: Bills win 26-21 | Best Bet: under 48.5

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins Betting Odds

The spread in this game is sitting right at the key number of 3 with the Bills as road favorites. That line opened at Bills -2.5 before making the important move to -3. For context, the Bills were also -3 favorites at home back in Week 4 when they won 48-20.

The over/under in that game was 52, and this time around it opened at 50 and has dipped to 48.5 at most sportsbooks.

The implied outcome of these odds is the Bills winning 26-23.

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins Key Injuries

The Dolphins are dealing with a litany of injury concerns with multiple high-end starters at risk of missing this critical game. On defense, that includes CB Xavien Howard, DT Zach Sieler, S Jevon Holland, LB David Long Jr. and LB Duke Riley. That’s not to mention edge rusher Bradley Chubb, who just suffered a season-ending ACL injury.

On offense, Miami could be missing as many as four offensive linemen (LT Terron Armstead, LG Lester Cotton, C Liam Eichenberg and RT Austin Jackson). They also could be getting back RG Robert Hunt, who has missed the last four games but returned to practice this week. They also could be missing their top two RBs Raheem Mostert and DeVon Achane and their top two WRs Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

While most of those players will likely end up being active for this game, it’s possible several of them could be out, which would be a significant loss for Miami.

The Bills are in much better shape injury-wise with every starter (except those already on IR) expected to be available this week.

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins Key Matchups

Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Bills vs. Dolphins below.

James Cook vs. Miami Dolphins’ run defense

We mentioned above that the Dolphins’ defense has been much better over the second half of the season, and the biggest reason for that has been their run defense. Since Week 11, they are third in the league in defensive EPA against the run and second in success rate.

One of the biggest differences in the Bills’ offense since they replaced offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey with Joe Brady has been their running game. James Cook was averaging 61.5 rushing yards per game on 5.1 yards per carry in 10 games under Dorsey. Since then he is averaging 78.5 yards on a slightly less efficient 4.5 yards per carry, but his volume has gone way up.

Cook has at least 16 carries in all but one game since Brady took over, and only had one game with at least 16 carries before that. Overall he is averaging 17.33 carries per game over the last six games after averaging just 12 per game over the first 10.

If the Dolphins can slow down Cook, it will be that much easier to slow down the rest of the Bills’ offense.

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Buffalo Bills’ pass defense

This is a matchup of strength against strength. The Bills’ defense is 2nd in EPA and 9th in success rate against the pass since Week 11, while the Dolphins’ passing offense is second in DVOA, third in EPA and third in success rate on the season.

The Dolphins’ bigger advantage is in the run game, but if they struggle to move the ball through the air, then it won’t matter much. With both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle banged up, as well as some injuries up front to the offensive line, there are real concerns about Miami’s passing offense not looking like itself this week.

If that ends up being the case, it’s going to be bad news for Dolphins fans.

Buffalo Bills Depth Chart

QB: Josh Allen
RB1: James Cook
RB2: Damien Harris
LWR: Stefon Diggs
RWR: Gabe Davis
SWR: Khalil Shakir
TE1: Dalton Kincaid

Miami Dolphins Depth Chart

QB: Tua Tagovailoa
RB1: Raheem Mostert
RB2: Devon Achane
LWR: Tyreek Hill
RWR: Jaylen Waddle
SWR: Braxton Berrios
TE1: Durham Smythe

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Noah hails from Philadelphia and is a diehard Philly sports fan. He graduated from Penn where he was a sports writer and editor for the student newspaper and also spent a summer covering the Baltimore Orioles for MLB.com. He has been playing fantasy sports since before live stats were a thing, and he has enjoyed learning the nuances of DFS in recent years. As a current resident of Florida, he is hoping the wave of sports betting legalization will eventually reach his home state.

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