The Buffalo Bills enter the Wild Card playoff round sporting a seven-game winning streak, including a 31-29 come-from-behind win over the Miami Dolphins in Orchard Park a few weeks ago. Those same Dolphins are the Bills’ next opponent on Sunday at 1:00. Buffalo locked up that home-field advantage with their 13-3 record and 4-2 mark inside the AFC East, where they have won four in a row. Before I give away all the little nuggets in this intro, let’s shift our focus to my five storylines to keep an eye on as we get closer to the playoffs kicking off from Orchard Park, again Sunday at 1:00.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the Bills’ injuries this season, and for good reason. Buffalo is most likely missing All-Pro safety Micah Hyde (his practice window was activated Wednesday) for this week, and All-Pro EDGE Von Miller is out for the rest of the season. However, heading into the AFC Wild Card round, it is the Dolphins who have all the questions when it comes to the injury report. We learned Wednesday morning that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will miss the game with a concussion. Miami’s dynamic duo of receivers Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill are dinged during this week of practice. They could also be without running back Raheem Mostert, who is nursing a thumb injury that recently required surgery. The list isn’t limited to skill players either, as they have some guys banged up on the line and defense as well. The Bills would trade all those Miami players to have Hyde and Miller back, but that list is, unfortunately, strong for Miami.
The Bills and Dolphins split their first two matchups heading into this third showdown. In baseball, when two teams split the first two games of a three-game series, we call it a “rubber match,” so I’m going to steal that here. Buffalo lost in Miami by two back in week three. The Bills topped the Phins by two just a couple of games ago. The two teams couldn’t be closer on the scoreboard, but a lot of other stats show a much deeper story. I will dive further into those waters later this week when I do my keys to victory piece.
We’ve Been Buffalo’d
All season I have begged for more from Ken Dorsey when it comes to utilizing all the pieces the Bills have on offense. I want more play-action, I want more pre-snap motion, and I want more tricks. We haven’t seen that, but when your team is 13-3 and has a win over the Chiefs already in your back pocket, it is hard to complain. Well, if he has been holding anything back, now is the time to start and deploy those parts of the playbook. The number one wrinkle I have been begging for is passing to Bobby Hart when he comes in as eligible. Buffalo hasn’t done that yet, it has always been a smash or play-action. I want, maybe need, to see Hart leak out and score a touchdown.
To use some professional journalism jargon, the Bills’ offense was STUPID GOOD in last year’s playoffs. We all remember the perfect game against the Patriots, where Buffalo never punted and dominated New England 47-17. The Bills followed that up with Josh Allen accounting for nearly 400 yards in total offense and finding Gabe Davis for four touchdowns. Allen has Buffalo in the lead with just 13 seconds left, yes we know what happened next, but performances like that will have the Bills, at minimum, back in the conference championship.
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— Cover 1 (@Cover1) January 11, 2023
I don’t expect Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel to wear an “I wish it were colder” shirt to practice again this week. I also don’t believe the Bills will find themselves in the blazing sun all game either. The weather for Orchard Park on Sunday is currently (that means at the time of writing this) calling for low 30s and mostly cloudy. That sounds like perfect football weather for Western New York in mid-January. All of Buffalo and WNY will gladly take this compared to what we have been through the last couple of months.