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Pollock Prediction as Buffalo Bills face a win or go home game with the Miami Dolphins


A column by Sun Senior Columnist Chuck Pollock

Going into Saturday afternoon, the Bills had three paths into making the playoffs.

At 10-6, Buffalo could make it as early as the weekend’s first game, if the Ravens could beat the Steelers in Baltimore.

But Pittsburgh was favored as the Ravens, already locked into the AFC’s No. 1 seed, opted to rest a number of starters.

And on a rainy, windy afternoon at M&T Stadium, the Steelers (10-7) gutted out a 17-10 decision to keep alive their playoff hopes while increasing the odds that Buffalo will be eliminated.

It comes down to about 11 hours this afternoon.

The Bills second path to backing in comes at 1 o’clock when the Jaguars (9-7) face the Titans (5-11) in Nashville. With a win, Jacksonville claims the AFC South title and leaves the Bills at serious risk.

Thus, Buffalo has one path to the postseason … beating the Dolphins (11-5) tonight at Hard Rock Stadium  (8:20 ABC-TV, ESPN-TV, ESPN2-TV,  95.7 FM, 100.1 FM, 550 AM) 

THE ONE thing that hasn’t changed,  if the Bills beat the Dolphins tonight they not only  lock up their fourth straight AFC East championship but also earn a home game against Houston (10-7), which edged the Colts 23-19 Saturday night in Indianapolis, next weekend. If Buffalo loses, its season is over.

The Bills are a three-point favorite at Miami Gardens, mostly because of some compelling statistics.

Buffalo coach Sean McDermott is 12-2 — including playoffs — against the Dolphins since he took the job in 2017 and, in those games, the Bills averaged 36 points, mostly on the strong right arm of quarterback Josh Allen.  In his 12 games against Miami, the sixth-year QB has gone 10-2 with 34 touchdowns passes — the most of any active player against a single opponent. He’s also thrown for at least two TDs in those games, the NFL’s longest-ever such streak versus one foe. And, oh yeah, Allen has also run for five scores in that stretch.

But that’s not the only reason Buffalo is favored to win a fifth straight game.

THE DOLPHINS, 11-5, have had a great season but are coming off a 56-19 evisceration last Sunday in Baltimore and, even worse, Miami conjured an unfathomable loss to the Titans, blowing a two-touchdown lead with under three minutes to play, their lone home defeat.

Win that game and tonight’s is meaningless to the Dolphins, who would already have clinched the division.

Another reason Miami is a home underdog is a spate of injuries. Out are the team’s best pass rusher, Bradley Chubb (knee), and XavienHoward (foot), one of its two best corners. Questionable are No. 2 wide receiver Jalen Waddle (ankle) and running back Raheem Mostert (knee/ankle), the NFL leader in non-throwing total touchdowns (21) and rushing scores (18). Allen leads the league with 42 combined TDs, 27 passing, 15 rushing.

Still, Miami is a team which leads the league in scoring, 30 points per game, and averages 35 at home, where they surrender a mere 17.

THE BILLS’ current roster, aside from those already on injured reserve, is remarkably healthy but there are issues.

Allen has a nagging multi-week issue with the index finger on his throwing hand. It’s more a nuisance and has pretty much kept him off the injury report, though he also suffered a stinger to his left shoulder on his final play running out the clock against New England.

But it’s worth noting, in the unimpressive victories over the Chargers and Patriots, his combined passing numbers were  30-of-51 with one touchdown, two interceptions (16 on the year) and a substandard passer rating of 72. In fairness, he rushed for two touchdowns in each of those wins, but just didn’t seem himself.

Then there’s enigmatic No. 1 wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, who has seemingly disappeared. In the first six games, he caught 49 balls with five 100-yard efforts and five touchdowns. The past 10, he has 51 receptions, three touchdowns and no 100-yard games. In fact, in six of those, he had 48 receiving yards, or fewer, and as many as five catches only once.

Two of Buffalo’s other main offensive weapons have been consistent in their inconsistency. Gabe Davis, the No. 2 receiver, in the last eight games has had 14 catches, none in four of them,  and two touchdowns. Running back James Cook, the NFL’s third-leading rusher, in the last five games, other than the spectacular 179-yard rushing effort and 221 yards total offense performance against Dallas that produced a ground and receiving score, is averaging 55 ground yards with no touchdowns though he has a pair of receiving TDs.

In short, the Bills have their own issues, though not of the injury variety.

But the weather will be perfect — temperatures in the mid-60s– and the tension will be extremely high.

Dolphins 35, Bills 30

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at )

Read more from Chuck:

• Pollock’s playoff picture

 It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win for the Bills

• The Bills need a win, not a blowout

• McDermott deserves praise after win vs. the Dallas Cowboys

• On this day, the Bills manhandled the Cowboys

• The Bills win at KC turned the heat down on McDermott and Miller

• At last, another teams gaffe helps the Bills win

• The Bills must beat the Chiefs and distractions

• Who is this Ty Dunne?

• Why Chuck Pollock returned to writing and covering the Bills after a two-week “retirement”

• Flags? Taking a knee before the half? Buffalo Bills’ apologists are whining in the wrong place

• Was Dorsey the latest sacrificial lamb?

• POLLOCK PREDICTION: McDermott will fire Dorsey next

(You can support the work of our journalists and keep this site free with a PayPal donation HERE)

• Awkward press conference for the Bills and McDermott

• If season ended today, the Bills are out of the playoffs

• Are the Bills a playoff team?

• Bills produce a third straight stinker

• An ugly win for the Buffalo Bills

• The AFC is wide open with Buffalo injuries

• Injuries were worse than a loss in London

• Bills prepare for Jacksonville

• The passing of Russ Francis and what it was like covering the Bills in the 1970’s

• News and notes from a costly win by the Bills over Miami

• A look a high school, college and NFL blowouts

• Did the Bills find a middle linebacker in win vs. Washington?

• Pollock Predicts: Take the Bills over Washington

• Why Week 2 has the makings of a must-win

• The new look AFC East after one week

• Pollock on the Week 1 loss

• Bills season prediction

• A pre-season final win erases memories of the Steelers loss

• Where were the tight ends in the preseason win?

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