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Dolphins vs Bills: Week 2 NFL preview

The Miami Dolphins are alone atop the AFC East for now, but will face the reigning division champion Buffalo Bills at home in Sunday’s Week 2 battle.

Get the full lowdown on this showdown, with key matchups, viewing information, a final score prediction and much more, as Dolphins vs Bills figures to be one of the best games on the NFL slate this weekend.

Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills: What you need to know

Find out where the Dolphins and Bills stand in our NFL Week 2 power rankings

Tua Tagovailoa vs Josh Allen

Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills: What you need to know
Jan 3, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) drops back to pass against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Even though he threw a costly interception against New England last week, Dolphins second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa actually acquitted himself quite well, given the history Patriots coach Bill Belichick has of feasting on young signal-callers. Tagovailoa played within his skill set, made several accurate, high-level throws and led Miami to a huge win.

But while Tagovailoa was facing a rookie counterpart in Mac Jones last Sunday, he’s now going up against a legitimate MVP candidate in the Bills’ Josh Allen. This head-to-head face-off could be a sign of what’s to come — namely, if Tagovailoa has the talent to hang with a mind-boggling anomaly like Allen for the next decade in the division.

  • Tagovailoa Tested Early: Last year’s timeshare situation with Ryan Fitzpatrick is long gone. Tagovailoa is getting thrown right into the fire against difficult division foes. He held up nicely against New England. Can he do it again?
  • Awry Allen Returns: Facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener, Allen’s scattershot accuracy that plagued his first two NFL seasons returned. He completed just 58.8% of his passes, with only one drop on 51 attempts. We’ll chalk it up to a tough matchup, but if Allen is off-target that often against Miami, it could lead to multiple interceptions.

Advantage: Buffalo Bills

Brian Flores vs Sean McDermott

Dolphins vs Bills: Week 2 NFL preview
Aug 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott throws the challenge flag after a play against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. The Buffalo Bills won 41-15. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

It’s really splitting hairs to pick between these two head coaches. Brian Flores has completely changed the culture in Miami almost overnight, and could’ve easily made the playoffs last year, but 10 wins didn’t wind up being good enough.

Sean McDermott took over a similarly struggling franchise in Buffalo back in 2017. All he’s done is go to the playoffs in three of his four seasons, and he guided the Bills to the AFC Championship Game this past postseason.

See where the Dolphins and Bills rate in our updated NFL defense rankings

  • Flores Not The Typical Patriots Protege: Most Belichick assistants who venture outside of New England for their own head coaching gigs don’t tend to fare well (see: Patricia, Matt). Flores is the exception to that general rule, and seems to instill discipline, smart football and gets the most out of his players without being overbearing.
  • McDermott Seeks That Next Step: Getting one win away from playing in the Super Bowl has to be gratifying and frustrating at the same time. The Bills have all the means to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, and McDermott’s team is the more desperate one right now. That’s not the best of news for Flores and Miami.

Advantage: Buffalo Bills

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Dolphins’ new-look receiving corps vs Bills secondary

Dolphins vs Bills: Week 2 NFL preview
Jan 16, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White (27) celebrates their win over the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Bills Stadium. The Buffalo Bills won 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde might be the best safety tandem in the NFL. Tre’Davious White has established himself as an elite cornerback who can lock down one side of the field. Levi Wallace is a worthy No. 2 opposite White on the outside, and Taron Johnson has seized the nickelback job. Buffalo is absolutely loaded on the back end.

Last year’s Miami team wouldn’t be well-equipped to attack that group. IN fact, during the regular-season finale, Tagovailoa threw three picks trying to force the issue with inferior weapons. Now, the Dolphins have first-round rookie Jaylen Waddle, Tagovailoa’s former college teammate, to help their young QB out.

  • Fuller Out: Having now served the last of a six-game suspension, Will Fuller was supposed to return in Week 2 and make his Dolphins debut. He came to Miami from the Houston Texans, which seemed like a big upgrade. Unfortunately, Fuller is unavailable Sunday due to a personal issue, and it’s unclear when he’ll be back.
  • Secondary First: With how pass-centric NFL offenses have become, depth and star power in the secondary is an increasing priority for every team. The Bills got out ahead of that, and have been savvy about building their defense around an excellent group in the backfield. Their years of chemistry together should serve them well Sunday.

Advantage: Buffalo Bills

The bottom line: The raw talent edge Allen has over Tagovailoa, and the synergy between Buffalo’s defensive backs to confuse the Dolphins field general, should give the Bills enough to squeak this one out on the road and avoid losing their first two games of 2021.

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Can the Dolphins and Bills make the postseason in 2021? Read our NFL playoff predictions now