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Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills: 4 bold predictions for AFC Wild Card Playoffs

Buffalo Bills
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills are set to square off for the third time this season as the AFC Wild Card Playoffs get underway this weekend. The pair of AFC East rivals split their earlier duels, with each team emerging with one win apiece.

In Week 3, the Bills lost a close battle 21-19. Their most recent matchup came in Week 15, which was another close game, with the Dolphins losing 32-29. While Tua Tagovailoa started both of their earlier scrums, the star quarterback won’t be in the lineup on Sunday, due to suffering a recent concussion.

In some ways, both the Dolphins and Bills enter the postseason with a cloud hanging over their organizations, although the situations are vastly different. The Bills are winners of seven in a row, but dealt with plenty of recent turmoil after watching Damar Hamlin’s injury scare right before their eyes.

Meanwhile, Miami backed into a playoff spot, despite losing five of their past six games. Clearly playing at less than full strength, the Dolphins will have to pull out all the stops to stick with what’s perceived as one of the best teams in football.

With just hours to go until kickoff, we make four bold predictions for the Dolphins vs Bills AFC Wild Card matchup.

Related: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills preview: Wild Card predictions, odds and matchups

Josh Allen throws for career-best 500 yards

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
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As he prepares for his fourth postseason appearance, Josh Allen has shown he already ranks as one of the top-three quarterbacks in the NFL. Allen has proven that he can slice up NFL defenses whether he relies heavily on his cannon arm, or whether he wants to use his open-field elusiveness to move the chains with his legs.

No matter what, when the Bills are on offense, all eyes are on No. 17. Many feel Allen is a strong bet to win an NFL MVP award, and possibly a Super Bowl in the near future, and he’s no stranger to putting up video game numbers during the regular season.

With Allen set to participate in one of the NFL’s most lopsided pre-game betting lines in recent time, there’s a possibility for the Buffalo QB to do something he’s never done before. In this case, we’re talking about Allen going berserk for 500 passing yards. His previous career high of 424 came in Week 5 against Pittsburgh, but he’s posted two 400-yard games against Miami in the past.

In what’s fully expected to be a blowout, we wouldn’t be shocked if the Bills wanted to have some fun, continuing to dial up deep passes as they embarrass their AFC East rivals to sink the Dolphins right out of the postseason.

Both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle top 100 yards

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins
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In most games, both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle would be viewed as major threats who can go off with a flick of the wrist. These are the NFL’s second-and-seventh-leading receivers in yardage. The two combined for 3,066 during the 2022-23 season, and that’s with starting QB Tua Tagovailoa not being in the lineup for four games due to injury.

While the two electric receivers combined for an average of 180 receiving yards throughout the season, when Skylar Thompson was the Dolphins’ QB, neither were able to top 100 yards. In the three games where Thompson saw his most playing time, Hill and Waddle combined for an average of just 81 yards per game, far short of their season average.

With the Dolphins having a strong idea they wouldn’t have Tagovailoa once again this week, expect the dynamic Miami WR duo to be at their best, with head coach Mike McDaniel scheming up ways to get his playmakers the ball. It may seem incredibly unlikely, but the only way Miami has a chance is if one or both of Hill and Waddle have a big day.

Related: Ranking best games on NFL Wild Card Weekend 2023

Buffalo Bills tie season-high with seven sacks

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The Bills made it a top priority to improve their pass rush this past offseason after realizing they needed to get more pressure when going toe-to-toe with the AFC’s cream of the crop. They signed Von Miller, but an ACL injury will keep the superstar pass rusher out for the rest of the postseason.

We’ve since seen the Bills put forth some mixed efforts and finished the regular season ranked 14th in total sacks. Their season-high of seven sacks came in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, with Matthew Stafford continuing to be planted into the turf.

Stafford is a 14-year veteran who was coming off his first Super Bowl victory, albeit with a makeshift offensive line missing its blindside protector. How do we think a rookie seventh-round pick who’s seen limited action will fare?

Sure, we still haven’t seen the Bills repeat this performance since, but if there’s a time for Gregory Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa, and Shaq Lawson to show up, it’s in the playoffs against a divisional foe they’ve faced twice already this season. Buffalo may have peaked with seven sacks in the season opener, but the situation’s ripe for a big performance with an inexperienced QB under center.

Related: NFL offense rankings: Running down the 14 teams ahead of Wild Card Weekend

Miami Dolphins keep it close, lose by just three points

NFL: Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers
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Vegas pits the Dolphins as 13.5-point underdogs, basically indicating Miami doesn’t have a chance to upset the Bills in the Wild Card Playoffs. That may very well be true, but this is the NFL. Nothing is predictable, and even without a Pro Bowl QB in the lineup, the Dolphins are still a professional football team with plenty of talent at the other 21 starting positions.

Expect coach McDaniel to have his players as prepared as ever in what will be his first postseason appearance as an NFL head coach. Even though the Bills are viewed as potential Super Bowl contenders, the Dolphins have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball.

We’ve seen some crazy outcomes when it comes to football upsets. It only takes a few odd bounces and/or tipped passes to lead to an unexpected finish. We’re not guaranteeing the Dolphins beat the Bills, but we will be so bold as to say the ‘Phins could keep it close, ultimately losing by just three points.

Related: 2023 NFL defense rankings: Best defenses in NFL Playoffs, Wild Card previews