The Buffalo Bills open as 16.5-point favorites this week against the Miami Dolphins. The Bills (4-1) currently have the second-best record in the AFC, while the Dolphins (0-5) are one of two teams still searching for their first victory on the 2019 season.
If you’re looking at that spread and thinking that it’s been a while since Buffalo has been that heavy a favorite, you’re correct. The Bills have not been favored by this much since December 6, 1992, in a home contest against the New York Jets. Bill Clinton was only President-elect. I was only in first grade. Josh Allen wasn’t born yet. So it’s certainly been a while since the Bills were favored so heavily.
In that game against the Jets, Buffalo came in at 9-3, having lost the week prior to the Indianapolis Colts and their new head coach, former Bills offensive coordinator Ted Marchibroda. The Jets were 3-9, coming off a 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs—a game most notable for the career-ending injury to defensive lineman Dennis Byrd, who was paralyzed after colliding with teammate Scott Mersereau.
On a windy day, the Bills outgained the Jets (345 yards to 275), totaled more first downs (21 to 17), and committed fewer penalties (two penalties for Buffalo, five for New York), but ultimately lost to an inspired Jets squad, 24-17. The games was tied at 17 with under two minutes to play, but quarterback Jim Kelly threw his second interception of the day to defensive back Brian Washington, who returned it 23 yards for a touchdown to give the Jets a lead they would not relinquish. Kelly lost a fumble on the ensuing drive, committing his second turnover in a 45-second span to seal the loss.
Buffalo turned over the ball four times in that game, losing two fumbles and throwing two interceptions. The Bills had beaten the Jets in ten consecutive meetings prior to losing this game, and while Buffalo would ultimately make their third consecutive Super Bowl, the Jets finished the year a dismal 4-12. However, for that one Sunday, the Jets were able to come through with a win against steep odds.
With Buffalo heavily favored to defeat a woeful Miami team this week, there are certainly some comparisons to be made to that Sunday afternoon 27 years ago. The Bills appear to be the far superior team, as Miami is on track to be one of the worst clubs in NFL history. Buffalo has defeated Miami in three of the last four meetings between the teams. The Bills have a modest point differential of plus-20 this season, while Miami’s differential sits at an abysmal minus-138.
The Bills are sure to be a popular pick in knock-out pools this weekend, but the last game where Buffalo was such a heavy favorite gives credence to the old mantra: “On any given Sunday.”