On December 17, the 10-3 Buffalo Bills erased an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the 8-5 Miami Dolphins, 32-29, at Highmark Stadium. The win gave the Bills a three-game cushion in the AFC East — they’d clinch the division title a week later in Chicago — and sent Miami scrambling to make the postseason as a wild card team.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who threw for 304 yards, ran for 77 more, threw four touchdown passes, and leaped over Miami defenders for the game-tying, two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, made a post-game prediction that night about the Dolphins.
“That’s a really good football team,” Allen said. “Who knows if we’ll see them again. I’m pretty positive we will.”
They will, indeed. Miami snapped a five-game losing streak this past weekend, defeating the New York Jets, 11-6, to surpass the New England Patriots and clinch the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoffs. That will send them to No. 2 seed Buffalo, who did Miami a favor by beating those Patriots to open the door for the Dolphins to make the postseason.
Buffalo and Miami split their pair of regular-season matchups. The Dolphins edged out the Bills, 21-19, in the blistering South Florida heat of Week 3, while the Bills secured the aforementioned 32-29 win at Highmark Stadium in mid-December — a game that ended with lake-effect snow coating the playing surface in white. If you’re doing the math, that’s a regular-season aggregate score of 51-50 in favor of Buffalo.
Despite the closeness of the previous two games, the Bills are double-digit-point favorites in the playoff rubber match, per DraftKings Sportsbook. That line may have a lot to do with the status of the Dolphins’ lengthy and notable injury list, which to start the week contains its top two quarterbacks, Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater.
Tagovailoa suffered a concussion in the Dolphins’ Christmas Day home loss to the Green Bay Packers. It was the second documented concussion of the season for Tagovailoa, who has had trouble staying healthy all season. As of this writing, he had not yet been cleared to resume football activities — or even do much more than aerobic exercise — and his status for Sunday is very much up in the air.
With a healthy Tagovailoa on the field, Miami’s explosive offense is capable of keeping up with any team in the league. Without him... well, they’re forced to grind out 11-6 wins to keep their season alive. Tagovailoa has played at an MVP level for stretches of this season, and if he’s able to play, it will dramatically increase the Dolphins’ chances of going toe-to-toe with Allen and the Bills in Western New York in a win-or-go-home situation.
The Bills are 3-0 all-time under head coach Sean McDermott in home playoff games, and they’ll look to keep that record unblemished this weekend. Bills-Dolphins kicks off at 1:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 15. All of our pre-game, in-game, and post-game coverage from Super Wild Card Weekend is below.