The Miami Dolphins will try to knock off the heavily favored Buffalo Bills in the 2022 NFL Playoffs on Super Wild Card Weekend. The bout kicks off at 1:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, the first of three games that day. The Bills are about as healthy as they’ve been all season; however, the Dolphins can't say the same.
If Miami is going to pull out a shocking road victory, they’ll need to overcome injuries, a talented Buffalo team, and history. The Bills have only lost one home playoff game to date at Highmark Stadium (that was the 1996 Wild Card game against the Jacksonville Jaguars; it was quarterback Jim Kelly’s last game).
Which Miami players are we watching this week? Glad you asked. Here are our five Dolphins to watch on Sunday afternoon.
RB Jeff Wilson
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is out. His backup, Teddy Bridgewater, has dealt with knee and finger injuries. Rookie Skylar Thompson started against the New York Jets last week, and he struggled mightily. Running back Raheem Mostert broke his thumb against the Jets, so he may be unable to go. That means Buffalo should expect a whole lot of Wilson this week, and if they can slow him down, they’ll put Miami’s offense in situations where Thompson has to win with his arm. That’s an advantage for the Bills. Wilson has 31 carries in the Dolphins’ last two games. He’s totaled just 97 yards on those rushes. Keeping the run game in check will prevent Miami from feeling any hope in this one.
WR Tyreek Hill
The reason for optimism, if you’re a Miami fan, is that the Dolphins still have two of the game’s most explosive wide receivers on their side. All it takes is a blown coverage or a missed tackle for Hill to turn a five-yard catch into a 70-yard touchdown. I’ve also read some people floating the idea of putting Hill in as both the kickoff returner and the punt returner for this one. If I were head coach Mike McDaniel, I think that’s an idea I’d seriously consider. If that happens, Buffalo can neutralize Hill’s dangerous speed on kickoff returns merely by having Tyler Bass boot each kick out of the end zone. Punt coverage, though, will become much more of an adventure if the Dolphins think outside the box a bit. In any case, Buffalo’s secondary will need to play disciplined, and the pass rush will need to affect Thompson before Hill can come open thanks to his elite speed and quickness.
WR Jaylen Waddle
Similarly, Waddle is a headache for the Bills, and he’s made some big plays against them already this year. With Buffalo’s secondary back to nearly full health and Miami’s quarterback situation a certified mess, it takes a lot of the bite out of a scary passing game. Whether it’s Tre’Davious White, Dane Jackson, Kaiir Elam, or Christian Benford outside on Waddle, Buffalo’s corners will need to stick with him and trust their help over the top. Dean Marlowe was effective, but unspectacular, in his return to the field last week. Waddle has similar big-play ability to Hill, and regardless of the quarterback, his speed cannot be ignored.
DT Christian Wilkins
Wilkins is definitely an elite player, and he’s definitely not on quarterback Josh Allen’s list of players who receive a Christmas card, either. For all his nonsense after the whistle, it’s his ability between the lines and during play that makes him dangerous. Wilkins has yet to record a sack in eight career games against the Bills, totaling 31 tackles and two tackles for loss over those contests. Keeping him away from sacks of all kinds should be top priority for the Bills this Sunday.
CB Kader Kohou
The undrafted rookie has acquitted himself well overall on the season, improving every week as his role increased due in part to both talent and injuries. On the season, Kohou allowed just 59.1% of passes thrown his way to be completed. He had 10 pass breakups and one interception, allowing just three touchdowns on the year. Allen hasn’t shied away from the rookie, and he’s actually had quite a bit of success targeting him in two games this year. In total, Allen completed 13-of-20 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown while Kohou was the closest man in coverage. With a pretty favorable weather forecast for the weekend (it’s expected to be 32 degrees and sunny on Sunday), Buffalo will be able to operate its passing offense as it wishes. Kohou will probably be a frequent target. Look for the Bills to move both Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis into the slot to give themsleves a big matchup advantage over the 5’10” rookie.