Some may say this has the potential to be the game of the year.
Both teams have some important players on the defensive side of the ball who won’t be available for the game. The Bills will be without pass rusher Von Miller, who’s still on the PUP, and veteran safety Jordan Poyer, who’s dealing with a knee injury. The Dolphins will be without star linebacker Jaelan Phillips and cornerback Jalen Ramsey who suffered a torn meniscus prior to the season.
Miami has dominated the last two weeks, outscoring their opponents 94-37. Similarly, Buffalo has dominated the last two weeks, outscoring their opponents 75-13. Let’s take a look at the players to watch who could play key roles for the Bills on Sunday.
LB Terrel Bernard
Terrel Bernard is fresh off the game of his life, a coming out party per say. Well, the second-year linebacker has his toughest test yet, facing the Dolphins — the best offense in the league right now.
As a team, Miami likes to run, and loves to throw the ball over the middle. Bernard will be important in both aspects: stopping the run, and getting in throwing lanes. Not only will Bernard have to be exceptional with that, but communicating pre-snap to the defense will be pivotal. The Dolphins use pre-snap motion quite a bit. Add it all up and Bernard has a huge test this Sunday.
Jordan Poyer’s replacement
There are three guys who can possibly replace Poyer in his absence: Taylor Rapp, Cam Lewis, or Damar Hamlin.
My guess is that the Bills go with Rapp, who they signed in the offseason during free agency. Rapp has started 48 games in his career, and won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021. He’s known to be a good tackler, and a guy you can put anywhere on the field. The loss of Poyer is big for the Bills, but Rapp should step in and provide some quality play at the position.
Hamlin and Lewis both have experience in the NFL as well, while also being in this Bills system for a bit longer. The Bills have options on Sunday.
WR Gabe Davis
Gabe Davis has been on and off through the first three games of the 2023 NFL season. One thing he does consistently is score touchdowns — he has two so far in three games. On the season, Davis has added nine receptions for 159 yards. Finishing drives with touchdowns for the offense has been a struggle, but they’ll need to do it against Miami. Davis can help finish drives
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been the same old Diggs — fully dominant. Davis can can play a similar role in this game. If he does, Buffalo’s offense could outplay Miami’s offense, and move to 3-1 — good for first in the AFC East.
RB James Cook
The running game has gotten off to a hot start with Cook in a featured role. Cook has rushed for 267 yards in three games — good for third in the NFL.
What’s the best way to beat the Dolphins with the way their offense is playing right now? Long, sustained drives and keeping the clock running. Using Cook, the team’s best runner, will be important. He can make a difference in this game, especially if he finds consistent production through all four quarters.
Dolphins 28, Bills 27
I can’t pick the Bills every week. The Dolphins are hot, and their offense is hard to stop. I think they do just enough to outscore the Bills and move to 4-0 on the season. The Bills would move to 2-2.
I won’t be surprised if the Bills win. Nor will I be if the Dolphins win. Either way, I think they split their matchups this year. The Bills need to get hot at the right time this year. If they get hot in November and December, watch out.