When the (4-5) Miami Dolphins travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY, to take on the (3-6) Buffalo Bills, they will be hoping to avoid a three game losing streak (8.25pm ET, Thursday).
Similarly, the Bills already mired in a losing skid, will hope to break their own trio of defeats. With history between these two AFC East rivals, the game should be highly contested with the potential to get physical. Sportsbooks agree the final score should be close as they favor the home team Bills narrowly. Here are some of the players and the storylines to keep an eye on before making your bet.
Fred Jackson OUT, CJ Spiller IN
It has been a bit of a whirlwind season for the Bills and their running backs as injuries have seen them shift back and forth between lead back Fred Jackson and his more than adequate back-up, CJ Spiller.
The 31-year-old Jackson has taken some beat downs and is starting to experience the wear and tear associated with six years of being an NFL running back and amassing over 890 career carries. Jackson been with the Bills for that entire time and since being given the lead back job in 2008, only failed to record a full season’s worth of touches once.
After going down with injury in the Bills opener against the NY Jets, Jackson missed the team’s next two games as he recovered. He returned in action when the Bills played the New England Patriots in week four and seemed to return to full health the following week as his team played the San Francisco 49ers.
Jackson played well when he returned from injury, splitting the carries between himself and Spiller. He was still considered the league back however and since his week four return, only collected under nine carries once.
Despite Jackson having his best game of the season last week as he rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns, it was learned after the game that he sustained a concussion and that he would not be cleared to play Thursday night.
Enter CJ Spiller. Spiller, a three year player out of Clemson University was drafted by the Bills as a way to spell Jackson. For the first two years of his career however, Spiller played very mediocre and as a result, Jackson’s workload did not, as intended, decrease.
When Jackson went down with an injury this season however, Spiller stepped in and filled the void magnificently. Entering the game in Jackson’s absence, Spiller received 14 carries to the amount of a career best 169 yards. He also scored a touchdown. The following week in his first start as lead back, Spiller rushed for 123 yards on 15 carries. He scored two rushing touchdowns as well.
Spiller was knocked out of the Bills’ game against the Cleveland Browns but returned when the team played the Patriots the following week. With Jackson back however, Spiller saw his workload diminish in the run game. In the pass game though, he has become one of quarter back Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite targets as he has caught at least four passes in each of the last four games.
The 25-year-old Spiller may not be quite the back Jackson is, but that doesn’t mean that this Buffalo offense is not going to utilize his strengths. With less wear and tear, Spiller can handle the heavy workload likely to be heaped upon him. As Bills head coach Chan Gailey even said, the team is not afraid to give Spiller as many as 30 carries in the match-up against the Dolphins as they believe he is a strong player who can handle it.
So if you are thinking about betting against Buffalo just because Jackson is injured, think again. In fact, Spiller might even give the Bills as great or perhaps even greater of a chance to pull away from Miami and their 5th ranked rushing defense.
Miami’s Physicality vs. Buffalo’s Defense
Despite losing their last two games, Miami has really played well this season. In fact, at 4-3, they were actually tied with the then 4-3 Patriots for first place in the AFC East. Since then however, Miami has gone on to lose their last two while New England, now at 6-3, are winners of their last three.
Part of the reason for Miami’s early season success was their physicality and ability to keep games close. Two of their five losses came in back-to-back overtime defeats against the Jets and Arizona Cardinals and another was decided by a late Indianapolis field goal.
The combination of rookie quarter back Ryan Tannehill, former #1 draft pick in running back Reggie Bush, and break out receiver Brian Hartline, has been very productive for the Dolphins this season. Hartline leads all Miami receivers with 49 receptions for 741 yards with only one game in which he was targeted under five times. Bush has also been active in the offense having received 126 rushing attempts for a total of 555 yards and four touchdowns.
Both Hartline and Bush should see favorable match-ups against the Bills 32nd ranked rushing defense and 21st ranked passing defense. In addition, Buffalo is pretty banged up on the defensive side of the ball as their starting defensive ends and corner back Aaron Williams are out of Thursday’s game. Still, Buffalo has Stephon Gilmore, their best corner, to cover Hartline. Down the field, this should be a battle to watch.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills Betting Picks Advice
Miami has the physicality to bully the weak defense of Buffalo. They also have Cameron Wake at OLB, who is one of the best pass rushers in the game and who could disrupt the rushing attack of CJ Spiller. With Buffalo having a pretty good offense, they have a shot to get this win. That said, they must avoid costly late game defensive mistakes that have plagued them this season.
- Take Miami’s offense and defense to prevail. The Dolphins have an attractive +3pts spread advantage with Bovada at odds of -115. Alternatively you could get better odds for 2pts less head-start with BetOnline Sportsbook, who go +1pt @ +105. We advise the former option.
- NOTE to Non-Americans: Place this bet with Bet365.