When the Dolphins run: Running back Myles Gaskin returned with a vengeance with the best game of his career against the Raiders last week, running for 87 yards and leading Miami with 82 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Gaskin had the hot hand, and the Dolphins used it in both the run and pass game to their advantage. The Dolphins’ run game has improved in recent weeks and will face a Bills defense ranked 20th, allowing 122.9 yards per game. Buffalo may eventually rest some starters during Sunday’s game, which could help Miami. Edge: Dolphins.
When the Bills run: Buffalo has a three-pronged rushing attack, with the South Florida duo behind quarterback Josh Allen gaining valuable NFL experience. Second-year back Devin “Motor” Singletary (FAU, American Heritage-Delray) leads Buffalo with 680 yards rushing with two touchdowns, while Zack Moss (Hallandale High) has 473 yards rushing and four touchdowns. They may get plenty of action if Allen, who leads the team with eight rushing touchdowns, leaves the game to rest for the postseason. The Dolphins’ run defense has improved to be 17th, allowing 118.9 yards per game, but they still need to get the job done in Buffalo. Edge: Bills.
When the Dolphins pass: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks to overcome his latest setback, which saw him benched after completing 17 of 22 passes with just 94 yards and a touchdown against Las Vegas. Dolphins coach Brian Flores pulled his rookie starter for the second time with hopes of winning of a game, and it worked out. Veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick put Miami in game-winning field goal range with 19 seconds left to steal the victory. Tagovailoa will likely play the entire game against Buffalo without Fitzpatrick, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Buffalo’s defense ranks 10th in yards allowed (345.7) and 14th in scoring (23.3). Edge: Bills.
When the Bills pass: Bills starter Allen is an MVP candidate in his third season, completing 69.1% of his passes (sixth in the NFL) for 4,320 yards (third) with 34 touchdowns (fifth) and an 81.6 quarterback rating (third). Allen is 4-1 against Miami and 3-0 in the Flores era. He threw for 415 yards and four touchdowns on Sept. 20 in their first matchup this season. The Dolphins have improved since that Week 2 matchup and have the No. 1 scoring defense, but Allen and the Bills are playing so well this season. The Dolphins may catch as break if Allen heads to the bench to rest for the postseason. Edge: Bills.
Special teams: Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders rebounded from missing field-goal attempts in consecutive weeks to make all four of his field goals, including a game winner, last week against Las Vegas. For a team like Miami, which has found itself in close games all season, Sanders’ bounce back was encouraging before the season finale and potential playoff push. Still, there is some concern, since the special teams unit is without returner Jakeem Grant (ankle). Miami will rely on rookies such as Noah Igbinoghene on kickoff returns, while Malcolm Perry or Lynn Bowden will handle punts. Bills receiver Andre Roberts also leads the NFL with 30.0 yards per kickoff return this season. Edge: Dolphins.
Intangibles: Flores, who is 0-3 vs. Buffalo, is preparing for the Bills at full strength. The Dolphins need a win over Buffalo or a loss by either the Browns, Ravens or Colts (who are all favored in their matchups) to reach the playoffs in Flores’ second season. Bills coach Sean McDermott is playing a cat-and-mouse game before Sunday’s matchup with regard to his starters or key playmakers. The Bills can rest them with a playoff spot already secured. Or they can choose to play them with hopes to secure the No. 2 seed, a home game in the second round of the playoffs, all while putting a damper on Miami’s postseason hopes. The Dolphins have more to play for, but not if the Bills have anything to say about it. Edge: Dolphins.
Prediction: Dolphins 27, Bills 20