When the 2021 NFL season began, most expected both the Bills and Dolphins to make noise in the AFC East. Buffalo was coming off a 13-3 breakout, challenging the Chiefs in the AFC title game. Miami was coming off a 10-6 run fueled by Brian Flores' defense, Ryan Fitzpatrick heroics and a solid, if unspectacular, debut for Tua Tagovailoa. Now, half a year later, the two franchises couldn't be moving in more opposite directions. The Bills are 4-2, boasting one of the NFL's most explosive offenses and well on their way to another playoff run. The Dolphins, on the other hand, are 1-6, and no one knows if Tagovailoa will even be on the roster in a week's time.
Miami is playing more for pride than postseason consideration at this point, but it's also possible the Dolphins will use Week 8 to give Tua one last shot at solidifying a quarterback job that could soon belong to Deshaun Watson, the latter's legal issues notwithstanding. Can they play spoiler with so much hanging over their heads? Or are the Bills destined to roll, as they did in Week 2, when they cruised past the Dolphins in a 35-0 blowout?
We've got you covered below with odds, predictions, key questions, information on how to watch, and more:
How to watch
- Will the Dolphins turn Tua loose? Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns in Week 7, and remember he left Miami's Week 2 meeting with Buffalo due to injury. Perhaps, given a second shot at the Bills, this time with a healthy Tua, the Dolphins will let him air it out, in part as an unofficial final audition before the Nov. 2 trade deadline.
- Who's going to cover the Bills wideouts? Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders are hard enough to stop when you have healthy cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, Jason McCourty and Brandon Jones are all banged up to some degree going into this game. Miami needs to get after Josh Allen the entire time to have a chance.
- Who will step up for Dawson Knox? Maybe the previous question answers this, considering Miami barely has enough bodies to keep up with Buffalo's receiving corps, but it's worth noting the Allen favorite will be out again while injured.
Tagovailoa hasn't been bad since returning from injury, and in the grand scheme of things, he's gotten a relatively raw deal within a stationary Miami offense. Jaylen Waddle has continued to make use of his reps, meanwhile, giving Tua a promising outlet. But nothing else about the Dolphins jumps out right now. Flores' defense, in particular, is such a cause for concern that it's a wonder oddsmakers haven't given the Bills an even bigger edge at home, coming off a bye.
Rested up, Buffalo should have no problem moving the ball here. And that's really all they need to secure a sweep of Miami while distancing themselves from the Patriots (3-4) in the division. Maybe, just maybe, the Dolphins will keep it close for a bit if they get creative with Waddle, Myles Gaskin and Mike Gesicki, playing keep-away. And you can bet Tua will be motivated to show out with the Watson rumors ongoing. But this one screams Bills victory.
Pick: Bills 37, Dolphins 18
Check out CBSSports.com for even more predictions on this game and the rest of Week 8.