While the playoffs won't officially start until next weekend, the Dolphins will have a postseason mentally when they take the field to face the Bills on Sunday. Miami is one of five 10-win AFC teams that are vying for four playoff spots. With a win, the Dolphins will clinch their first playoff berth since 2016. If they lose, Miami will need either the Ravens, Browns or Colts to lose in order to qualify for the postseason. For the Bills, they can clinch the No. 2 seed by beating their AFC East rival. The Bills would also get the No. 2 seed if they lose and the Pittsburgh Steelers lose to the Cleveland Browns.
Buffalo is a two-point favorite to beat Miami, according to William Hill Sportsbook, with the over/under set at 43 points. The Bills are 10-5 against the spread this season and 9-5-1 on the over/under. The Dolphins are 11-4 against the spread and 6-9 on the over/under. Click here to see what our CBS Sports NFL experts think will unfold in Buffalo.
Before we break down the game, here's how you can follow the action in real time.
How to watch
Bills coach Sean McDermott has kept things in-house as it relates to who may or may not play on Sunday. We do know that the Dolphins will be without quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was recently placed on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list. Fitzpatrick, who threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns in Miami's 31-28 loss to Buffalo in Week 2, helped engineer a late rally during Miami's one-point win over the Raiders last Saturday night. Fitzpatrick has twice been called to relieve Tua Tagovailoa, who has posted a 6-2 record since replacing Fitzpatrick as Miami's starter.
While his statistics are solid, Tagovailoa yards per attempt is 1.5 yards fewer than Fitzpatrick. Miami's lack of a deep passing presence was one of the reasons why Dolphins coach Brian Flores made the quarterback switch during the second half of last week's game. With Fitzpatrick no longer an option as a safety net, the Dolphins' offense may try to get running back Myles Gaskin going early to help open things up for Tagovailoa. Gaskin totaled 169 yards and two touchdown receptions in Miami's win in Las Vegas. When he does drop back to pass, it's a safe bet that Tagovailoa will target tight end Mike Gesicki, who has caught 20 passes and four touchdowns in the Dolphins' last four games. Tagovailoa will have his work cut out for him against the Bills' eight-ranked pass defense. Leading the way for Buffalo's defense is strong safety Jordan Poyer (122 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles), Pro Bowl linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (110 tackles) and Pro Bowl cornerback Tre'Davious White (three interceptions, 11 passes defensed).
Miami's top-ranked scoring defense has been led by linebacker Jerome Baker (108 tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles), outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy (six sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries) and Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard, who has tallied a league-high nine interceptions through 15 games. A big thing to watch in this game is how well the Bills' top-ranked third down defense performs against the Dolphins' top-ranked third down defense. If the Dolphins are going to win on third down, they are going to have to find a way to contain Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, whose 34 touchdowns and just nine interceptions is one of the reasons why he was recently named to his first Pro Bowl. Allen has gained a quick rapport with receiver Stefon Diggs, who has also tabbed as a Pro Bowler after setting career highs in catches (120) and receiving yards (1,459). Fellow receiver Cole Beasley (82 catches, 967 yards) has been an ideal No. 2 option for Allen, while the running back duo of Devin Singletary and rookie Zack Moss has helped keep defenses honest.
While there will be no bye awarded for the No. 2 seed, the Bills still want to grab that spot heading into the postseason. That being said, there's still a question as to how much the Bills' starters will play, which makes it hard to pick against a Miami team that can clinch a playoff berth with a win. If Gaskin can gave success against Buffalo's 20th ranked run defense, that should make Sunday's game substantially easier for Tagovailoa. Defensively, the Dolphins have the players to stop the Bills' offense, as long as they can consistently get Buffalo in third and long situations.
Score: Dolphins 24, Bills 20