This Sunday features two 2-0 teams and bitter rivals in the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills. It’s a big early-season division contest in which the winner will have sole possession of first place in the AFC East. Usually, people say it’s an early-season game with 14 more games after, and it’s not as big. That might be true for the Bills, but for the Dolphins, it’s a massive game for two reasons.
One, the Dolphins have lost seven straight to their bitter division rivals and 9 out of 10 altogether since 2017. The Dolphins last year got beat twice by a combined score of 61-11, including a 35-0 home loss last year in week two. The Bills have won the division two straight years and are the odds-on favorite to win this division again. Some will say the Bills should run away with this division. If they win Sunday, then it’s looking that way. However, if the Dolphins can win, it would be a huge statement win because they will have beat the Bills and also prove that they can contend for the AFC East division. The Bills don’t have anything to prove in this division as they have won it twice in the post-Tom Brady era and look poised to be a heavyweight for years to come. The Dolphins last week proved they could win on the road in a challenging environment. Now they have to prove they can compete with the two-time defending division champions, who recently had their number. If the Dolphins lose this game, they will be playing for second place in the division, and they are right now, at the very least, the second-best team in this division.
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Secondly, as I said, the Bills have nothing to prove because they won the division two years in a row and are considered the Super Bowl favorites in the AFC. Many believe they have the best team in the league and should win the Super Bowl. I say there is a lot more season to go, but make no mistake, the Bills are one of the best teams in the AFC. This week is not only against your division rival but also one of the AFC’s contenders. The Dolphins haven’t fared well over the last few years against playoff teams and contenders. The Dolphins took a step last week but had to prove that was no fluke. Like last week, the Dolphins had to prove they could beat a perennial playoff team on the road in the Baltimore Ravens, where they haven’t played very well, and they rose to the occasion.
Last year, I thought the Dolphins would challenge the Bills for the division, and I was wrong by the apparent results and the way they lost. The Dolphins had no offense to speak of. The Dolphins have a much better offense this year with their skills positions. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle proved that they are arguably the most dynamic duo of receivers in the game last week. They have to prove that against the Bills. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa showed that he could step up and play well with his new supporting cast by having a career game with over 400 yards passing and six touchdown passes. Tagovailoa has to prove that wasn’t a fluke of a performance. The Bills have struggled against Hill over the years with his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. Hopefully, that can carry over starting Sunday.
The Dolphins’ defense has to step up and prove that they have an elite defense against one of the best quarterbacks in Josh Allen. Allen has owned the Dolphins with his arm and legs since coming into the league. The Bills have a dynamic passing game, but it will be a long day if Allen gets free running the ball and the Dolphins can’t contain him. The defense has to come to play.
The Bills are favored in this game, and they should. They appear to have a better roster on paper, and if they lose this game, it’s not a big deal to them because they have been here before. The Dolphins haven’t, and they have to have that game in the division against the champs, that they belong and aren’t just a flash in the pan. Consider the Dolphins have higher goals and hopes, and if they want to achieve them, it all starts Sunday because it could go a long way to proving whether the Dolphins are a contender or a pretender. If the Dolphins lose this game, they will be considered the second-best team in the division and a team fighting for a wild card.