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Dolphins vs. Bills prediction: Don’t bet on a lot of points in AFC East clash

Brisk weather and Buffalo’s stout defense will keep scoring down in Saturday night’s rivalry battle

Tre'Davious White and the Buffalo defense will aim to hold down the Miami Dolphins in snowy Orchard Park Saturday night.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Tre'Davious White and the Buffalo defense will aim to hold down the Miami Dolphins in snowy Orchard Park Saturday night. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)Read moreBrett Carlsen / Getty Images

When last we saw the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills back in Week 3, the AFC East rivals were sweating more than one of Mike Tyson’s opponents before the opening bell.

Playing in sticky 90-degree South Beach heat, a projected shootout never materialized, with Miami’s 21-19 come-from-behind victory falling well short of the 54-point closing total.

Fast-forward to Saturday night in upstate New York, where sub-freezing temps, snow and biting wind will greet the Bills and Dolphins in the finale of an NFL Saturday tripleheader.

With a wind chill expected to be in the low 20s, oddsmakers have the Miami-Buffalo total 10 points lower than it was when the teams met in late September.

But has it dropped too low? Not in our opinion, which is why our Dolphins vs. Bills prediction is focused on the total, not the point spread.

Note: Odds updated as of 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 16.

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Dolphins vs. Bills Prediction: Pick

  1. Under 44.5 points (at FanDuel)

Dolphins vs. Bills Prediction: Analysis

A few words on why we aren’t touching the side in this contest: Miami is playing its third consecutive road game (and fifth in the last seven) and is starting to show signs of a team in serious decline.

However, the Bills — who once routinely mauled opponents by double digits whenever they were victorious — are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games. And in the past two months, Buffalo has won only two games by more than eight points.

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Going back to the Dolphins game on Sept. 25, the Bills have three losses by a total of seven points; three double-digit wins (38-3 vs. Steelers, 27-17 vs. Packers, 24-10 at Patriots); and four wins by margins of 4, 8, 3 and 8 points.

So while we believe Buffalo is the ride side here, we can’t recommend laying a touchdown — especially when you factor in the weather.

Instead, we have a strong lean to the Under. And that lean is only partially based on Mother Nature.

Since putting up 30-plus points against four teams (Lions, Bears, Browns, Texans) that rank 26th or worse in scoring defense, Tua Tagovailoa and Miami’s once-potent offense has been held to 17 each of the last two weeks.

One of those games — two weeks ago in San Francisco — is understandable: The 49ers allow an NFL-low 15.2 points per game.

The other — last Sunday night against the Chargers — is not: Los Angeles is 29th in scoring defense. And the Dolphins got seven of their 17 points when fleet-footed wideout Tyreek Hill picked up teammate Jeff Wilson’s fumble and raced 57 yards to the end zone.

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On Saturday, the Dolphins butt helmets with the NFL’s No. 2 scoring defense. The Bills yield just 17 points per contest.

Buffalo opened the season holding eight straight foes to 21 points or fewer (14.8 per game). The defense slipped a bit the next three weeks against the Vikings (33 points), Browns (23) and Lions (25), but has rebounded to limit the Patriots and Jets to a total of 22 points the last two weeks.

Among the quarterbacks Buffalo has held in check this season: Tagovailoa (21 points), the Rams’ Matthew Stafford (10), the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson (20), the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (20) and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (20).

Also, in five games played in Orchard Park, the Bills have surrendered a total of 72 points — and 33 of those came in the overtime loss to the Vikings.

Long way of saying we don’t expect a team from Miami — which reportedly used sideline heaters last week in Los Angeles — to light up the scoreboard in freezing Buffalo on Saturday.

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We also don’t expect Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense to do a lot of damage, either.

They managed just 20 points in bad weather last week against the Jets. And since opening the season with 31- and 41-point efforts against the Rams and Titans, Buffalo has topped 24 points just five times in 11 games and scored more than 28 just three times (only once at home).

This explains why the Bills are 10-3 to the Under this season. Of those 10 Unders, nine have ended with 44 points or fewer.

Additionally, the last three Miami-Buffalo clashes since the start of last season have stayed low. Final scores: 35-0 Bills, 26-11 Bills, 21-19 Dolphins.

Look for more of the same on a brisk mid-December night in Buffalo. Play this one Under the total at FanDuel.

Dolphins vs. Bills odds (via FanDuel)

  1. Point spread: Dolphins (+7, -115) @ Bills (-7, -105)

  2. Moneyline: Dolphins (+250) @ Bills (-310)

  3. Total: 44.5 points

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.