The Buffalo Bills were three games behind the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East with five games remaining.
Now the Bills stand one victory away from their fourth consecutive division crown when they face the suddenly reeling Dolphins on Sunday night at Miami Gardens, Fla., a primetime main event that serves as the last game of the NFL regular season.
Buffalo (10-6) sprinted to the finish with four straight wins, while the Dolphins (11-5) have split their past four games. The Bills own the tiebreaker by virtue of their 48-20 home beatdown of Miami in Week 4.
The winner will earn the No. 2 seed in the AFC behind the Baltimore Ravens, who just trampled the Dolphins 56-19 last weekend. With a loss, Miami would be a wild-card team and play its first playoff game on the road. Buffalo is part of the wild-card race, too.
Miami hasn’t won a division title since 2008 and is one loss away from seeing its lead washed away.
“If we had said that after Week 4 that we’re going to play this Buffalo team again, and it will be the last game of the season for the division crown, I think everyone would have accepted that,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “That’s some perspective that I talked to the team about. Their eyes were laser focused — they will be eager to wash away this past game. The only way you can do that is to prepare for the next one.”
The Dolphins were annihilated in every facet of the game against Baltimore while missing running back Raheem Mostert (franchise-record 21 total touchdowns) and receiver Jaylen Waddle (1,014 receiving yards). Waddle is fighting an ankle injury and Mostert is dealing with ankle and knee soreness. They sat out Wednesday’s practice, as did cornerback Xavien Howard (foot), who isn’t expected to be available Sunday. He was injured early in the loss to Baltimore.
Back-to-back wins over two playoff teams — the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys — ignited Buffalo’s dynamite December, which also included wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots.
Last weekend’s 27-21 home win over the Patriots was achieved behind Josh Allen’s two rushing touchdowns. He had a poor game against New England’s stingy pass defense, throwing for 169 yards and one interception.
Allen has fared well against Miami with a 10-2 starting record (including last season’s playoff victory). He has 34 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in those 12 games.
Allen knows a lot is riding on the latest showdown between the Bills and Dolphins.
“We’ve talked about this for the last five, six weeks of how our season can go and what we want to do and what we want to accomplish and everything that we want to accomplish is still in front of us,” Allen said. “But again, it’s going to take a group effort in all three phases to go get a victory on Sunday in a hostile environment.”
Allen injured his neck and a throwing finger in the win over New England but was a full participant in Wednesday’s walk-through.
Bills coach Sean McDermott isn’t overly concerned about his quarterback.
“Still sore, we’ll continue to take it one day at a time,” McDermott said of Allen’s neck soreness. “But I anticipate him playing.”
The only Buffalo player to miss practice due to a reported injury on Wednesday was defensive end Leonard Floyd (rib). Safeties Micah Hyde (neck) and Damar Hamlin (shoulder) were limited participants on Wednesday.
For the Dolphins, offensive tackle Terron Armstead (knee, back, ankle) and defensive end Zach Sieler (illness) were among the players who sat out.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill was a limited practice participant, partly due to his ankle injury. Hill departed practice after a fire broke out at his home.
Hill is an All-Pro lock with a career-high, NFL-leading and franchise-record 1,717 receiving yards to become the first player in NFL history to record 1,700 receiving yards in multiple seasons (1,710 in 2022). Hill is looking to redeem himself after a season-low three-catch game in the first matchup with Buffalo this season. The Bills limited Hill to two receptions for 33 yards when they visited South Beach in 2022.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (quadriceps, left shoulder) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey (knee) were full participants on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media
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