The Bills and the Dolphins are currently dueling it out for the AFC East title. Who would’ve thought? The Patriots are sitting below 0.500 while Buffalo and Miami have only 3 losses each. With a Week 17 matchup between these two teams, a true 1990s style playoff-run is on the horizon. Let’s take a look at the remaining schedule for both teams.
The Dolphins have an easy 3-game stretch followed by a tough 4-game stretch. First, they will play the Broncos, most likely without Drew Lock, who didn’t practice Wednesday with a rib injury. Then they will move on to the Jets, who just cut their best cornerback and put their second best on IR. They’re obviously in full-tank mode. Hopefully, Trevor Lawrence doesn’t end up in the AFC East. Next they will move on to the Bengals. Although they’ve played much better with Joe Burrow at quarterback, they still haven’t proven their ability to win games.
The next four games will determine wether or not the Dolphins are truly a threat for the division. They could easily come into these four games with 9 wins. However, a win against the Chiefs is a long shot. It could prove to be a trap game, in which the Dolphins could move to 10-3 and really threaten the division, but more than likely it should be a loss. Then, Miami moves on to the Patriots. Despite Cam and company sitting at below 0.500, they recently beat the Ravens, and Belichick has years of scouting and coaching against Miami under his belt. It’s weird to think, but the Bills might be rooting for a Patriots win over the Dolphins for the first time in a long time. Before facing off against Buffalo in Week 17, the Dolphins will have to play the Raiders, who have proven themselves capable of beating good teams this year. It won’t be a blowout in either direction, most likely.
The Bills, on the other hand, have six games left after the bye. There’s no easy separation into hard and easy sections. The Bills will have a lighter game against the 2-win Chargers. However, Herbert (despite looking like a 15-years old after his haircut) and the Los Angeles crew have a better point differential than the 6-3 Browns. They’ve lost a couple games by a couple points late. It’s not going to be an easy game. The only redeeming thing about this situation is the anger that Bills players might have after the game-that-shall-not-be-spoken-of. The next game the Bills will face off against the injury-ridden 49ers without Goropollo or Kittle. Their primary running backs will likely be healthy, as well as Richard Sherman, but this is a must-win game.
The Buffalo Bills will then have to play the Pittsburg Steelers. Will they come in undefeated? Honestly, that might play into the Bills hands. They have to drop one game at some point. Otherwise, this would be the worst undefeated team in modern times. An easier matchup against the Broncos should be an easier game. But it will be followed by a rematch against the Patriots. Coming into the season, the prediction by most would be that Bills would split the series with New England. The way the first game ended, it will for sure be a tough matchup and a Bills win is by no means guaranteed.
My honest prediction (as a Bills fan) is as follows:
Dolphins remaining games
Bills remaining games
It’s hurts to say this. But the Week 17 matchup is looking more and more like it will be for the division. If the Bills and Dolphins are both 10-5 heading into the game, no tie-breakers would be necessary. If the Dolphins drop an extra game along the way, and then beat the Bills to tie their record, it would then move on to record within the division. The Dolphins are currently 1-2 with games against the Jets, Patriots, and Bills left. In this scenario, a win against the Bills would put them at 2-2. The Bills are currently 4-0 in the division. For the Dolphins to have a chance, it would mean beating both the Jets and Patriots. However, if Miami beats those two teams, it’s unlikely they will be one game behind in the first place. Ultimately, what this complicated situation comes down to, is this:
If the Bills and Dolphins win the games and lose the games they are “suppose to” then the Week 17 matchup will be winner-takes-all for the division. If the Dolphins lose a game they are “suppose to” win then they likely lost the division. If the Bills lose a game they are “suppose to” win, then they would have to beat Miami Week 17.
Any Bills fan would have preferred an easy walk to the AFC East title. However, battling it out with the Dolphins rather than the Patriots is a situation any Bills fan would have chosen at the start of the season. I’m confident in a Bills win the last week of the season. It would, of course, be a “character win.” And that’s what McDermott is all about.