Although the New England Patriots have won three straight and are once again out in front in the AFC East, the division is more up for grabs this season than in years past. At 6-3, the Pats only have a two game cushion on the Miami Dolphins and a three game edge on the Bills and Jets, so with seven games remaining, no one is out of it just yet. Two teams that have an opportunity to put themselves in contention tonight on Thursday Night Football are the Dolphins and the Bills, who square off tonight in a major East showdown. Here’s a look at the matchup and who will cover the spread tonight.
The Bills, who are currently on a three-game losing streak, will be without running back Fred Jackson, who suffered a concussion late in the 37-31 loss last week to the Patriots. C.J. Spiller will fill in and although he has had a nice season for himself as well, the Bills will be at a disadvantage without the 1-2 combo of Jackson and Spiller, who have combined for more than 1400 yards of total offense this season.
The Dolphins, who have won six out of the last eight meetings between the teams, also want to try and establish the run with Reggie Bush as the feature back. Bush has failed to find running room in recent weeks, averaging just 37.2 yards per game in his last five, but he has had plenty of success against the Bills, rushing for more than 200 total yards in their two meetings last season.
The Phins would also like to see better production in the passing game with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is currently ranked 29th in passing efficiency. The good news for Miami and for Tannehill is that the Bills defense gives up more than 400 yards of total offense per game, which is good for (or not good for) a 31 ranking in the league.
The Bills will hope that their defense can cause some turnovers, which has been an issue for Miami this season, with star defensive lineman Mario Williams, who has 4.5 sacks this season but no forced fumbles.
Considering the past success Miami has had against Buffalo, that Fred Jackson, one of Buffalo’s only offensive threats, will be out and that Miami’s rushing attack matches up well with the worst run defense in the league, I have to go with the Dolphins tonight. Take Miami to cover +1 and win outright on Thursday Night Football.