Dolphins (7-8) at Bills (5-10): 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: BUF -4.5 | Matchup quality: 16.9 (of 100)
Cameron Wolfe’s pick: Adam Gase’s message this week has been “8-8 sounds a lot better than 7-9.” We’ll see if his team buys it and shows up in a rather meaningless game in wintry Buffalo. The Dolphins are 1-5 over their past six contests in Buffalo. Josh Allen chewed up the Dolphins’ defense on the ground in the first meeting of the season, and it’s tough to expect much different this time. Bills 23, Dolphins 17
Mike Rodak’s pick: The Dolphins are 1-6 on the road this season and have been outscored by 98 points away from Hard Rock Stadium, second worst in the NFL behind only the Cardinals. The Bills are 3-2 when Josh Allen has started at New Era Field. Advantage, Buffalo. Bills 24, Dolphins 21
What’s at stake: Both teams are eliminated from the playoffs. — Seifert
FPI win projection: BUF, 67.3 percent. Though Josh Allen is looking to become the first player in Bills history to lead the team in both passing and rushing yards in a season, it hasn’t been reflected in his Total QBR or the Bills’ offensive efficiency. Allen ranks 28th among qualified QBs in Total QBR, and the Bills rank second worst in offensive efficiency this season, according to FPI.
If you thought the offensive display last week in Miami was bad, wait until the Bills come to town. One week after facing the Jags’ 30th-ranked scoring offense, the Dolphins‘ defense will see the league’s No. 31 attack. Buffalo’s offense has been stuck in neutral — mired in neutral — all year. The difference between these teams comes on defense, where the Bills have played more consistently overall. (You try defending short fields after Josh Allen/Derek Anderson/Nathan Peterman throws yet another ball to a waiting DB.) Buffalo’s defense is no great shakes, but it is viable enough to keep the team close, giving Josh Allen the opportunity to make a big play or three (often with his legs) to steal a game. Miami owns no such weapon on offense and must get back to basics in order to get back to .500. Run. The. Rock. The Patriots piled up 273 rushing yards on Sean McDermott’s front seven last week. There is no reason Adam Gase shouldn’t take the same tack, even without future Hall of Famer Frank Gore. But alas, I’m seeing the emotionally backed Bills riding their home crowd to a season-ending W.
Jets (4-11) at Patriots (10-5): 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Point spread: NE -13.5 | Matchup quality: 48.6 (of 100)
Rich Cimini’s pick: Can the Jets give coach Todd Bowles a winning send-off? Don’t bet on it. Bowles, who likely will be fired Monday, is getting a lot of effort out of his players, but effort won’t be enough to upset a motivated Patriots team. Rookie QB Sam Darnold has the NFL’s highest QBR over the past three games, but he probably won’t have receivers Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse. That means WR Robby Anderson will draw extra coverage, causing the offense to bog down. Patriots 34, Jets 17
Mike Reiss’ pick: The Patriots are the NFL’s only undefeated team at home this season (7-0), and they have talked this week about approaching the finale as a playoff-type game because of what is at stake: With a victory, they will earn a first-round bye for the ninth consecutive season. As Tom Bradysaid in one interview, a bye is essentially the same as winning in the playoffs, which is hard to do. They figure to work hard to change up their looks on Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Patriots 31, Jets 17
What’s at stake: The Patriots still have a chance at the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed. They would need to win and for the Chiefs and Chargers to lose. Otherwise, they can clinch a first-round bye with a victory or losses by the Ravens, Texans and Titans. The Jets are eliminated from the playoffs. — Seifert
FPI win projection: NE, 88.9 percent. The Patriots can clinch a first-round bye with a win or with help from others around the AFC, and FPI puts their odds at 90 percent. The Patriots also have a slim shot at the No. 1 overall seed with a win and losses by the Chiefs and Chargers, but the odds of that are just 3 percent, according to FPI.
How the Jets respond from last week’s crushing loss to the Packers could have a major impact on much of the AFC playoff field. If New York upsets Bill Belichick and friends and Houston takes care of Jacksonville, New England will drop to the third seed or possibly even the fourth seed, if Baltimore beats Cleveland. This means the Patriotswould miss out on a bye and instead would host a wild-card game. That’s huge for a number of reasons, including that the fifth seed will either be the Chiefs or the Chargers. What a significant swing that’d be. Yep, all that has to happen is for Sam Darnold to get hot, like he was in the first three quarters against Green Bay. Also at issue: Gang Green’s 26th-ranked run defense. In other words, the Jets are better off making Tom Brady beat them. New England’s ground game stacked up nearly three bills last week, and by and large, Todd Bowles’ defense has stunk in this area. Patriots win.
Last week 1-2
Season total 31-15
Dolphins @ Bills: 9-17
Dolphins are on a downward spin, and Bills trying to get lower draft pick, this trend continues. Overall the Bills are the better D and better coached team. Right now I take Josh’s legs over RT anything, he has really regressed. Dolphins have never had a real identity under Gase (who shockingly was given total power over roster….no wonder). Even Sparano had an identity!
Jets @ Patriots: 31-34
Jets are not anywhere near as good as this Pats team, Pats are heavily favorite, Pats must win! But I’m not buying into that!
Sam Darnold (even if haters rather not admit it), since coming back from injury, has been better than expected. Sam has increased offense level with mediocre no name WRs, and the third RB since week 1. Jets will score because this Pats D sucks, but Tom will prevail, he cannot allow himself to lose to the Jets….it hurts him too much. A Jets win would create all sorts of issues.