BILLS AND DOLPHINS WILL START TO UNTANGLE MESSY AFC WILDCARD PICTURE
It’s hard to call Thursday Night’s nationally televised NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins a playoff game. Only six teams from the AFC will make it. The Bills and Dolphins are currently tied with San Diego for ninth place. Yet, the race is so tight right now that it’s a virtual playoff game in the sense that the winner will still be alive for a shot at the Super Bowl and the loser becomes a distant longshot.
CHASING THE PLAYOFFS IN THE AFC
6-4: Pittsburgh and Baltimore (tied for seventh)
5-4: Buffalo, Miami, and San Diego (tied for ninth)
That’s who’s on the outside looking in. Right now, “in” a Wildcard slot means Cincinnati at 5-3-1, and Kanas City at 6-3. Tonight’s winner will move into a tie for seventh...right on the cusp of the brackets. Tonight’s loser will fall to 5-5, and will be probably be too far back with too few games to play considering the competitiveness of the AFC.
Making things even more dramatic for Miami...they lost Round 1 of this two-game divisional set 29-10 in Buffalo back in Week Two of the regular season. Miami doesn’t want to fall behind Buffalo when Buffalo owns the head-to-head tie-break! That’s like falling two games back.
Viewers and sports bettors haven’t had many compelling prime time games to enjoy recently. At least we know this one is going to be important! Let’s hope it’s a fun watch as well. Here’s what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about the matchup...
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Buffalo: 5-4 (#12 schedule in USA Today)
Miami: 5-4 (#14 schedule in USA Today)
That’s as close as it gets. They’ve played very similar schedules, and have the same exact record. Buffalo is only 4-4 if you don’t count the Miami game, while the Dolphins are 5-3 when not playing Buffalo, and now have a home game to make up the difference.
Buffalo: 5.2 on offense, 4.9 on defense
Miami: 5.3 on offense, 4.8 on defense
Once again, very tight. Frankly, those are pretty impressive numbers this year given strengths of schedule that are fractionally above league average. Miami has the slight edge at +0.5 to +0.3. That plus home field advantage may be enough to put them over the top. Let’s take a second to note those strong defensive numbers. Only four teams in the whole NFL are better than 5.0 on that side of the ball. Detroit and Denver lead the league at 4.7. Miami and Buffalo currently rank third and fourth best in defensive YPP. Give some respect to those defenses!
Another dead heat. Both teams are doing a good job in dealing with risk/reward ratio. For Miami, that means Ryan Tannehill is maturing at quarterback and making smarter decisions. For Buffalo, it means they benched E.J. Manuel so Kyle Orton would give them a shot at making the playoffs. The gamble on overmatched Manuel ran its course. Orton isn’t a star...but at least has a chance to let you sneak into a Wildcard.
Buffalo: 4-5 ATS
Miami: 5-4 ATS
Miami would be 6-3 against the spread if not for the last second loss to Green Bay. They’ve been the bigger market surprise of the two teams. Though, if you look at Preseason expectations, both teams are better than many pundits and sharps had been expecting.
Current Line: Miami by 5, total of 42
Miami’s getting a lot more respect in the line than the numbers above would have suggested. What’s telling here is that the Wise Guys have been betting Miami...and winning with Miami...quite a bit in recent weeks. Oddsmakers are trying to guard against that by pushing this number higher than the public and mainstream media might have expected. Sharps think Miami is playing better than their raw numbers, and is a team on the rise. Sharps know Orton is better than Manuel...but he’s still Kyle Orton. To them, that means a fade in big games.
JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his full team of experts to pin down the right way to play this one. Has Miami made such a big step forward that the right number is closer to -7...and the favorite is the play? Or, are the numbers right that this is basically a toss-up, making Miami -3 the right number after home field advantage is factored in?
There WILL be a value play here. But on which team?! Don’t guess when a BIG, JUICY WINNER is just a few clicks away. Daily BEST BETS in all sports can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours. Thursday clients will also have access to the best from college football and the NBA (Bulls/Raptors and Nets/Warriors are the TNT doubleheader).
It’s time to talk about the college football playoffs tomorrow and Saturday. Here’s the schedule through the weekend here in the NOTEBOOK:
Friday: College Preview...Mississippi State at Alabama on CBS
Saturday: College Preview...Florida State at Miami in ABC
Sunday: NFL Preview...New England at Indianapolis on NBC
Monday: NFL Preview...Pittsburgh at Tennessee on ESPN
Big stories in all of those games...with potential season-wreckers for Mississippi State, Alabama, and Florida State. And, New England/Indianapolis just might be an AFC Championship preview!
You’re going to watch all the big games this weekend. WATCH AND WIN with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!
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