Special To GamingToday
A trend that worked out splendidly last week will be put to the test Thursday night when the Miami Dolphins, fresh off a 37-3 home loss to Tennessee on Sunday, travel to Buffalo for an AFC East matchup with the Bills.
This season, teams are 7-0-1 against the line coming off losses of 30-plus points, including two solid successes last week when the double-digit-underdog Rams played the NFC West-leading 49ers to a tie in San Fran and the Titans, a touchdown underdog, pulverized the Dolphins.
An intangible working in the Bills’ favor, however, is that they haven’t played a home game in prime time since 2008, the longest drought in the league. What usually happens is that fans unaccustomed to the national spotlight save their throats for such occasions. Buffalo fans certainly won’t arrive to the game hoarse from having cheered too much this season.
Now for a closer look at Thursday’s NFL Football game:
Miami Dolphins (4-5) at Buffalo Bills (3-6)
Time: 5:20 p.m. PDT
Line: Bills -1½ (45½ total)
Facts: One of Buffalo’s finest efforts in recent years ended in agonizing fashion during a prime-time home loss to Dallas in 2007 when the Cowboys scored a TD and a FG in the final 20 seconds to win, 25-24, despite five interceptions of Tony Romo. Buffalo was a 10½-point underdog.
• From 1970-79, the Dolphins won 20 straight games against the Bills, the longest streak by one team vs. another in history.
• Miami’s 34-point loss last week was the most lopsided for a home favorite since Tennessee was clobbered by Houston last year, 41-7. •
• The Bills were 0-for-23 on third-down conversions in two losses to Miami last season. In all other league outings in 2011, there were only four games in which a team didn’t have at least one conversion.
• Through Week 5, Miami yielded a league-low 2.7 yards a rush. Since then that norm is 4.9.
Analysis: Even with Bills RB Fred Jackson likely out (head), the rushing offense, second in the league at 5.3 a carry, should thrive. Shifty RB C.J. Spiller is averaging 7.3 a carry, best in the league. Plus, Buffalo’s defense gets to step down in class.
Instead of being on the road facing Tom Brady with a full week of preparation, they Bills are home against rookie QB Ryan Tannehill rated No. 29 in the league and on very short rest. Last week, Tannehill pitched 3 INTs against a Titans unit that entered the game with the league’s worst defensive passer rating.
Forecast: Bills 31, Dolphins 23
“Popular” Bob Christ has been forecasting NFL games for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in newspapers from coast to coast in Canada and the U.S. Contact him at [email protected].