MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins have basically been the little brother of the AFC East since Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe in 2001.
Since then, the Dolphins have won one division title. They’ve finished in at least a tie for second in the AFC East 10 times — and no team has been a bigger obstacle than the Buffalo Bills, at least in the last decade.
The Bills are 11-1 in their last 12 home games against the Dolphins and have won the last seven. The most recent? A 34-31 Bills win in the Wild Card Round of the 2022 playoffs — a game started by third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson.
Tua Tagovailoa will be under center this time around, giving the Dolphins their best chance to win in Buffalo in some time.
And even if this wasn’t a revenge game — which it absolutely is, no matter what the Dolphins say publicly — the intensity would be ramped the whole way up.
Can Miami Dolphins Get Over the Hump vs. Buffalo Bills?
Christian Wilkins talks about his battles with Josh Allen over the years pic.twitter.com/9ajsj5o29l
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) September 25, 2023
“If you need to be motivated for a game like this, check your pulse or maybe consider a career adjustment,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said.
“So in terms of revenge, I don’t think [you need that] when you’re playing a quality opponent in your division,” he added. “[It’s] always going to be ‘Bills Game,’ is the way it feels to us, and they have earned the right to be the division champion for several years, and they continue to play at a high level.
“So, you know, I think it’s a very, very difficult challenge that I think our players are comfortable with because you sign up to play the best, and they’ve been that.”
The stakes are massive, considering how early in the calendar it is. A Bills win would move them into a tie with the Dolphins for first place in the AFC East and hand them the head-to-head tiebreaker.
A Dolphins win, meanwhile, would put them on a glide path not just to win the AFC East but potentially capture home-field advantage through the playoffs. They’d have at least a two-game lead over any division rival and own the head-to-head against both the Bills and Patriots.
What’s more, Miami would be 4-0 despite playing three road games and having a very favorable remaining schedule.
Barring injury or a total collapse, the only games where they wouldn’t be favored the rest of the season would be at the Eagles on Oct. 22 and perhaps against the Chiefs in Germany on Nov. 5 and at the Ravens on New Year’s Eve.
A 13-4 season — and the No. 1 seed — would very much be attainable.
“Every game is important,” Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said Monday. “This is an important game obviously because it is on the road, a division opponent. So we’re just going to have to focus on Buffalo and doing everything we can throughout the week to make sure we put ourselves in the best position possible to leave there with a W.”
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