The Dolphins have their work cut out for them if they’re going to secure their first playoff win since 2000 this weekend against the Bills.
Not only is Miami tasked with going to Orchard Park to try and beat Buffalo, but it must also do so without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The signal-caller is expected to miss his third straight game after suffering his third concussion of the season Christmas Day.
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters Wednesday the team is operating under the assumption Skylar Thompson will start at quarterback in Sunday’s wild-card matchup against the division-champion Bills.
The Dolphins were considered a long shot as soon as they qualified for the postseason with an ugly Week 18 win over the New York Jets paired with the Patriots’ loss to the Bills. Miami opened as a consensus 8.5-point underdog, per betting data on the NESNBets live odds page.
Betting action saw that number increase to a consensus 10 as the week began, but Wednesday’s QB confirmation sent it shooting up. By lunchtime on the East Coast, the Bills were a consensus 13-point favorite.
Per WagerTalk.com’s monitoring of the line movement, the Dolphins were actually 9-point underdogs at DraftKings Sportsbook early Wednesday morning before eventually shooting up to 13 by noon ET.
The total also saw some slight movement. It reached as high as 46 Tuesday afternoon at DraftKings but currently sits at 43.5.
Thompson will be making just the third start of his career and the first in the postseason. He made a relief appearance in Week 17 against New England and largely struggled but did lead a late drive that helped the Dolphins cover in a 23-21 loss at Gillette Stadium. He was 20-for-31 for just 152 yards in last week’s unsightly 11-6 win over the Jets.
The only glimmer of hope for the Dolphins — or Miami bettors — is they were able to give Buffalo a game twice this season. The Dolphins actually beat the Bills on Sept. 25 in Miami and lost by a field goal in mid-December. Tagovailoa was the quarterback in both of those games, though, and neither Thompson nor Teddy Bridgewater have been able to operate the offense with similar efficiency yet.