Week 18 SNF Recap

Written by: William Petersen

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Week 18 SNF

The final game of the NFL regular season would be a decisive game to determine who would win the AFC East between the visiting Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins came to play in a first half that was dominated by turnovers and quick offensive answers that led Miami into halftime with a 14-7 lead. Buffalo looked to be having early season flashbacks from the first half of their season when Josh Allen was leading the league in turnovers and the Bills were 6-6 and out of the playoff picture after Allen threw two first half interceptions. Allen would finish 30/38 for 359 yards, two touchdowns, and the two first half interceptions that would curate a hole for the Bills to climb out of in the second half. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa finished the evening, 17/27 for 173 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions that would ultimately allow the Bills to hang around all night and eventually swing all the momentum of a massive 95 yard punt return for a touchdown from Deonte Harty. Buffalo took control of the game from this point forward and Tua and the Dolphins defense struggled against a Bills defense that has been banged up all season, but still found ways to win games. 21-14 was the final score in another classic AFC East showdown that would result in the Bills earning their fourth straight division title.

After a brutal start and a heavy dose of criticism to Josh Allen and Sean McDermott, the Bills managed to finally find an identity on offense and Allen’s ability to limit his turnovers helped the Bills rally into the now 2 seed in the AFC. James Cook has been a piece to their offensive puzzle that has seemed to slow down a bit in the past three weeks as Cook only finished with 13 rushes for 36 yards. Star wideout Stefon Diggs has struggled to break 100 receiving yards in a game since week 5 but showed flashes as to why he is the Bills WR1 after hauling in 7 receptions for 87 yards. The Bills love to show their slot wideouts a lot of targets, and this rang true as Khalil Shakir hauled in 6 receptions for 105 yards. The Bills defense was a major factor into why they came away with the win last night, hitting Tua nine times but were unable to bring him down for a sack. This was not a major issue for Buffalo’s defense as their consistent pass rush forced Tua to make quicker decisions that ultimately led to him throwing two major picks, the second being the one that would ice the game. Josh Allen went vintage on the drive that would give the Bills the lead, running 8 plays for 74 yards and a Dawson Knox touchdown that would ultimately win the division for the Bills Mafia. The Bills will now get ready to host a playoff game against the seven seed Pittsburgh Steelers who managed to squeak into the playoffs after beating the Ravens on Saturday and the Jaguars loss to the Titans on the final day of the season. Buffalo should handle this Steelers team easily as they have only averaged 17.9 points per game this season, while the Bills only allowed 18.3 points per game this season. The Bills offense should put this game out of reach as soon as the beginning of the second half, but as long as TJ Watt is on the field, Josh Allen will have to keep his head on a swivel for the player that is a leading frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year.

Miami will go into the postseason with some apprehension after the Dolphins only managed to be one team above .500 in the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys in week 16. The Dolphins I assumed would be one of the teams to be a top three seed in the AFC come playoff time but Mike McDaniels squad has gradually been regressing since starting 6-3. Tua has shown signs of greatness with his arm strength but I worry that if the Chiefs can shut down Tyreek Hill then the Dolphins offense will be hindered greatly, especially if Mostert is not able to split touches with Achane. De’Von Achane has been a wonderful addition to the Dolphins backfield as the Texas A&M rookie finished the regular season with 800 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns, and averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Achane finished with 10 rushes for 56 yards and a touchdown that would have illuminated how much this Dolphins backfield needs their two headed monster in order to explode in the ground game. Miami will have a tough time going into Arrowhead Stadium with a Chiefs offense that has struggled to catch the ball all season. Travis Kelce has also had a major down year after starting his relationship with Taylor Swift and he will need to be Mahomes safety blanket of the past in order for this Chiefs offense to put up points. I would be shocked to see Tua come into KC and dominate one of the top five defenses in the NFL, but maybe all this recent losing for the Dolphins will jump start their locker room at the right time. For some stupid reason the NFL scheduled this game to only be broadcasted on Peacock unless you are in Miami or Kansas City so if you want to watch this Saturday night primetime playoff game, you better start your free trial soon, otherwise you’ll be missing out on a great wildcard matchup.