Going into the second Bills-Dolphins matchup of 2019, the distinction between the two teams seems clear as day. The Bills are in position for a wild card playoff berth, have the third-ranked defense in the league, and might well be leading the AFC East if it weren't for those pesky Patriots. The Dolphins are one of the worst teams in football and have been a national joke for months, lost all of their first four games by at least 20 points, and will most likely have a top-five pick in next year's NFL Draft.
Why, then, does it feel like Miami is the team with momentum at their backs?
Perhaps Buffalo's early-season wins blinded us to the team's true weaknesses. In truth, the Bills are half a team. While the Bills' defense is near the top of the league, the offense has barely kept up.
Buffalo's offensive production of 19.3 points per game is 25th in the league. Five times this season, the Bills have failed to crack the 20-point mark, including in two hard-fought wins over the Jets and Titans where their defense pulled them out of trouble. The same held true in their last meeting with the Dolphins, a surprisingly close 31-21 win at home.
In his second season as a starter, Josh Allen has improved considerably, but in his own words, is still "nowhere near where [he needs] to be". Meanwhile, Frank Gore is having his weakest season on the ground - understandable, as he is 36 years old, which is roughly 120 in running back years.
The Bills' unexpected loss in Cleveland last week exposed the team's offensive woes. Against the Browns' middling defense, ranked 19th as of today in terms of yards per play, the Bills and quarterback Josh Allen repeatedly wasted opportunities. A 5-for-13 rate on third down conversions , plus four penalties for 30 yards set Buffalo back on their way to a 19-16 defeat.
The raw numbers still point to a Buffalo victory over Miami in the rematch, but after two straight Dolphins wins, no one can deny that it looks less inevitable than it did two weeks prior. After all, raw numbers said the Colts, who looked like a playoff team last week, would easily blow away the Dolphins at home, and that didn't happen. Momentum is a tangible thing, and Brian Flores - who just rediscovered what winning feels like - will want to put that to good use.