NFL Power Rankings: A Dolphins win at Buffalo on Sunday would legitimize their hype
Dolphins vs. Bills in Week 4 might be the biggest game of the NFL season.
The Miami Dolphins play at the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. The NFL's game of the year snuck up on us.
There are other phenomenal matchups coming — Eagles-Chiefs, Bills-Eagles, Cowboys-49ers, a couple of Eagles-Cowboys tilts to name a few — but Dolphins-Bills got awesome in a hurry. There might be more on the line Sunday than any other NFL regular-season game this season. Included in what's at stake is the Dolphins' legitimacy as one of the NFL's best teams. Or perhaps the NFL's best team.
While the Dolphins were setting the NFL world on fire with their historic 70-point, 700-yard game against the Broncos, the Bills were a bit further up the East Coast, absolutely blasting the Commanders, 37-3. Buffalo had nine sacks, four picks, one interception return for a touchdown and a shutout until the final minute, when Washington kicked a field goal to save a little face.
There's no reason to believe the Dolphins are frauds. They look good. Clearly, their offense is a problem for other teams. But there's a big difference between beating the 1-2 Chargers, 1-2 Patriots and 0-3 Broncos and doing the same against a Bills team that has won three straight division titles.
The Dolphins have become favorites to win the AFC East at BetMGM. They still have to go through the Bills. Buffalo lost to a charged-up Jets home team in overtime of Week 1. They had four turnovers and still barely lost. They allowed a punt return touchdown in overtime. As we saw Sunday, bad losses and upsets happen. But other than Josh Allen's turnovers in Week 1, the Bills have been just about perfect. They were really good last season too, but had a rough playoff exit.
Sunday won't be about just the Dolphins trying to mark their territory atop the AFC East, and maybe the entire NFL. The Bills are going to hear a lot of Dolphins hype this week. When a team scores 10 touchdowns in a game, that captures everyone's attention. This week will be about praising the Dolphins, wondering if their offense is the latest version of the "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams or sharing Tua Tagovailoa's MVP merits. This will be Dolphins week. We love a fun, fresh story.
The Bills will probably be miffed by it. Buffalo has been the king of the AFC East since the Patriots fell off. The Dolphins are 1-4 in Tagovailoa's starts against the Bills, and the one win was a fluky 21-19 victory last season when Miami was outgained 497-212. The Bills have been clearly superior to the Dolphins the past few years, but Miami (and Taylor Swift, of course) will take up the oxygen in NFL talk this week.
If Miami wins this weekend, the hype will multiply. The Dolphins would be up two games in the AFC East with a road win in hand over the Bills in what looks like a two-team race. They would be 4-0 and Tagovailoa's lead in the MVP odds would presumably increase. There would be even more think pieces about Tagovailoa and the Dolphins revolutionizing offense in the NFL. They'd have a case to be No. 1 in anyone's power rankings.
Losing at Buffalo wouldn't mean the Dolphins aren't legit. It would be a reminder that the Bills are still the kings of the AFC East for the moment. For most of the past two weeks, when they were outscoring opponents 75-13, they've looked every bit the part as Super Bowl favorites.
It's an awesome game with a lot on the line. The Dolphins' offense is the talk of the NFL, but the Bills' defense has been great, too. Get ready for a great one Sunday. The outcome will shape a big part of the NFL season.
Here are the power rankings after Week 3 of the NFL season: