Dolphins-Bills line soars with Tua Tagovailoa out: Miami enters NFL history as biggest wild-card round underdog

Dolphins-Bills line soars with Tua Tagovailoa out: Miami enters NFL history as biggest wild-card round underdog

Dolphins-Bills line soars with Tua Tagovailoa out: Miami enters NFL history as biggest wild-card round underdog

Following the news of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa be excluded for their weekend Super Wild Card playoff game against the second-seeded Buffalo Bills, Miami’s chances of victory seemed to go from slim to almost none. The Bills are now favorites with 14 points, making the Dolphins the biggest underdog in NFL wildcard history since the round began in 1978.

Biggest favorites in wild card history (since 1978)

2022

Invoices

-14

dolphins

2021

Chiefs

-12*

Steelers

2020

Saints

-11*

Bear

2016

Steelers

-11*

dolphins

2012

Packers

-10.5*

vikings

2011

Saints

-10.5*

the Lions

2007

Chargers

-10.5*

Titans

1996

49ers

-10.5*

Eagles

* Favorite Covered Spread

The increased point spread lines up with the Dolphins’ quarterback production between Tagovailoa and his backups, Teddy Bridgewater and seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson. Miami was averaging 6.5 yards per play when Tagovailoa started, the highest team yards per play with a starting quarterback this season among passers with 10 or more starts. The Dolphins’ number in this category drops to 5.2 yards per play when Bridgewater or Thompson started in 2022.

Dolphins starting QB this season

WL

8-5

1-3

GPP

25.5

16.3

Yards/game

6.5*

5.2

* Highest by any starting QB this season (min. 10 starts)

With the Dolphins being a 14-point underdog, that means Miami has the most points in a playoff game since the 1998 Divisional Round at the Denver Broncos (+13.5). Dan Marino’s Dolphins were bludgeoned by John Elway’s eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos in that contest, 38-3. Sunday also marks Miami’s biggest spread as an underdog in a playoff game since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970.

On the other side of this game, the Bills are the first team to be favored by 13 or more points in a playoff game since the Patriots in 2017. The eventual AFC champions were the 13.5-point favorites in the divisional round against the Tennessee Titans, a team they ended up beating 35-14. Buffalo is also the first team other than the Patriots being favored by 13 or more points in a playoff game since the 2001 Rams vs. Patriots in the Super Bowl. The upset win ended up being New England’s first of six Super Bowl victories with quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.

Favorites by more than 13 points in the NFL playoffs since the 2000 season

2001

Rams

-14 against the Patriots

2007

patriots

-13.5 against Jaguar

2007

patriots

-14 vs Chargers

2011

patriots

-13.5 against the Broncos

2016

patriots

-16 against the Texans

2017

patriots

-13.5 against Titans

However, for the Bills to reach the five biggest playoff point spreads since at least 1952, they had to see their line rise at least 1.5 more points. The two biggest gaps were the two Super Bowls: 49ers -19 against the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX (49-26 victory) and the Colts -18 against the Jets in Super Bowl III (loss 16-7).

NFL’s biggest playoff gaps since at least 1952

1994

49ers

-19 vs Chargers

1968

Foals

-18 against Jets

1998

vikings

-16.5 against the Cardinals

2016

patriots

-16 against the Texans

1994

49ers

-15.5 against bears

If the Dolphins somehow get a win at Buffalo on Sunday afternoon, CBS Sports play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz will have to come up with his equivalent to “Do you believe in miracles? Yes !” appeal during the U.S. hockey team’s run to the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics, as Miami’s victory would be tied for the second-biggest upset in a playoff game in the era of the Super Bowl.

The biggest spread-based playoff upsets in the Super Bowl era

Super Bowl 3

Jets

+18

Foals

Super Bowl XXXVI

patriots

+14

Rams

Divisional Tower 1996

jaguars

+14

at Broncos

Super Bowl XLII

giants

+12.5

patriots

* Dolphins: 14-point underdog to Bills on Sunday

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