Zylbert’s NFL Over/Unders: Deciphering a Depleted Lions-Bills Matchup
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford
Betting odds: Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills
- Over/Under: 40
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
>> All odds as of 8 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Zylbert’s 2018 NFL Over/Under Betting Record: 7-7-2, -0.8 units
Last Week’s Result: Broncos-49ers Under 45.5 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
Oftentimes, as I’ve discussed before, it’s the least spectacular game(s) on the card that will stand out most to bettors in one way or another. In Week 15, for me at least, that happens to be this low-key “showdown” between the Lions and Bills.
Detroit is not mathematically eliminated from contention for an NFC playoff berth, but at 5-8 and needing to vault seven other teams, its chances of advancing are basically zilch.
Plus, the Lions are really banged up right now. Like, significantly.
The man who delivered Detroit its first 100-yard rushing performance in five years, rookie Kerryon Johnson, has already been declared out for this matchup, which will be his fourth straight on the sidelines.
Veteran wideout Marvin Jones has long been gone due to injury and now Bruce Ellington, one of the club’s most-targeted receivers in recent weeks, will be joining them on the inactive report.
Oh, and the Lions are going to be without at least 40% of their offensive line. T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner are out, and it’s possible Taylor Decker won’t suit up, either.
That all figures to make things awfully difficult for Matthew Stafford, who is already operating at less than full health.
In fact, Stafford hasn’t logged a full practice in weeks because of a back injury and played through a questionable tag last week in Arizona, which resulted in the former No. 1 overall draft pick posting his lowest passing yardage total (101) in almost a decade.
Overall, Stafford has tossed only one touchdown in the last three weeks — and that was to Decker, the right tackle. Clearly, something’s not right.
He’ll again be questionable this week against Buffalo, but given that he’s started 125 straight games — the sixth-longest streak in NFL history — we can expect Stafford to tough it out once more.
And when you also consider that the 10-year vet hasn’t been as consistent playing outside compared to indoors, that’s something under bettors can use to their advantage.
Beyond talented receiver Kenny Golladay, this is arguably the weakest supporting cast Stafford has ever had, too.
He started really feeling the brunt of that when Golden Tate was dealt to Philadelphia. In the six games since, Stafford hasn’t had a single outing with a passer rating above 90.0, and he’s churned out more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four) within that span as well.
LeGarrette Blount has actually done a solid job filling in for Johnson at running back, but we’ll welcome a heavy reliance on the former three-time Super Bowl champion.
He doesn’t have the explosiveness he once had and would serve well chewing up clock with frequent short-yardage runs. The Bills, after all, yield only four yards per carry, tied for eighth best in the league.
Buffalo’s top-ranked pass defense figures to make things challenging as well, being the only unit in football that cedes fewer than 200 yards per week through the air (185.8). The Bills may also find success up front, seeing as how Stafford has taken more sacks than any other QB over the last two seasons.
Yet, despite all of that, it may be the Lions offense that has the more productive afternoon. That’s because Buffalo enters Week 15 second-to-last in the NFL in points per game (15.5).
Josh Allen has been a different quarterback since coming back from an elbow injury a few weeks ago, electing to use his feet much more. He’s actually been impressive in this regard, racking up a whopping 335 yards on the ground the last three games.
However, this Lions defense is not one that allows yardage to scrambling quarterbacks.
Notably, there hasn’t been a single quarterback this year to tally even 20 rushing yards against Detroit, and it has faced some proficient scramblers including Cam Newton, Mitchell Trubisky and Russell Wilson.
As a result, Allen’s newfound running habits may hinder his overall performance here.
Who can blame Allen for taking it into his own hands (or feet)? His top two receivers right now are Zay Jones and Robert Foster.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that veteran LeSean McCoy is “not expected to play” after having to depart last week’s contest, which certainly won’t help the running game, either.
In addition, backup Chris Ivory could also be sitting, which would mean the reigns of the backfield get handed to Marcus Murphy and Keith Ford. LOL, yeah.
You’re going to want to get this under in as soon as possible, with there only being potential for the total to drop leading up to kickoff.
Play: UNDER 40 (-110)