Patriots vs. Bills Odds & Picks: Monday Night Value Is On New England (Seriously)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Newton.
Patriots vs. Bills Odds
Amazingly, for the first time since 2008, someone other than the New England Patriots will win the AFC East. That team is the Buffalo Bills, who hold the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. However, if they win out, they would jump the Steelers and finish with the second overall seed.
Since Bill Belichick arrived in Foxboro, he has simply owned Buffalo with a staggering 35-6 overall record. On Monday night, the Bills will attempt to sweep the Patriots for the first time since 1999.
Let’s take a quick glance at each team and then determine where the betting value may lie.
The Bills are simply rolling right now and playing as well as any team in the NFL in the second half of the regular season. If not for a Hail Mary in Arizona, they would own an eight-game winning streak.
It all starts with the offense, which ranks sixth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The rushing attack has just been okay, but the passing game has been elite.
Josh Allen has made tremendous strides in 2020 — he’s thrown for exactly 4,000 yards in 14 games with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In 16 games last season, he threw for just over 3,000 yards with 20 touchdowns to nine interceptions.
The addition of Stefon Diggs has certainly helped, but there’s no doubt that Allen has improved his accuracy and is making fewer key mistakes, while increasing his average yards per attempt by more than full yard from 2019.
This is an aggressive Buffalo offense that likes to throw on first down and take its fair share of deep shots. Not surprisingly, the Bills rank in the top five in explosive play rate (per Sharp Football Stats). But Buffalo’s defense has performed at about an overall league average level.
There have been some positive signs of late, especially in the four games since their bye. Those reasons include:
- They’ve gotten healthier
- More consistent defensive line play
- Alignment and schematic changes at the linebacker level
The pass defense remains the strength of this unit, but it’s still vulnerable against the run — especially when it comes to allowing explosive runs. However, if they continue trending up into the postseason, this team is a bona-fide Super Bowl contender.
New England Patriots
It’s been a rough year for the Patriots, who won’t make the postseason for the first time since 2008. They’ll also need to win their final two games to avoid finishing below .500, which they haven’t done since Belichick’s first season as head coach way back in 2000.
New England’s offense has been very good on the ground (seventh in DVOA) thanks to one of the league’s best offensive lines (third in Adjusted Line Yards). However, the Patriots are getting almost no production through the air.
Meanwhile, the rebuilt defensive front has been pushed around all year (32nd in Stuff Rate) and just hasn’t held up against opposing rushing attacks. New England actually ranks dead last in rush defense DVOA. The secondary has been a bit better, but recently lost Gilmore for the season to injury.
The biggest bright spot of this Patriots team has been their special teams, which rank No. 1 overall in DVOA. They’ve been tremendous in every facet — special teams even single-handedly won them a game against the Cardinals. And for what it’s worth, the Bills special teams have performed at a fairly high level as well.
Bottom line: We shouldn’t be that surprised the Patriots sit at 6-8. This team is just devoid of talent on offense and the defense had as much attrition in the offseason as any team in the NFL.
After what we’ve seen from both teams over the past few weeks, I’m not surprised to see my power ratings show value on the Patriots. Everybody wants to back the Bills, while nobody seems to want to back the Patriots anymore.
Can the Bills maintain this extremely high level on offense? Possibly, but I would bet that we’re more likely than not to see a drop in efficiency. (Remember when everybody was in love with the Rams just a few weeks ago?)
When these teams met in early November, the Patriots were four-point underdogs in Buffalo in a game they could’ve won if not for a Cam Newton fumble in the final minute deep in Bills territory. In fairness, the Patriots have struggled since while the Bills have continued to play tremendous football, which has caused me to continue to bump them in my power ratings.
That said, I still make this line around Buffalo -5, so I would take New England at +7 or better.
From a total perspective, I do see value on the under at 46 or higher. I expect Belichick to eat clock with the ground game (like they do most weeks) to keep the ball out of Allen’s hands. And on defense, I expect Belichick to sit back and dare Buffalo to run the ball just like the first meeting this season when the total closed 41 (although wind played a factor).
The Patriots should have success on the ground and hit enough explosive running plays to keep this competitive.
It’s also worth noting that Allen has really struggled against New England in the past: In four career games against the Patriots, he has completed only 50.4% of his passes with three touchdowns and six interceptions. His 57.8 quarterback rating against the Patriots is the lowest against any opponent other than the Packers, whom he only faced once.
This is just a typical buy low/sell high spot on the home dog. It didn’t feel good to hit submit on the Patriots, but that’s a feeling I’m used to when betting the NFL. That said, I wouldn’t go below the key number of +7.
Pick: Patriots +7 or better