Patriots vs. Bills Odds & Picks: Back Buffalo To Cover On Sunday
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Allen
Patriots vs. Bills Odds
Buffalo has lost six consecutive games to New England, and nine of the last 10. With Tom Brady now in Tampa Bay, can the Bills finally get past their archrival and take control of the AFC East?
New England Patriots
New England is limping into Week 8 with a long list of injuries. Wide receiver Julian Edelman had a knee procedure on Thursday and is out for an indefinite period of time. Fellow wideout N’Keal Harry (concussion) and defensive tackle Carl Davis (concussion) have also been ruled out for Sunday.
We also received an update Friday that reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore (questionable) hurt his knee in Thursday’s practice, making his status for Sunday’s game unknown. Gilmore has also been the center of recent trade rumors as the 2-4 Patriots contemplate reloading for next season.
The Patriots have struggled to generate offense since quarterback Cam Newton returned from the COVID-19 list. They’ve posted 28 total points in three consecutive losses to Kansas City, Denver and San Francisco. They had a mind-blowing 11 turnovers in those three games including a three-interception performance by Newton last week against the 49ers.
New England will need to heavily lean on their running game, which ranks seventh in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. That would be greatly boosted by running back Damien Harris, who was limited at Thursday’s practice. His 5.4 yards per attempt would be critical for a rushing attack already without starter Sony Michel (COVID).
The Patriots will also need Newton to return to his early season form that saw him produce 122 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in the opening two weeks.
With Edelman and Harry out, New England’s wide receiver depth chart is extremely shallow. Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers have combined for 23 total receptions on the season.
The biggest disappointment for New England has been that lack of defensive efficiency. The Patriots rank a shocking 25th overall in defensive DVOA, including 23rd against the pass. The will need to bring their best defensive effort against a Bills offense that is the NFL’s third-most efficient.
The Bills will be without CB Josh Norman (hamstring) and OT Cody Ford (knee). Both have now missed two consecutive games. Questions still remain for DT Vernon Butler (groin) and S Micah Hyde (concussion). Both will be last-minute decisions on Sunday.
Buffalo will need defensive end Jerry Hughes (foot) and linebacker Matt Milano (pectoral) to limit the Patriots ground attack. On offense, both wideouts John Brown (knee) and Isaiah McKenzie (ankle) should be ready to go.
The Bills need to find their offensive efficiency after three consecutive poor performances over the past three weeks. Their passing game has still operated at high efficiency, but has been hurt by quarterback Josh Allen’s turnovers. Allen has four turnovers during this time and has four lost fumbles on the season.
The return of running back Zack Moss from injury should jump start a languishing Buffalo rushing attack. His 6.7 yards per carry last week against a strong Jets run defense should translate against the Patriots, who are allowing 132.2 rushing yards per game (sixth-most this season).
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs will be a matchup nightmare, especially if Gilmore is out or even limited. Diggs still ranks third in receptions (48), fourth in routes run (266) and ninth in fantasy points per game (18.1), despite difficult recent matchups (per PlayerProfiler).
The return of Brown will stretch the New England defense, allowing slot-aficionado Cole Beasley to dominate the short-to-intermediate area of the field. Brown started the year with two top-15 wide receive performances, but has been limited by injury the past four weeks. Beasley is coming off his best performance this season, with 11 receptions and 122 receiving yards.
This game will cement the changing of the guard in the AFC East. New England has struggled mightily on both sides of the ball, and the trade rumors during a potential rebuild are gaining steam. The defense was severely substandard in home losses to Denver and San Francisco.
The Bills’ return home combined with improving health on both sides of the ball give Buffalo clear advantages. This game is projected for poor weather, with 20 mph winds and rain, which will help the more versatile offense of the Bills.
I’m backing the home favorite. Newton’s recent struggles have made New England’s offense too one-dimensional, and Allen’s versatility will provide enough cushion to cover this low number. I would back the Bills up to -4.5.
PICK: Bills -4.5