NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: 2 Ways Our Experts Are Betting Bills-Patriots, Plus Vikings-Rams & Ravens-Bengals
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Allen
- Two ways to bet Bills vs. Patriots, plus spread bets for Ravens vs. Bengals and Vikings vs. Rams.
- Our experts break down their favorite picks as they make their predictions for Sunday's early afternoon games based on NFL odds below.
Chris Raybon: Losing Dalvin Cook (reserve/COVID-19) is never ideal, but Alexander Mattison has filled in admirably with Cook out this season. This is still a great spot to back an above-average Vikings team as a home dog getting more than a field goal against a Rams team that is good, but not elite.
Kirk Cousins can get the ball out quickly — which can neutralize a fierce Rams pass rush led by Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller — as the Vikings’ sack rate of 4.2% rates second-best in the league. Cousins will also get a big boost with the return of Adam Thielen, which allows the quarterback to have a second player who can win routes if the Rams choose to match up Jalen Ramsey with Justin Jefferson.
On defense, the Vikings can counter the Rams’ eighth-best third-down offense (42.4%) with the league’s third-best third-down defense (34.3%).
According to our Action Labs data, the Vikings are 33-21 (62%) against the spread (ATS) as an underdog under Mike Zimmer, including 5-2 this season. Meanwhile, the Rams are covering at just a 28% clip in 29 games when coming off a multi-game straight-up winning streak under Sean McVay, going 8-21 ATS in those spots.
The Vikings are a good teaser piece, as you can tease them up over +8 despite them not losing by more than eight points all season.
I’d bet this to +3.
Brandon Anderson: For the second time in less than a month, Buffalo and New England square off in a huge AFC East battle. The winner will control its destiny in the division, making this a huge opportunity for the Bills to wrest back control after giving it away in the first meeting.
You remember that last matchup as the one effectively played in a tornado, when the Patriots eked out a close win. So what can we take away from that battle? Buffalo was the better team on both ends, despite the final score. The defense shut New England down (outside of a long run) while the offense moved the ball more consistently, but had a couple key drops and just-barely-missed throws. Play that exact game again 10 times, and the Bills should win six or seven of them.
That’s because they’re the better team.
The Bills have eight wins, all by 15 or more points. They’re 0-5 in one-score games, but we should expect teams to win about 50% of such contests. What if they had won two or three of those close games? Wouldn’t we think of them very differently at 10-4 or 11-3? Maybe even as the class of the AFC, like we did all season?
With weather less of a factor this time around, there’s more room for the better team to be, well, better.
While these are the top two defenses by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, I trust Josh Allen more in a big games. He’s also 15-7-2 (68%) ATS as an underdog. Plus in division games, short road underdogs are 20-7 (74%) ATS this season covering by almost a full touchdown, and 18-9 straight up with a 77% ROI.
If this game is as close and low scoring as expected, I have to back the QB I trust. And no matter how nice a rookie season Mac Jones has had, that’s still Allen.
Sean Koerner: While I expect this scoring environment to be much better than their 14-10, extreme-winds battle of Week 13, this total is too high.
The Bills will be without Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis while Emmanuel Sanders will play through a knee injury, so it’s going to be that much easier for Bill Belichick to game plan around taking away Josh Allen’s favorite target in Stefon Diggs.
The Patriots have similar concerns with their WR depth as the statuses of Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and N’Keal Harry are up in the air — they’re also not exactly equipped to take advantage of a Tre’Davious White-less Bills secondary. In fact, both defenses are relatively healthy, so we should see a run-heavy defensive battle between the top two defenses in DVOA.
I’m projecting this total closer to 41.5 and would bet the under down to 42.5 points.
Raheem Palmer: My model makes this total 46.5 points, so I’m showing value on this over.
The Ravens rank only 26th in Dropback EPA/play and 31st in explosive pass play defense, allowing 12% of passes to go for 20 or more yards. This creates an ideal matchup for Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and the entire Bengals offense. Making it even more ideal is that the Ravens’ secondary is missing its star cornerback Marlon Humphrey for the rest of the season. Their length injury report also features CB Anthony Averett, S Brandon Stephens, CB Chris Westry and DB Anthony Levine as questionable for this matchup.
Expect the Bengals to get whatever they want offensively. And with the Ravens likely chasing points in this matchup, I’m expecting a higher-scoring game.
I would bet this over to 45.5 points.