NFL Playoff Odds, Picks, Predictions: An Expert’s Guide To Betting Patriots-Bills On Saturday Night, Plus DFS
Getty Images. Pictured: Bills WR Stefon Diggs, Raiders TE Darren Waller
NFL Odds: Patriots-Bills
|Time||8:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings|
Pick: Pass for now
The Patriots fit the trend of wild-card underdogs of seven or fewer points having covered at a 68% clip since 2003, but I can’t get behind them due to their offensive struggles outside of Foxborough.
This game has a wide range of outcomes and is tough to handicap, especially after the first two matchups turned out so differently. Follow me in the Action app to see if I end up jumping on some props or the total (the under could be in play if it keeps rising) before kickoff.
» Our staff’s four best bets for Patriots-Bills
Click the arrow to read Raybon’s DFS analysis
After an ugly game in the first matchup in a wind-affected loss in Week 13, Josh Allen rebounded well in the second matchup. He threw for 343 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while adding 12 carries for 64 yards on the ground against a Patriots defense that finished the year third in DVOA against the pass and ninth versus the run.
Allen projects as the QB1 on this slate, so I have no problem paying up for him on DraftKings, where he is only $600 more than Burrow. He’s a GPP-only play for me on FanDuel, however, at a price of $1,000 above Burrow.
Despite posting a 7/85/1 line against the Patriots in Week 16, Stefon Diggs is a tough sell in GPPs due to a high salary and a projected roster percentage north of 40%. The Patriots are ranked second in DVOA versus opposing WR1s, allowing the second-fewest schedule-adjusted receiving yards per game to the position (49.7).
As the Patriots play man coverage at one of the highest rates in the NFL, this is a good spot for Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox, who lead the Bills with six and five touchdowns versus man coverage, respectively. Both project to be in half or fewer lineups as Diggs and are cheaper.
Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders both struggle versus man coverage, with Beasley averaging just 1.10 yards per route versus man while Sanders averages 1.05 – sixth and seventh on the team, respectively. Beasley projects to be in more lineups than Davis and Knox, so he’s a fade for me. Sanders carries some intrigue, though, as he is expected to garner a single-digit roster percentage.
Over the past five games, Devin Singletary has posted scrimmage-yard totals of 86, 96, 78, 110 and 112, good for an average of 96.4 yards per game. He has to be locked into cash game lineups, and that would likely be true even if it were a full 16-game slate. Zack Moss will have next to no rostership, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t play a single snap.
I’d rather go with Richard as a dart throw.
The Patriots offense’s Achilles heel has been playing on the road: Their scoring average drops over eight points, and Mac Jones’ passer rating drops more than 20 points. Even on Showdown slates, Jones is a GPP-only option for me, as fading him on DK Showdown allows you to get in Allen, Singletary and all three Patriots RBs.
The running game should take center stage here for the Patriots, as they should be able to run the ball out of heavy personnel, which would force the Bills to make a choice between leaving their nickel defense on the field and sacrificing run defense, or removing one of the defense’s better players — nickelback Taron Johnson — for a linebacker. Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden are each expected to fall outside the top three RBs in rostership percentage, so if you have any one of them in GPPs and they score a TD, you have a big edge.
Nelson Agholor returned from a one-game absence to lead the Patriots with a 97% routes-run-per-dropback rate last week. At $3,500 on DraftKings, he is a viable cash game punt play that allows you to get up to the ideal options at the other skill spots.
Jakobi Meyers is the most expensive Patriots WR and projected to be the most highly rostered one as well, so I think the play here is to pivot to Kendrick Bourne. The Bills are 10th in man coverage rate, and Bourne leads all active Patriots pass catchers with 2.11 yards per route run versus man coverage. Meyers is averaging 1.75 yards per route versus man and has a tough matchup in the slot against the aforementioned Johnson.
Hunter Henry is priced in-between Waller and Uzomah, resulting in what we project will be the third-most rostership at his position, making him the ideal GPP TE. Henry leads the Patriots with 17 red-zone targets and nine targets inside the 10. Jonnu Smith could see more action than usual if the Patriots aim to recreate the game plan that worked in the first matchup and go heavy, so I like him as a GPP dart throw. He is also viable as a cash game punt play on DK Showdown slates.
N’Keal Harry was healthy-scratched in Week 17 and ran a route on just 12% of Jones’ dropbacks last week. He’s in danger of playing zero snaps.
The Patriots DST makes sense on FanDuel at just $3,800. The Bills DST is my preference of the two in GPPs, though, given the struggles of the Patriots offense on the road.
- Cash Plays: QB Josh Allen, RB Devin Singletary, WR Nelson Agholor, DST New England Patriots
- GPP Plays: QB Mac Jones, RB Damien Harris, RB Brandon Bolden, RB Rhamondre Stevenson, WR Kendrick Bourne, WR Gabriel Davis, WR Emmanuel Sanders, TE Dawson Knox, TE Hunter Henry, TE Jonnu Smith, DST Buffalo Bills
|Time||4:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings|
Pick: Raiders +6 (to +4.5)
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: The Bengals’ 32-13 victory over the Raiders in Week 11 does not mean the Bengals are the smash play here. On the contrary: Per my co-host Stuckey on the Action Network Podcast, non-divisional teams that lost in the regular season to an opponent that they go on to face again in the postseason are 60% against the spread (ATS) in the rematch since 1980.
The Raiders have the benefit of making adjustments … and Raiders backers have the advantage of an inflated line because of the result of the first matchup.
As crazy as it may sound after Joe Burrow threw for a cool 971 yards over his past two games, the Raiders defense matches up quite well with the Bengals – or as well as you can possibly matchup against a unit as talented as this, at least.
This is due to three main factors:
1. The Raiders are the zone-heaviest defense in the NFL.
Burrow is in a class of his own against man coverage.
Against man, the Bengals led the NFL with 11.1 yards per targeted pass attempt — more than a full yard more than the second-place Rams (10.0). Their 10.8% touchdown rate versus man coverage was fifth-best. The Bengals are still good against zone, but not otherworldly, averaging 8.7 yards per target pass attempt and a 3.1% touchdown rate.
2. The Raiders blitz at the lowest rate of any defense in the NFL.
Burrow also shreds the blitz, averaging 10.8 yards per attempt and a 9.2% touchdown rate. When not blitzed, those figures dip to 8.3 and 5.8%, respectively.
3. The Bengals’ biggest weakness is right tackle.
And that’s where Raiders DE Maxx Crosby lines up. He led the NFL with 101 pressures during the regular season and is sure to impact the game lined up across from right tackle Isaiah Prince, who has been a disaster in pass protection in place of injured starter Riley Reiff (IR-ankle).
In the first matchup between these teams, Burrow threw for just 148 yards and averaged just 5.1 yards per attempt, both season-lows. Coupled with the Raiders’ strides on run defense — they finished the regular season ranked 10th in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA — this does not have the looks of a blowup spot for the Bengals offense.
All of the talk of the Raiders’ luck in overtime games is fair, but it ignores the fact that the Raiders are also due for positive regression in key areas on offense.
The Raiders are 26th in third-down conversion rate (37.4%) and 22nd in red-zone conversion rate (51.7%), both last among playoff teams. However, those metrics tend to regress heavily toward the mean and aren’t as predictive as how a team performs on early downs, and the Raiders rank fourth in success rate on first and second downs (54%), according to Sharp Football Stats.
The Bengals have been mediocre on defense, clocking in at 19th in DVOA — two spots below the Raiders, mind you — so it wouldn’t be surprising at all if the Raiders are able to hang with the Bengals in the scoring department.
The Bengals are the better team, but this is one of the tougher matchups they could have drawn.
Taking the Raiders at +4.5 or higher not only allows you to capitalize if the Raiders pull off the upset — which is not out of the question — but also to cover if the Bengals simply win by the key numbers of three or four. That’s a very likely outcome given how these teams matchup and also given how teams that lost the regular season matchup tend to tighten things up in the postseason rematch.
Per our Action Labs data, wild-card underdogs of seven or fewer points have covered at a 67% clip since 2003 (28-14-1).
I also like C.J. Uzomah under 26.5 receiving yards here.
The Bengals can’t leave Prince one-on-one with Crosby, so I expect Uzomah to chip often, and just flat-out stay in to block on some passing plays. And even if the Raiders didn’t have the threat of Crosby, this is still a bad matchup for him, as he tends to have his big games against man coverage teams, not zone-heavy teams like the Raiders.
- vs. man: 1.67 yards per route, 19.2 yards per reception, 8.8 aDOT
- vs. zone: 0.97 yards per route, 7.5 yards per reception, 3.6 aDOT
In the first matchup, Uzomah had just two catches for nine yards on three targets, and he’s been held to 20 or fewer yards in four of his past seven games.
Click the arrow to read Raybon’s DFS analysis
Over his last two games, Joe Mixon has handled 30 of the Bengals’ 32 backfield carries. It’s go time, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he handles every carry in this spot. The Raiders run defense is all the way up to 10th in DVOA, but Mixon posted a 30/123/2 line against them in Week 11 and is my overall RB1 for the wild-card slate and has to be locked into cash game lineups. I also consider Mixon the top option for the Captain spot in Showdown lineups.
Samaje Perine played 14% of the snaps in Week 16 and 29% in Week 17, and the fact that he was rested suggests he will have some type of role, albeit minor. His only use is as a cash game punt play on DK Showdown slates at $2,000.
Joe Burrow threw for only 148 yards in the first matchup against the Raiders and hasn’t been as explosive against zone-heavy teams like them, so I don’t think he’s a must-play in cash games. I’m using him on FanDuel, where he is $1,000 cheaper than Josh Allen, but I don’t mind paying the extra $600 for Allen on DraftKings.
Tee Higgins is expected to be the slate’s most highly rostered WR, and rightfully so, as he – not Ja’Marr Chase – leads the Bengals with 2.41 yards per route run against zone coverage (YPPR). Chase is still very good against zone coverage (2.31 YPRR), and due to his salary, he projects to appear on fewer rosters than Higgins.
Chase is best suited for GPPs; Higgins for cash games.
Tyler Boyd gives you the most leverage among Bengals WRs, as he is the cheapest and projects for the lowest rostership percentage. Boyd has posted five straight double-digit performances on DraftKings and is cash-viable there, but he’s also a great GPP play across the industry.
This is not a great matchup for C.J. Uzomah, who struggles against zone coverage and will likely have to stay in and help block Maxx Crosby. The Bengals fourth WR will likely be Mike Thomas, but I doubt he gets much playing time, as Uzomah will likely be on the field for pass protection purposes.
Josh Jacobs is averaging 23.5 touches per game over his past four and is a locked-in cash play as well for the Saturday slate and Showdown slates. The matchup is merely average — the Bengals rank 13th in DVOA against the run and 19th on passes to RBs — but it’s the volume we’re here for.
Jalen Richard split passing-down work with Jacobs last week and is a nice cash game punt play on DK Showdown slates. He could also pay off as a GPP dart throw on the multi-game slate, as he could see extended action if the Raiders fall behind early.
Richard is expected to appear in fewer than 2% of lineups on the Saturday slate.
Darren Waller is a must-play at TE in cash games on the Saturday slate, though I would fade him in cash on DK Showdown lineups because you want to account for all of the TDs by rostering each team’s starting QB and RB, which doesn’t leave enough salary to also fit Waller. He has an excellent matchup, as the Bengals are ranked 24th in DVOA versus TEs. The ball should funnel his way, as the Bengals have two strong cornerbacks in Chidobe Awuzie (third of 122 CBs in PFF’s coverage grades) and Mike Hilton (21st).
Due to the nature of the small slate, you still have to play Hunter Renfrow and Zay Jones in cash on FanDuel. Renfrow has scored double-digit FanDuel points in eight of his past 10 games and 11-of-17 overall. Jones has caught at least five passes in each of the past five games — he has taken over the No. 2 WR role from Bryan Edwards and promisingly saw eight targets even with Waller back last week.
The Bengals’ biggest weaknesses are the deep ball – they rank 29th in DVOA on deep passes – and TE, so Edwards, DeSean Jackson and Foster Moreau are all in play in GPPs. They each project for a sub-3% roster percentage and offer massive leverage on Waller, Renfrow and Jones. I would not roster Derek Carr without one of those three pass catchers, as it is one of the best ways on the slate to get differentiation with only four available QBs.
I also love the Raiders DST here, as Burrow led the league in sacks taken (51) and was tied for the sixth-most interceptions (14). The Raiders project to be the least-popular of the four DSTs on the Saturday slate. I’m also playing them in cash games on DraftKings, as it not worth sacrificing at the skill positions to pay up for one of the other DSTs at such a high-variance position.
- Cash Plays: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, RB Josh Jacobs, WR Hunter Renfrow, WR Tee Higgins, WR Tyler Boyd, WR Zay Jones, TE Darren Waller, DST Las Vegas Raiders
- GPP Plays: QB Derek Carr, RB Jalen Richard, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Bryan Edwards, WR DeSean Jackson, TE Foster Moreau
NFL DFS Lineups
DraftKings Saturday Slate
- QB Josh Allen $7,900 vs. NE
- RB Joe Mixon $7,100 vs. LV
- RB Josh Jacobs $6,600 at CIN
- WR Tee Higgins $6,200 vs. LV
- WR Tyler Boyd $4,600 vs. LV
- WR Nelson Agholor $3,500 at BUF
- TE Darren Waller $5,700 at CIN
- FLEX Devin Singletary $5,800 vs. NE
- DST Las Vegas Raiders $2,500 at CIN
- CPT RB Joe Mixon $15,600
- QB Joe Burrow $11,000
- QB Derek Carr $9,600
- RB Josh Jacobs $9,000
- RB Jalen Richard $2,400
- RB Samaje Perine $2,000
- CPT QB Josh Allen $19,200
- RB Damien Harris $10,400
- RB Devin Singletary $9,600
- RB Rhamondre Stevenson $5,000
- RB Brandon Bolden $4,600
- TE Jonnu Smith $1,000
FanDuel Saturday Slate
- QB Joe Burrow $7,800 vs. LV
- RB Joe Mixon $8,500 vs. LV
- RB Josh Jacobs $7,200 at CIN
- WR Hunter Renfrow $7,300 at CIN
- WR Tee Higgins $6,900 vs. LV
- WR Zay Jones $5,300 vs. LV
- TE Darren Waller $6,300 at CIN
- FLEX Devin Singletary $6,900 vs. NE
- DST New England Patriots $3,800 at BUF
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