Atlanta Falcons (2-9) at Buffalo Bills (4-7)
The Falcons came into last week on a 4 game losing streak, having lost those last 4 by a combined 74 points. However, they were able to play the Saints very close at home in Atlanta in a 17-13 loss. Some people might believe that means they’ll be better going forward. I think it’s the opposite. I think this was a team that was not used to losing like this, so they quit on the season, with the exception of a huge home game against divisional rival New Orleans, which was essentially their Super Bowl. Now that they lost that, they will probably be pretty flat for the rest of the season, especially for a team like Buffalo. Given that, they could be in a lot of trouble on the road here, where they have yet to cover thus far this season, especially since they have a bigger game in Green Bay next week. If Rodgers returns, they could be double digit underdogs and teams are 34-69 ATS since 2010 before being double digit underdogs.
The Falcons’ offense is actually pretty good, moving the chains at a 77% rate, as Matt Ryan is doing a very good job this season despite not having any help offensively. However, their defense might be the worst in the entire NFL, allowing opponents to move the chains at an 82% rate. That differential is 26th in the NFL. The Bills, meanwhile, rank 22nd in the NFL, moving the chains at a 69% rate, as opposed to 71% for their opponents. They’re as healthy as they’ve been all season right now. Stephon Gilmore, Jairus Byrd, and EJ Manuel have all returned, while CJ Spiller could be more explosive after an extra week to rest his ankle, off of the bye. Steve Johnson and Robert Woods are also expected back this week. There’s no reason they should only be favored by 3.5 points here. That suggests they are barely better than the Falcons, which isn’t true.
The Bills have also been very good at home this season, beating the Ravens and the Panthers, almost beating the Bengals, Chiefs, and Patriots, and blowing out the Jets, 5 teams that are all currently in the playoff race and a combined 42-24 on the season. The Falcons are by far the easiest team they’ve faced at home this season and they could easily blow them out like they did to the Jets. The only concern is this game is up the road a little bit in Toronto, so it’s not a true home game. It’ll still be mostly Buffalo fans, but they haven’t had a ton of success in Toronto in the past so playing there could conceivably screw with their good home mojo. I’m still pretty confident in them though.
Buffalo Bills 27 Atlanta Falcons 17
Pick against spread: Buffalo -3.5