Buffalo Bills (6-9) at New England Patriots (11-4)
I’m torn on this. On one hand, New England hasn’t been doing a lot of winning pretty this season. Of their 11 wins, only 4 have come by more than a touchdown and one of those, a 27-17 win over Miami, was a lot closer than the final score would suggest. On top of that, just 5 of the Patriots’ wins have come by more than a field goal as they have a ridiculous 6 wins by a touchdown or less. Considering this line is 9 points, that matters. Even last week when the Patriots beat the Ravens 41-7, they only had 20 points before garbage time and two return touchdowns. The first down battle (21 to 19 New England) was much closer than the final score.
Because of this, the Patriots only rank 10th in the NFL in rate of moving the chains differential. They move the chains at a 74.11 rate, as opposed to 71.03% for their opponents, a differential of 3.08%. The Bills, meanwhile, come in 18th, moving the chains at a 66.03% rate, as opposed to 66.88% for their opponents, a differential of -0.85%. That suggests this line should be closer to 7, rather than 9. The Patriots have also had issues covering large spreads like this recently, going 8-16 ATS as 7.5+ point favorites since 2010.
However, on the other hand, the Bills are in a terrible spot on the road coming off of a blowout win as divisional home underdogs. Teams are 28-55 ATS since 1989 on the road off of a 10+ point home win as divisional underdogs. It makes sense, as teams tend to have hangover effects off of that type of big win, which can hurt their focus. At the end of the day, I’m taking the Bills and fading the public, but I’m not confident. I’ll just hope for a touchdown game.
New England Patriots 24 Buffalo Bills 17
Pick against spread: Buffalo +9