New Orleans Saints (6-2) at Buffalo Bills (5-3)
The Bills started the season 5-2 on the strength of a league best +14 turnover margin, but turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis and they ranked just 28th in first down rate differential. Last week, they lost 34-21 in New York to the Jets as 3.5 point road favorites, in a game in which they lost the turnover margin by -3. They also had a first down rate differential of -5.54% in that game and still rank 28th in first down rate differential on the season at -3.89%. If we assume turnover neutral football for the Bills in the second half of the season, which you almost always should when evaluating a team given how inconsistent turnover margins are, the Bills will have a lot harder time winning games in the second half of the season.
Despite Buffalo’s big loss, I was still able to lock this line in at -2.5 in favor of the visiting Saints earlier in the week, the same line as the early line last week. You can still get that line in a few places for a higher vig. I have these two teams about 6.5 points apart in my roster rankings, so this line should be at least -3, if not higher. About 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, so the difference between -2.5 and -3/-3.5 is pretty big. The Saints are 6-2, have won 6 straight, rank 6th in first down rate differential, and have one of the more talented rosters in the NFL thanks to a much improved defense. Only about 8% of games are decided by 2 points or less, so the Saints basically need to just win here. They should be able to win this game by at least a field goal. This is a high confidence pick.
New Orleans Saints 27 Buffalo Bills 21
Pick against the spread: New Orleans -2.5