Buffalo Bills (7-2) at Arizona Cardinals (5-4)
These two teams have been pretty similar this year. Both have had dominant offenses, with the Cardinals ranking 1st in schedule adjusted first down rate at +3.55% and the Bills ranking 3rd at +3.09%, but both defenses have struggled mightily, ranking 25th and 28th respectively in schedule adjusted first down rate allowed. Typically, teams with dominant offenses and weak defenses are smart bets going forward because offensive play tends to be much more static week-to-week, while defensive play is more inconsistent.
The Bills have a much better chance of being improved defensively going forward than the Cardinals though, as they have more talent on that side of the ball. These two teams are about the same offensively, but the Bills’ defensive edge gives them a 2.5 point edge in my roster rankings overall. Given that the Cardinals will have minimal fans for this home game, I have this line calculated at Buffalo -1.5, so we’re getting some line value at Buffalo +2.5.
The Cardinals are also in a look ahead spot, playing the Seahawks on a short week in Seattle on Thursday Night Football. Favorites cover at just a 44.0% rate all-time before Thursday Night Football and, making matters worse for the Cardinals, the Bills should be fully focused ahead of their bye. Favorites are just 13-24 ATS over the past thirty seasons before a short week when their opponent will next have an extended rest, which isn’t a big sample size, but it makes sense. I’d like the Bills more if this line creeps up to +3, but the Bills are still worth a bet at +2.5 and the money line is a smart bet as well.
Update: The Bills had two of their top-3 cornerbacks ruled out on Saturday because of COVID. I probably would not have bet them Friday night if I hadn’t known that was going to happen, but that’s the nature of predicting games in 2020. I do still have the Bills as slightly favored to pull the upset though.
Buffalo Bills 34 Arizona Cardinals 33 Upset Pick +125
Pick against the spread: Buffalo +2.5