Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: 2016 Week 17 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (7-8) at New York Jets (4-11)

The Jets got blown out by the Patriots in New England 41-3 last week and, if that wasn’t bad enough, they were actually blown out 34-13 the previous week at home for the Dolphins. Believe it or not though, teams actually tend to cover the spread after a blowout loss like that and especially after two blowout losses in a row. Teams are 52-28 ATS since 2002 off of a loss by 35 or more points and teams are also 44-30 ATS since 2002 off of back-to-back losses by 21 or more points. It’s counterintuitive, but teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed in that spot, which leads to them covering the spread more often than not.

I can’t guarantee that the Jets will be overlooked or embarrassed this week, but it certainly makes sense that they would be. They’re also definitely undervalued as 4.5 point home underdogs against a Bills team that isn’t in a great position right now either. In the past week, they’ve fired head coach Rex Ryan and benched quarterback Tyrod Taylor so that he doesn’t get hurt, as his salary is guaranteed for next season if he gets hurt. That means that backup EJ Manuel, who looked lost as a starter two years ago, will get the start and it also means that the Bills are strongly considering moving on from Taylor this off-season, despite two solid seasons at the starter.

The players like interim coach Anthony Lynn, but might not give their best effort given that it’s clear that the priority of the front office is not to win this game. Even if they do give their best effort, they have no business being favored by more than a field goal on the road against anyone with EJ Manuel as their quarterback and the likes of Cordy Glenn, Stephon Gilmore, and Kyle Williams all out with injuries. The Jets are very much undervalued after two bad performances and have a good chance to bounce back and surprise people a little bit this week. This is worth a bet if you’re getting more than a field goal.

Buffalo Bills 17 New York Jets 16

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +4.5

Confidence: Medium

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Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills: 2016 Week 16 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (9-5) at Buffalo Bills (7-7)

These two teams finish their regular seasons in pretty much completely opposite fashions next week. While the Bills get an easy road game in New York against the lowly Jets, the Dolphins have to go home and host the New England Patriots. Teams are 73-58 ATS since 2012 before being 4.5+ point road favorites, which the Bills should be next week, and 43-93 ATS over that time period before being 4.5+ point home underdogs, which the Dolphins should be next week. In addition, the Dolphins are in a much worse injury situation.

The absence of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is obvious, even if backup Matt Moore is one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league, but they’re also without top cornerback Byron Maxwell, who has really been playing well in recent weeks. The Bills will be without left tackle Cordy Glenn, but they are definitely in the better injury situation overall. Even before injuries are taken into account, the Bills have played slightly better than the Dolphins this season, entering 15th in first down rate differential, as opposed to 20th for the Dolphins.

When this line opened at 3.5, I was hoping it would eventually come down to 3 by gametime. Instead, the opposite happened, as the line has since jumped to 4.5. I would have put money on the Bills as 3 point home favorites, but I’m not nearly as confident in them as 4.5 point home favorites, especially given that about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer. The Bills could easily outplay the Dolphins all game, but allow a late backdoor cover to give the Dolphins the cover. I’m still taking Buffalo, but it’s a low confidence pick.

Buffalo Bills 23 Miami Dolphins 17

Pick against the spread: Buffalo -4.5

Confidence: Low

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Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills: 2016 Week 15 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (0-13) at Buffalo Bills (6-7)

Typically, betting on winless teams is a good idea, as teams that are 0-8 or worse are 34-21 ATS since 1989. On top of that, road underdogs on a 7+ game losing streak are 56-30 since 1989. However, no one seems to have told that to the Browns, who have failed to cover in 7 straight games and are now 0-13. The Browns have lost 6 of those 7 games by 13 or more points and their average margin of defeat over those 7 games has been 13.00 points per game. The Bills are an average team at best (22nd in first down rate differential) and favored by 10 points here, so we’re not getting any line value with them, but it’s still very hard to bet on the Browns this week, so Buffalo is the pick in pick ‘em leagues.

Buffalo Bills 24 Cleveland Browns 13

Pick against the spread: Buffalo -10

Confidence: None

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Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Buffalo Bills (6-6)

The Steelers got a big home win last week against the New York Giants, but this could be a letdown game for them in Buffalo. The Steelers are just 10-22 ATS as non-divisional road favorites in the Mike Tomlin era (since 2007) and have already fallen flat this season in Philadelphia and Miami in that spot. In fact, the Steelers have just 3 road wins this season and two of them came against the Browns and the Colts without Andrew Luck. We’re getting good line value with the Bills as field goal home underdogs (I would have made it an even line), so the Bills are worth a bet if you can get them at that number. The money line is a good bet in either scenario though.

Buffalo Bills 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 20 Upset Pick +135

Pick against the Spread: Buffalo +3

Confidence: Medium

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Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders: 2016 Week 13 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (6-5) at Oakland Raiders (9-2)

This line at 3 in favor of the hometown Oakland Raiders seems to be confusing a lot of people, as the public is all over the favorite. That’s understandable, as the Bills are 6-5 and the Raiders are 9-2, but the Raiders have won 7 of their 9 games by a touchdown or less and have just 4 wins in regulation all season by more than a field goal. In fact, they enter this game 18th in first down rate differential, just two spots ahead of the Bills who rank 20th in that metric. With that in mind, I’m actually going to fade the public and take the points here. Not only do I love fading the public, as they always lose money in the long run, I also love betting against favorites that have to play again in a few days on Thursday Night Football, as favorites are 56-83 ATS in that spot since 2008. The Raiders could get caught looking past the Bills with a matchup with division rival Kansas City right around the corner. I wish we were getting more points and I wouldn’t recommend betting any money on it, but the Bills are the pick in pick ‘em leagues.

Oakland Raiders 19 Buffalo Bills 17

Pick against the spread: Buffalo +3

Confidence: None

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Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills: 2016 Week 12 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8) at Buffalo Bills (5-5)

Last week, I took the Jaguars as 6.5 point underdogs in Detroit for a big play and it was one of the most frustrating losses I can remember. Despite scoring on both a punt return and an interception return, the Lions led by only 4 with about 2 and a half minutes left in the game, facing 4th and 3 at midfield. The Jaguars were set to get the ball back and, even if they didn’t score on the following drive, the cover would remain intact with a 4 point Detroit win. Instead, a Jacksonville defender jumped offsides on a hard count on 4th and 3, giving Detroit another set of downs and allowing them to eventually kick a field goal to go up by 7 and get the front door cover.

Ironically, if the Lions had gotten one more first down, they would have been able to run the clock out and would have left with a 4 point victory and a Jacksonville cover, but the Jaguars’ stout run defense didn’t let that happen. Despite holding the Lions to just 14 first downs and an average of less than a yard per carry, Jacksonville ended up not only losing, but failing to cover as 6.5 point underdogs as well. It wouldn’t have been so bad if this game wasn’t also going on at the same time as Minnesota/Arizona, in which my Arizona bet failed because the Vikings had not one, not two return touchdowns of 100+ yards in a 30-24 win, the first team to have two return touchdowns of 100+ yards in the same game in 50 years. Two games in the 1 PM time slot, four return touchdowns against me, two brutal losses.

The one benefit of Jacksonville losing is we get good value with them again this week. I’m not going to let what happened last week deter me from taking them again this week, as last week’s game was an obvious case of right analysis, but wrong result. The Jaguars have one of the worst records in the league at 2-8, but are far from one of the worst teams in the league. They’ve just been killed by a -15 turnover margin. Fortunately for them, turnover margins are very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. For that reason, I love to bet on teams that have poor turnover margins, as they tend to be undervalued. If the Jaguars play turnover neutral football going forward, which isn’t crazy considering how inconsistent turnover margins are, that’s going to have a noticeable effect on the scoreboard.

Even despite their issues with turnovers, just 3 of their 8 losses have come by more than a touchdown this season, relevant because this line is at 7.5 in favor of Buffalo. The Bills are a middling team at best, so this line is way too high. The Bills are expected to get Sammy Watkins back from injury this week, but all indications are that he’s going to play a very limited role, so I’m not too worried about him. In terms of first down rate differential, the Jaguars actually rank higher than the Bills, entering this game 9th in that metric, while Bills enter in 21st. You wouldn’t know it from their record, but they have 15 more first downs than their opponents on the season.

Another good thing about Jacksonville’s loss in Detroit last week is it puts them in a good spot this week. Teams are 138-104 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 110-71 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 232-246 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.80 points per game, as opposed to 330-462 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.01 points per game. Jacksonville is my Pick of the Week. Hopefully I’ll have better luck this time around.

Buffalo Bills 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 17

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +7.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

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Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (4-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1)

This line has shifted from 4.5 in favor of the Bengals on the early line last week to 3 in the past week, a huge shift considering about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer and about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Typically, I like to fade significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be overreactions to a single week, but we’re not really getting line value with the Bengals at 3 either. I have these two teams more or less even. In fact, they’re just one spot apart in terms of first down rate differential, Cincinnati entering in 20th and Buffalo entering in 21st. This line suggests these two teams are even, so this line is exactly where it should be. Neither side is really in a better spot than the other one either. I’m taking the Bengals because the public is on Buffalo and the public always loses money in the long run, but this is a pure public fade and a pick ‘em pool pick only. I wouldn’t touch this game. A push seems likely.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 Buffalo Bills 20

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -3

Confidence: None

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