Buffalo Bills (8-3) at New England Patriots (6-5)
Throughout the 2021 season and through the first two games of this season, when the Bills won, they always won big, winning 14 straight games by 12 points or more, with an average margin of victory of 23.4 points per game, while 6 of their 7 losses over that time frame came by 7 points or fewer. However, since week 3, the Bills have played much closer games, with five of six wins coming by 10 points or fewer. They’ve also lost three games over that time frame, though all three came by three points or fewer and could have easily gone the other way.
The biggest reason why the Bills haven’t been blowing opponents as much lately is because they haven’t been at full strength. This week, they’ll have to play without top edge defender Von Miller for the first time this season, which a huge loss and an absence that is drawing a lot of attention in this game, but, other than that, the Bills are actually going to be a lot healthier this week than they’ve been in recent weeks, which should offset Miller’s absence.
On defense, their other talented edge defender Greg Rousseau is set to return from a 3-game absence and stud linebacker Tremaine Edmunds will return from a 2-game absence, while their offense will welcome back center Mitch Morse from a 1-game absence. The Bills also got top cornerback Tre’Davious White back for the first time all season last week and should get much more of a contribution from him in his second game back this week and they will still have talented safety Jordan Poyer healthy, after he missed four games earlier this season.
The Bills aren’t at full strength, missing Miller and continuing to be without their other talented safety Jordan Poyer and their talented starting left tackle Dion Dawkins, but, even with all of their injuries thus far this season, the Bills still rank first in the league in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 9.5 points above average and, in their current state, my roster rankings have the Bills about 9.5 points above average as well.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are much more of a middling team, playing at a high level on defense, but struggling on offense, which is the more predictive side of the ball, and, because of that, we’re getting a little bit of line value with the Bills, even as favorites of more than a field goal on the road in New England. I would need this line to drop all the way down to a field goal for the Bills to be worth betting, as 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal and a Buffalo win by exactly a field goal is a strong possibility, but my calculated line is Buffalo -6, so they’re still the right side for pick ‘em purposes at -3.5.
Buffalo Bills 26 New England Patriots 20
Pick against the spread: Buffalo -3.5