When Tom Brady was the quarterback of the New England Patriots, it was customary for his team to beat up on the Buffalo Bills.
Well, as BetOnline customers know, times have changed. The Pats struggled a bit since Brady moved on to Tampa Bay, and Buffalo has become an NFL stalwart. And so, as it stands, New England has to get by Buffalo if it wants any hope of winning the AFC East title.
It’s not that the Patriots are doing badly; indeed, they are 6–5, both straight up and against the spread, but that’s not good enough to get them out of last place in the division. Other teams are ahead of them in the pecking order to pick up one of the three wildcard births in the conference. So it’s very critical that they pick up a victory at home against Buffalo on Thursday night.
If you have Amazon Prime Video, you’ll be able to see this at 8:15 PM Eastern time from Gillette Stadium. It should be entertaining, if only because there is much bad blood between these two clubs, who have been playing each other since the inception of the American Football League in 1960.
The Bills certainly didn’t look like themselves on Thanksgiving Day, as they have a life-and-death matchup with the Detroit Lions, finally coming away with a 28–25 victory. But what does “themselves” actually mean? Maybe that’s worth finding out.
They looked like such a locomotive early in the season, as they took care of business with extreme prejudice against both the Los Angeles Rams and the Tennessee Titans, scoring 72 points in the process.
But it’s been tough for them with close games, and some of these wins haven’t been easy at all. The Turkey Day game in Detroit is a pretty good example of that. So many people might wonder whether this is the same team that was considered a Super Bowl favored by just about everybody at the start of the campaign.
In the Thursday Night Football odds at BetOnline for this contest, the Bills are favored on the road:
Buffalo Bills -4
New England Patriots +4
Over 44.5 Points -105
Under 44.5 Points -115
Mac Jones had such a good rookie campaign for Bill Belichick‘s team and even made the Pro Bowl. But he’s been slowed down as a sophomore. That’s why it was so encouraging for him to throw for 382 yards on Thanksgiving night, even though it was in the process of a 33–26 New England defeat. One of the things that Belichick likes about Jones is the fact that he can go down the field, and he may have found someone to develop rapport with Davante Parker, who played with AFC east rival Miami last season.
But Belichick knows that Jones isn’t going to be extremely successful throwing deep into the Buffalo secondary because the Bills’ defensive scheme is designed to prevent that kind of explosive play. In fact, you can argue that they are the best in the business at that. Fortunately, the Patriots can pound away with the football, and if you ask Belichick for his honest answer, he probably says that’s what he preferred to do.
New England averages 4.8 yards per carry, and they have a duo that is more than capable in Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. As they played Buffalo and their vaunted defense twice last season, they racked up 371 yards on the ground as a team.
That’s probably the formula here, as New England might want to “shorten” the game, to use it has become an oft-beaten cliché. But you can’t ignore Buffalo’s prowess on the offensive side, which becomes more complicated for New England to solve because Josh Allen not only runs, but he runs like a truck.
At the same time, because of his elbow injury, Allen has not been as sharp as normal over the last three weeks. The loss at home against Minnesota a couple of weeks ago was embarrassing in the sense that mental and physical mistakes caused the Bills to blow a 17-point lead.
No, this team has not looked like a juggernaut over the last five games they played. And what was arguably their best performance over that time, they gave up over 200 yards on the ground to Green Bay. So let’s stop with these illusions of indestructibility on the part of Sean McDermott‘s crew. The Patriots have allowed just 243 rushing yards over the last four games, which is more than commendable.
And they have been beating the number lately, covering six of the last seven. It’s quite possible they can do that again, taking this to the wire or even winning a home game, and what is a desperate situation for them in order to stay in contention both in the division and for one of the three wildcard spots. It will be interesting to see the changes in the betting odds on top football betting sites.
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