Which team will be able to handle the rough conditions in Orchard Park, NY tonight? That may be as pertinent a handicapping question as any as the New England Patriots. currently holding the lead in the AFC East with their 8-4 record (also ATS) take on the homestanding Buffalo Bills (7-4 SU & ATS).
BetOnline customers should be advised that although freezing cold might not be anticipated, there could be some snow showers, not to mention winds that could get up to 30 miles per hour.
Both of these teams have the capability of running with the ball, and that might be the predominant way of travel.But who does a better job at curtailing the attempts on the part of opponents to run the football? Another good question.
The Bills have gotten hit on the blind side by this division tile bid on the part of the Patriots, who were thought to be going through a transitional period in the process of trying to find a successor to Tom Brady. As it turned out, Cam Newton was very little help in that area.
But New England retooled on defense, bringing back some old faces (like Kyle Van Noy) and adding new ones, like Matt Judon, who is reinforcing his reputation as a premier pass rusher. As a result, and under the guidance of Bill Belichick, who has always been known as a great defensive mind, the Pats now lead the NFL in scoring defense (15.8 ppg). And during their current six-game winning streak, they have allowed just 63 points.
The Bills have hit a few dead spots, but they are still formidable, and then some. When you take a "net" figure in the drive stats (yards gained and allowed per drive), they are a clear #1. And the same goes for points per drive as well.
So make no mistake about it - between their ability and the weather conditions, this will be a new challenge for the Pats and rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
In the Monday Night Football lines as they are posted at BetOnline, the Bills are the favorites:
Buffalo Bills -3 (-104)
New England Patriots +3 (-116)
Over 39.5 points -115
Under 39.5 points -105
The line suggests that these two teams, on a neutral field, would be about equal. On defense, that might be the case at the moment, as they are 1-2 (in either order) when it comes to things like points allowed, yards per play allowed, etc.
But there are some differences we'd like to point to.
One of them involves how the Bills might be able to take the Pats out of their preferred offensive game plan, which involves playing some smashmouth and pounding the ball forward. Buffalo allows just 3.9 yards per carry, and in a key stats called "Adjusted Line Yards," which is calculated at the respected analytics site Football Outsiders, they have the third best defensive line in the league.
And they are kind of rough on opposing quarterbacks as well. They make it difficult to complete passes, allowing only 57.6%, which is best in the NFL and marvelous in this day and age. And the other team's completions have gone for an average of just 9.3 yards, which is right up near the top.
Jones throws "behind the sticks" 55% of the time, and only four of the QB's who have started more than one game have done that. When you have Buffalo covering the way they do, even without top corner Tre White, who's injured, and in the wind, this is going to be a chore.
We'll offer up the opinion that the rookie is going to have more issues than Josh Allen when it comes to dealing with the conditions.
We don't want to use the word "soft," but New England is more permissive at the point of attack on its defensive line when it comes to dealing with the run, allowing 4.5 yards per carry, and when it comes to that "Adjusted Line Yards" stat, they rank just 19th. So maybe the Bills get the best of it when it comes to the ground forces.
This total has understandably dipped, and we're not getting too involved with it. But, as the best opponent the Pats have faced in a while, this may be a reasonable number on Buffalo, so we'll lay it.
Don't forget that if you are looking for more angles to wager on, you have Prop Builder available..... And at BetOnline, you've also got Odds Boosters, which offer greatly enhanced payouts on pre-selected parlays, every day of the week!