Can Buffalo shock New England?

October 28, 2018 10:11 PM

What’s the point distance from top to bottom in the NFL? Monday Night’s matchup featuring the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills (ESPN, 8:15 p.m.) gives you a great current snapshot. 

New England spent most of the week as a 14-point road favorite. Using a standard 3 points for home field advantage, that would suggest the Patriots are 17 points better on a neutral field. 

We ran our estimated “market” Power Ratings on Sunday. At that time New England was a point worse than the Los Angeles Rams. Buffalo rated as the worst team in the NFL because improving rookie quarterback Josh Allen is still sidelined. The Bills graded out about a field goal higher when Allen was healthy. With either Derek Anderson or Nathan Peterman at QB? Ugh. 

It’s helpful for new bettors to know and respect the top-to-bottom scale because it prevents over-reactions to perceived mismatches. “They’re going to kill them” becomes “they’ll win that by at least three touchdowns” to “that favorite can name the score” after a few beers. Though NFL blowouts do happen, they’re far from automatic unless huge turnover differentials or special teams’ touchdowns come into play. 

Among the reasons:

  • Even the worst rosters have NFL-caliber starters
  • Favorites are focused on WINNING, not covering
  • Superior teams can be great at running clock
  • Elite teams can have flat efforts as big favorites

Buffalo was plus 16.5 at Minnesota in Josh Allen’s second start. The Bills won the game 27-6 and covered by more than five touchdowns! Turned out Minnesota wasn’t as elite as the market was thinking at the time, while Allen was a step up at quarterback from early starter Peterman. That, plus poor preparation from Minnesota, and a 3-0 turnover advantage for the big dog helped align the stars for a shocker. 

Can Buffalo shock New England? 

With Allen still unable to play, that seems much less likely. New England’s offense really started clicking after a sluggish start. A few weeks back, we told you that VSiN likes to study points scored and allowed on drives of 60 yards or more. Those are great indicator stats for true quality because you can’t fake your way to skill sets in those areas. Let’s run the Patriots’ game-by-game offensive numbers. You’ll see they found their typical Belichick-Brady form after the debacle in Detroit.

Patriots’ Points on Long Drives

17 vs. Houston

10 at Jacksonville

0 at Detroit

24 vs. Miami

28 vs. Indianapolis

27 vs. Kansas City

24 at Chicago

That’s four straight games at 24 or more. Through seven outings, Buffalo’s per-game numbers are 0-14-14-0-0-0-0. Not ANY points on drives of 60 yards or more for a month! 

It will be up to Buffalo’s defense, and New England’s focus as a huge favorite to determine who covers the tall spread in this week’s Monday nighter.

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