Thursday Night Football best bets: Bills-Patriots
The Buffalo Bills go into Week 13 looking up at another team on the Super Bowl LVII odds board for the first time this season, as the Kansas City Chiefs leapfrogged them coming out of last week’s action. The New England Patriots hope to deal the Bills and injured quarterback Josh Allen another blow in this AFC East Thursday Night Football showdown.
Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night. Go to VSiN.com for Betting Splits and live odds.
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Josh Allen is clearly not healthy going into a huge game against arguably the best defense in the NFL. The Bills QB is playing through it, but he’s got a 4/3 TD/INT ratio and a 63.3% completion rate in the last three games. More importantly, he’s down to 6.96 yards per attempt, despite sitting at 7.8 yards per attempt for the season. The downfield threat just isn’t quite there at present and the Patriots have the top defense by Dropback EPA and EPA/play.
Mix a hurting quarterback with an elite defense and that’s why you get a line move down from +5.5 to +4. There is a ton of negative sentiment surrounding the Bills based on Allen’s injury and their mediocre performances of late. The question is whether the Patriots' offense can hold up its end of the bargain to score enough points (if required) to cover the spread. New England has only surpassed 100 rushing yards once in the last six games and just broke a string of four straight games with under 200 passing yards.
The UNDER is the better way to look in this game. The Bills' defense has struggled a bit lately, but the Lions, Browns, and Vikings all have above-average offenses. The Patriots do not, as they rank 26th in EPA/play and 24th in Success Rate. This should be a tightly-played affair with limited explosive play potential.
Pick: UNDER 43.5
Josh Appelbaum: The Bills have a better record and have dominated the Patriots in their last two head-to-head matchups. So, it’s no surprise that the public is rushing to the window to lay the points with Josh Allen and Buffalo on Thursday Night. What is a surprise is the line movement. Despite 76% of bets taking Buffalo, the Bills have fallen all the way from -5.5 to -3.5. Why would the oddsmakers drop the line to make it easier for the public to cover when they’re already hammering Buffalo to begin with? Because smart money has hammered the Patriots plus the points, triggering massive steam and reverse line movement in their favor. The Pats match several profitable betting systems. Dogs who failed to cover the previous week are 41-27 ATS (60%) this season. Divisional dogs are 33-20 ATS (62%). Sweet spot dogs +3.5 or more are 66-39 ATS (63%). The Patriots are contrarian in a primetime dog, have sharp line movement, and match several of my top systems. Plus, there are rumors of an illness swirling in the Bills' locker room, and Buffalo will also be without Von Miller. I’ll take the points.
Pick: Patriots +3.5
Danny Burke: Despite escaping with several victories, Josh Allen has not looked the same these past few games. It’s clear that he is nursing an injury on his throwing arm. And such as it was on display on Thanksgiving against the Lions, when he was failing to create momentum in the air, he resorted to doing it on the ground. In that game in the Motor City, Allen ended with 78 rushing yards on 10 carries.
This season, Allen is averaging 51 rushing yards on 7.4 carries per game, and he will be facing a Patriots defense that is surrendering 24.5 rushing yards on average to opposing quarterbacks. While that may not seem like a lot, when you consider the mobile QBs New England has faced and what those guys have done -- you will realize that they are susceptible to giving up yardage. Lamar Jackson had 11 carries for 107 rushing yards and Justin Fields accumulated 82 rushing yards off of 14 carries against Bill Belichick’s defense. In a tightly played, familiar division battle, the Patriots defense will be ready to go. And why should you expect anything different regardless? New England’s secondary has been rock-solid all year. The Patriots rank third against the pass, according to DVOA, and rank first in opponent completion percentage (58.5%).
So if Allen already is having throwing issues and is going against one of the better secondaries in the league, how will he create offense? It will be with his feet. I played over 41.5 rushing yards for Allen, a mark he has eclipsed in 8 of 11 games thus far.
Pick: Josh Allen Over 41.5 Rushing Yards (-114)