The New England Patriots can take a major step toward clinching an eighth straight AFC East title with a win Sunday when they visit the Buffalo Bills as 6 1/2-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

With a 6-1 straight-up record, New England holds a two-game lead over Buffalo in the division standings going into Sunday afternoon’s Patriots vs. Bills betting matchup at New Era Field.

The Patriots have dominated in recent visits to Buffalo, winning 11 of 12 SU and covering in nine of those contests dating back to 2004. However, New England must contend with a revitalized Bills squad that sports one of the NFL’s best defenses, and handed the Patriots a 16-0 loss in Foxboro, Mass., back in Week 4.

That win came amid Buffalo’s recent four-game SU win streak, during which they surrendered just 13.25 points per game and posted outright victories as betting underdogs against both the Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals.

Buffalo’s surge came to an end last weekend with a disappointing 28-25 loss as 2 1/2-point road chalk in Miami, blowing a typically safe 17-6 third-quarter lead over the Dolphins.

That loss dropped the Bills to 4-3 on the season, and leaves them in a precarious position ahead of a tough stretch of games that includes road games against the Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders, following this weekend’s clash with the Patriots.

But Buffalo remains a solid bet on home turf, winning six of seven, both SU and against the spread. The Bills also have paid out at the sportsbooks in three of their past four when pegged as home underdogs of six-or-more points, including a 34-31 win over New England five years ago.

While the Bills have heated up, the Patriots have caught fire. New England is undefeated in three outings since that shutout loss to Buffalo, covering as heavy betting chalk in crushing wins over the Cleveland Browns, Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tom Brady threw for over 1,000 yards with eight scores in those wins, lifting him to a +150 favorite to claim his third career NFL MVP award. And the Patriots’ defense has held opponents to 17-or-fewer points in each of the last five games, strengthening New England’s perch as +275 Super Bowl favorites.

New England also has avoided a season sweep at the hands of a divisional foe for 15 years, going 7-0 SU when faced with the prospect, and has scored at least 31 points per game in five of its past six visits to Buffalo.

Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images