In the same weekend that the New England Patriots were officially eliminated from the NFL playoffs, the Buffalo Bills clinched the AFC East.
The times, they are a-changin’.
It’s only fitting the two longtime rivals square off next Monday night in Foxboro. Buffalo opened as a consensus 6.5-point road favorite with a point total of 45. Some sportsbooks have already moved the Bills to -7.
That spread makes sense because these two teams are clearly moving in opposite directions. But it’s still somewhat strange on the surface to see New England getting that many points against Buffalo, isn’t it?
“This year at this time, no it’s not,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk management Ed Salmons told NESN. “We’ve been there already. The Ravens were -7 on a Sunday night game that the Patriots won. Buffalo is playing so well right now that it’s not strange anymore. You watch Cam Newton play and you just wonder what the Patriots are doing. I don’t see any future in Cam there. We’re way past that.”
NESN.com’s Doug Kyed wrote about the possibility of Pats head coach Bill Belichick starting Jarrett Stidham at quarterback down the stretch.
“We can evaluate what the opportunities are,” Belichick told reporters. “We’re still gonna prepare and try to play as well as we can on Monday night. We’ll see how that all shakes out. It could be a possibility in certain situations.”
One Vegas bookmaker told NESN.com there’s zero difference between Newton and Stidham and that the point spread wouldn’t change. If anything, the total might kick up a point or two because Stidham can actually throw the ball down the field with accuracy — relatively speaking, of course.
It’s been a very, very long time since the best quarterback in this matchup donned a Bills jersey. After almost two decades of dominance from Tom Brady, Bills phenom Josh Allen is now the dangerous one. Allen’s year-to-year growth has transformed Buffalo from pretenders to contenders.
“It’s ridiculous how good he is,” Salmons said. “It’s so funny because when he was drafted there were so many people that came out and said ‘he stinks’ or ‘he’s terrible.’ And that’s when he was a rookie. I thought he played fine. Last year, he got them to the playoffs. This year his growth is just off the charts. Look how much his passing accuracy has improved. His running ability is ridiculous. Right now, he’s a top-three quarterback in the league.”