Now that Week 12 of the NFL regular season is behind us, let’s try to start Week 13 off on a winning track with the big “Thursday Night Football” matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots.
Patriots +3.5 (-110)
Both teams enter this primetime game on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Patriots fell short on Thanksgiving night against the Minnesota Vikings on the road 33-26. Meanwhile, the Bills held off a feisty Detroit Lions team, 28-25, on Turkey Day. Nonetheless, these teams are divisional rivals and both jockeying for playoff position. There is no doubt Gillette Stadium will have playoff intensity for a primetime game on “Thursday Night Football.” Pats quarterback Mac Jones has looked good over the last few weeks, compiling over 600 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. With Jones’ improved play and confidence coupled with the Patriots’ elite defense, I’m betting on a close game at home.
Over 43.5 (-110)
My prediction for the style of play in this game is we will see both teams take calculated shots downfield consistently throughout the night. Obviously, from a Buffalo perspective, they are going to load the box to shut down Rhamondre Stevenson and dare Jones to beat them over the top. Both of those tasks are easier said than done. I like Stevenson to control the tempo of the game and give the Patriots the edge in time of possession, but Jones also can thrive with his minimal opportunities to take the top off the defense with big plays through the air. On the flip side, the Bills are one of the toughest teams in the NFL to defend because of QB Josh Allen. Last week against the Vikings, wide receiver Justin Jefferson exposed the New England secondary, and I imagine Allen and his top target Stefon Diggs are licking their chops because of it. It’s been windy in New England, but the wind is expected to dissipate a bit by game time. I’m betting the over 43.5 total points.
Rhamondre Stevenson anytime touchdown (-120)
My final bet is on Stevenson, a key player in this game. If the Patriots have any chance at covering the spread or winning this game outright, Stevenson must have a big night. He can control the clock for the Pats and keep the formidable Bills offense on the sidelines. His physical run style also can provide the Patriots an advantage late in the game by wearing down the defense and taking some pressure off Jones to be the hero. Stevenson has put up at least 110 yards or a score in six of his last seven games. He’s also improved immensely as a pass catcher out of the backfield, on the big stage of TNF, I’m betting on him to score a touchdown.