The margin for error is even smaller for the Patriots as they get set for a massive Thursday night showdown against the Bills.
New England’s playoff hopes are still very much alive, but after a Thanksgiving night loss in Minnesota, the 6-5, last-place Pats need to get going. Having to do so against an 8-3 Buffalo team that leads the NFL in point differential, won’t be easy.
That’s especially true given New England’s recent struggles against the Bills. As has been mentioned over and over this week, the Bills haven’t even had to punt in their last two games against Bill Belichick’s team. After stealing a wind-wrecked game in Orchard Park last season in Week 13, the Patriots lost two games in the span of four weeks to the Bills — including a wild-card playoff game — by a combined 42 points.
Despite that, the betting market apparently believes New England can hang with Buffalo, as the point spread dropped 2 points after the Bills opened as 5.5-point favorites.
Here’s what bettors need to know for the Week 13 Bills-Patriots showdown, with betting odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.
(-3.5) Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
When: Thursday, Dec. 1, 8:20 p.m. ET
Where: Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, Mass.
BETTING TRENDS TO KNOW
As is the case with a lot of the Patriots’ longstanding rivals, it’s important to really take any and all trends with the proper amount of Tom Brady context. For example, as Odds Shark points out, the Patriots have won 17 of their last 21 home games against the Bills. Impressive, right? Obviously, a lot of those games not only came with Brady under center for New England but also happened before Josh Allen became one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. As such, the Bills have won four of their last five against the Patriots (home or away), and that only loss was the aforementioned 14-10 exception played in a wind tunnel last season.
BetMGM’s John Ewing had some pretty eye-opening trends Thursday morning, too. Allen is 5-2-1 against the spread against Bill Belichick, which obviously is success matched by very few. In fact, Eli Manning is the only other quarterback with as many ATS wins against Belichick, and he went 5-0 (with a couple of pretty big games mixed in there, too). Ewing also had some good info regarding the total, currently set at 43.5 for Thursday night. The under hit in 20 of 31 primetime games between Weeks 1 and 10 this season. Over Weeks 11 and 12, the over hit in all six games.
PATRIOTS PROP TO CONSIDER
Rhamondre Stevenson OVER 36.5 receiving yards (-110) — It might make sense to load up on Stevenson for Thursday night with Damien Harris already ruled out with an injury. Teams have had some success running on the Bills, so Stevenson’s rushing prop was enticing, but he hasn’t gone over 60 yards on the ground in a month. He has, however, taken on a greater role in the passing game, averaging almost seven receptions per game in his last five games. Without Harris this week, he’s should get almost backfield snaps, and a receiving prop seems slightly safer in case the Bills build an early lead. Stevenson has eclipsed the 36.5 mark four times this season, all since Week 7.
BILLS PROPS TO CONSIDER
Dawson Knox anytime touchdown (+295) — No team in the NFL has allowed more touchdowns to tight ends than the Patriots, who have been victimized eight times this season. It has been more of an issue lately, too. Three of the last five touchdowns the Patriots’ defense has allowed came to tight ends with Tyler Conklin grabbing a couple in the first Jets game and then T.J. Hockenson getting one down at the goal line last week. Knox only has two touchdowns this season, but he does have at least 57 yards receiving in two of his last three games. Allen has only targeted him in the red zone five times, but two of those were turned into touchdowns, and given the Patriots’ struggles to defend tight ends, Buffalo should give it a shot Thursday night.
PICK: Bills -3.5
The Patriots have allowed 20 points in five of 11 games this season. Their record in those five games: 0-5. The Bills, meanwhile, have failed to score at least 20 points in just two of their 11 games and are averaging just under 30 points in their last three games. It’s a long of way of expressing doubt over the Patriots’ ability to slow down the Buffalo offense. The New England defense might be slightly better than it was a year ago, but the fact remains that their best defensive weapon against Buffalo over the last couple of seasons has been the weather. And we still can’t trust the Patriots offense, either. They’ve played six games against teams with a defensive DVOA ranked 17th or better — basically, the top half of the league. They have just seven total offensive touchdowns in those games.