Breakdowns

Monday Night Football Preview: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Monday Night Football Preview

Here’s a preview of Monday night’s matchup between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, courtesy of STAT Stack:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (8-4) AT BUFFALO BILLS (7-4), 8:15ET

Line: Bills -3, Total: 41

ONE THING THAT EVERY FAN NEEDS TO KNOW

Beasts in the East

Monday Night Football this week features a potential Game of the Year nominee, featuring the best two teams in the NFL in terms of point differential entering Week 13. New England leads the NFL, having outscored their opponents by 146 points this season; Buffalo is second with a +144 differential. Arizona is third at +108, which is 36 points behind the Bills, and no other NFL team has a differential of +100 or higher. Both teams are led by their defenses; the Bills have allowed a league-low 182 points, while the Patriots rank second at 190 points allowed (New England has played one more game than Buffalo). The only other team that has yet to allow 200 points this season is Denver (196).

Their offenses are no slouches either; New England’s 336 points scored rank fourth, while Buffalo is right behind them with 326 points scored, ranking fifth. Both teams are unsurprisingly very strong in turnover differential. With a +4 mark against Tennessee last week, New England moved up to second in the NFL at +10, while Buffalo is now tied for third with Green Bay at +9; Indianapolis leads the NFL at +12. The Patriots have won the turnover battle in each game during their current six-game winning streak, posting a +13 mark (17 takeaways, 4 giveaways) combined over those contests. They are 7-0 this season when they win the turnover battle and 1-4 when they lose it or tie.

Buffalo had been the NFL’s leader in turnover differential for much of the season until a four-turnover (-4) performance against the Colts in Week 11. The Bills have struggled with ball security over the past four weeks, turning it over multiple times in each of their past four with 11 total giveaways. Buffalo is 6-0 when it wins the turnover battle this season and 1-4 otherwise. Taking care of the football will be one of the big keys in this game, especially since weather is expected to be a major factor: winds are expected to gust between 20-30mph, temperatures will be in the 20’s and there’s a chance of snow. In other words, it will be a typical December day in Buffalo, NY.

TRENDS THAT EVERY SPORTS BETTOR NEEDS TO KNOW

Backing Belichick

After missing the playoffs in his first season without Tom Brady in a Patriots uniform in 20 years, many questioned whether Bill Belichick could bring this team back without the Hall of Fame signal-caller. Even Vegas agreed that Brady seemed to be the key: prior to the start of the 2021 season, Belichick’s against-the-spread-record with Brady as his starting QB was 189-128-7 (60%), according to ESPN. Without him, including his time in Cleveland, he went 67-65-3 (51%), including a 7-9 ATS season in 2020. It seemed as if that was destined to continue, with the Patriots starting the season 2-4 ATS and dropping Belichick’s Patriots to 7-12 ATS over their previous 19 games. But that’s when the losing stopped; not only have the Pats won six straight games, but they’ve also covered in all six. They’ve been covering easily, too: they’ve covered each game by at least six points and have covered them by an average of 19.7 points per game. Not only are the Patriots winning, but they are covering the spread by nearly 20 points since October 24. Good teams win, great teams cover, and excellent teams blow out the spread.

On the other side, Buffalo has hit a bit of a rough patch after one of the more dominating spread runs that we’ve seen in recent memory. From Week 9 of last season through Week 5 of this season (not including playoffs), the Bills went 12-1 ATS, including an eight-game cover streak. Since then, however, they’ve gone 2-3-1 ATS, though they have covered in two of their past three. As a home favorite, the Bills are 8-3-1 ATS in their past 12 such games. They are also 4-0-1 ATS in their last five against divisional opponents and haven’t lost straight-up against an AFC East opponent in their past nine (9-0).

According to Action Network, the bets (54%) and money (56%) are slightly leaning towards the Patriots and that includes sharp action. The line opened at the all-important number of Bills -3, then slid under that threshold to Bills -2.5, and has moved back to Bills -3. As far as the Total, the weather has this line on the MOVE. The Over/Under opened at 45 but reports of incredibly high winds and possible snow have pushed it all the way down to 41. Currently, 66% of the tickets are on the Over, but sharp action and money (71%) are chasing the Under.

ANALYTICAL ANALYSIS THAT EVERY SPORTS NERD NEEDS TO KNOW

Take That, STAT Factor!

Prior to Buffalo’s game against the Saints on Thanksgiving, we wrote extensively about Josh Allen’s recent struggles with regard to interceptions. Here’s a quick refresher: “After throwing three interceptions in his first seven games this season with no multiple-interception games, Allen has had two games with multiple INTs (both losses). The Bills are 1-10 when Allen throws multiple picks in a game since entering the league in 2018. This is the first time Allen has had multiple 2+ interception games in a three-game span since his rookie season when he threw 12 INTs in 11 starts.”

You may recall that Buffalo rolled over the Saints rather easily, 31-6. You may not remember that Allen threw two more interceptions in the game, improving Buffalo’s record to 2-10 when he throws multiple picks. It’s the first time he’s thrown multiple interceptions in back-to-back games since Weeks 12 and 13 of his rookie season in 2018. The seven INTs that he’s thrown over the past four games are the most he’s ever had in a four-game span. He’s also thrown at least one interception in four straight games for the first time in his career.

This week he’ll battle a Patriots’ defense that is tied for the league-lead with 19 interceptions (with Dallas). Cornerback J.C. Jackson is second in the NFL with seven INTs (Dallas’ Trevon Diggs has 9), but safeties Adrian Phillips (4) and Kyle Dugger (3) make New England the only team in the NFL with three players who each have 3+ interceptions this season. Add in the prospect of strong winds and it makes for a tough recipe for the Bills’ fourth-year franchise quarterback. Yes, he proved last week that he can throw multiple picks and still win. But he likely doesn’t want to test that again on Monday.

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