The 2-4 New England Patriots are on the road to the 5-2 Buffalo Bills in the NFL on Sunday (1pm ET; TV: Live on CBS).
The Bills are coming off a victory in which they were able to squeak by the lowly New York Jets. They were only able to put up 18 points against a Jets team that gives up on average 29.0 points per game. The Bills were unable to find the end zone and had to settle for six field goals. If they would have been able to punch just one of those in then the Bills’ bettors would have had a much better day.
This is rather concerning for an offense that has looked fairly strong prior to last week. The Bills looked just to be going through the motions in a game they were double-digit favorites at the American oddsmakers’ sites. Before last week the Bills were averaging 26 points per game through their first six games.
The Patriots are coming off a disappointing loss to the Niners in a game they were only able to muster six points. They lost at home 33-6, which was the worst home loss in Bill Belichick’s career.
Cam Newton was woeful on the day going 9 for 15 for 98 yards and three interceptions. Newton is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league so far this season with a 71.7 rating and was benched last week. Only the Jets’ Sam Darnold and the Broncos’ Drew Lock have worse ratings this season. He is also tied for second in the NFL with seven interceptions. Newton has been bad to say the least and does not seem to be improving despite a healthy offensive line and a full week of practice to prepare last week.
Patriots Will Run the Ball with Success
Expect the Patriots to look to establish the ground game and control the clock. They will not be able to win a shootout against the Bills. The Patriots are ranked 29th in the NFL in average points per game (19.2) and the Bills are ranked 20th in average points per game (24.9). The Patriots will not be able to keep up on offense if this game turns into a track meet.
One of the bigger mismatches in the game comes in the trenches. The Patriots have been able to run the ball with success so far this season. They rank 4th in the league in average rushing yards per game with 155.0. They will need to keep Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense on the sidelines if they want to keep this game close. The Bills defense hasn’t been nearly as successful at defending the run. They give up an average of 126.7 yards per game on the ground. I expect Belichick and the Patriots to exploit this weakness after a week of game planning. Quarterback Cam Newton will need to have a solid game on the ground to make up for his deficiencies through the air. He leads the team in rushing attempts, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. If the Patriots want to stay in the game they will have to get Newton and the rushing attack going.
Defense Wins Championships
The Patriots defense has been able to contain the pass and have helped them stay competitive in most games this season. Their secondary is one of the strongest units on the team, lead by veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Three of the top five leaders in tackles come from the secondary. They also have all of the interceptions on the season. The secondary will need to play a strong game if they want to keep it close.
They rank 11th in average passing yards allowed per game (228.2) and will look to combat a strong Bills’ passing attack come Sunday. Josh Allen and the Bills passing game ranks 6th in the NFL and averages 279.7 yards per game. The addition of Stefon Diggs has helped stretch the field and has added a deep threat element that they have been missing for years. This emergence has allowed slot guys like Cole Beasley and John Brown to thrive. Allen ranks 4th in the NFL with 2,018 passing yards and is tied for 4th with Patrick Mahomes with 16 touchdown passes. This is the strongest unit on the Bills, which will make for a good matchup against the strong Patriots secondary. Whoever wins this battle will likely win the game, but with ominous weather in Buffalo looming it will be difficult to move the ball through the air.
Our New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict for this Preview
USAbetting is going to be playing the under in this divisional matchup at 41 total points. I think the Patriots offense will likely struggle some and try to win the game on the ground. They will look to control the clock and keep the Bills’ more explosive offense on the sideline. I also think the Patriots’ strong secondary will be able to slow down Allen enough to make this lower scoring. The current weather report is quite ominous as well, which lends to a sloppy and lower scoring game. Wind gusts of 45-50 mph and driving rain are anticipated.
I see this being a win and likely a cover for the Bills (currently at -3.5pts with the sportsbooks), but I ultimately felt more comfortable taking the under in this divisional rivalry. I see this being a 20-13 victory for Buffalo, which would also cover the spread.
One trend to know that is in favor of the Patriots is their success against Buffalo for nearly two decades. Granted this is a completely different team without Brady, but the Patriots are 33-3 straight up against the Bills in the last 33 games. This is the first time the Bills have been favored against the Patriots since 2003.
As the conclusion to our Patriots vs Bills predictions, this is USAbetting’s pick for this NFL matchup preview: