Winners of four in a row and seven of their last eight, the Buffalo Bills clinched their first AFC East title in 25 years when they walloped the Denver Broncos, 48-19, on Sunday. This week they visit the New England Patriots, the team that has won the last 11 AFC East titles but looks headed for a rebuild now.
The Patriots had hung around the edge of the playoff race, sitting at 6-6 two weeks ago, but losses to the Rams and the Dolphins have New England at 6-8 with games remaining against Buffalo and the Jets. Buffalo won the first meeting between the two teams; can the Bills complete the sweep?
Read our thoughts on this AFC East matchup before you commit to your bets.
When: Monday, December 28, 2020, 8:15 pm ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Radio: Westwood One
JAZZ Sports Odds: Bills -7 / Total 46*
Why the Bills Will Win
Josh Allen has thrown for exactly 4,000 yards through 14 games, with 30 touchdown passes against nine interceptions. He also has run for 383 yards and eight more scores. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss have combined for 1,060 rushing yards and five touchdowns, but it’s the passing game that has taken off for the Bills this year. Stefon Diggs has 111 catches for 1,314 yards, and Cole Beasley is just 50 receiving yards from joining Diggs in the 1,000-yard club for 2020.
The defense has also taken off in Buffalo since the first third of the season. Jordan Poyer is the team’s leading tackler with 117 total tackles (85 solo). Mario Addison, A.J. Klein and Jerry Hughes have combined for 14 ½ sacks. The Bills have covered in six games in a row overall, but have only covered once in their last six AFC East contests. Interestingly, the road team has covered in 21 of the last 31 meetings between the Bills and the Patriots, showing the close nature of the rivalry (as well as the Patriots’ recent dominance in Buffalo).
Why the Patriots Will Win
The Patriots have picked up some surprising wins this season, most recently with a 45-0 shellacking of the Los Angeles Chargers three weeks ago. However, teams have figured out the limitations of the New England offense, as Cam Newton has only 2,381 passing yards and a dreadful 5:10 TD:INT ratio. Jarrett Stidham has come on in limited action but has not been able to pry away the starting job. Damien Harris and Sony Michel have combined for 995 rushing yards and four touchdowns, and Newton has contributed with 489 rushing yards and 11 scores on the ground, but the Pats have not been able to get offensive traction consistently.
On defense, J.C. Jackson has been a beast in the secondary, snagging eight interceptions. Chase Winovich and Adam Butler have combined for 6 ½ sacks. Adrian Phillips leads the team with 101 total tackles (70 solo). The Patriots have covered four in a row as a home underdog. If you like the Patriots here, you see Bill Belichick pulling more coaching wizardry out of his bag.
The Final Word
The Bills have overcome challenge after challenge since an early two-game losing streak to Tennessee and Kansas City, and their combination of offense and defense make them a tough stop for anyone. I see the Patriots keeping this close before Buffalo pulls away late.
*Odds are subject to change.