Buffalo (11-3) at New England (6-8)
When: Monday, December 28th, 2020
Where: Gillette Stadium,
Time: 8:15 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Buffalo -4.5/45
There’s a new king sitting atop the AFC East, as the Buffalo Bills have finally dethroned the New England Patriots’ amazing division run. Now the Bills can really stick a dagger in the Patriots when they tangle for a Week 16 Monday Night Football affair in Foxborough, Ma. Buffalo has reeled off four consecutive victories for their first division crown since 1995, and they’re touchdown favorites on the road against a Pats team that will miss the playoffs. It’s the second time this season the Patriots have received 7+ points at home after having not been that big an underdog at Gillette Stadium since 2001. The Patriots won outright the last time, beating Baltimore 23-17 at +7 back on Nov. 15, and have gone 6-0 ATS the last six times they’ve been given seven more points at home. New England’s 11-year reign atop the division effectively came to an end at the hands of Josh Allen, who recorded four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) in a 48-19 win in Denver on Saturday. The performance also earned Allen his fourth AFC Offensive Player of the Week honor of the season. The Bills own the NFL’s second-ranked passing offense (278.5) and fifth-ranked scoring offense (29.1 points). Cam Newton was held without a touchdown pass for the eighth time this season in New England’s 22-12 setback to Miami on Sunday. The former Carolina Panther did rush for a touchdown in a 24-21 loss at Buffalo on Nov. 1.
The total for this contest on Monday is set at 46 and most of the money is coming in on the over. The Bills are 10-4 to the over this season including 6-1 when on the road. The Patriots, on the other hand, come in having converted the Under in each of their past six games, with only one of those going over 40 points. New England is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight meetings with Buffalo.
Allen has been a big reason why the Bills come in with a six-game consecutive cover streak, but didn’t play his best earlier this season versus New England. Allen went just 11-for-18 for 154 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in Buffalo’s 24-21 home win on Nov. 1, but did rush for a score. He is in the NFL MVP discussion after passing for 359 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions on 28-of-40 completions against Denver last week. The Bills are averaging 36.0 points in their last three games, and are sixth in the NFL with 3.4 touchdowns per contest. Wideout Stefon Diggs has done his fair share in opening up the offense for Allen. Diggs’ 111 receptions lead the NFL while his career-high 1,314 receiving yards trail only Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins (1,324) and Kansas City’s Travis Kelce (1,318) for most the league. Diggs was listed as a full participant in Thursday’s practice despite injuring his foot against Denver. Buffalo’s defense is in the middle of the pack in almost every category including 17th in points allowed per game (24.3). The Bills will finish the season at home versus Miami next week.
New England can now start figuring out what they want to do next season and that begins at quarterback. There were rumors that Newton might be benched in favor of Jarrett Stidham this week, but it doesn’t appear that will happen. Stidham is the only one of the Patriots’ three current QBs under contract next season. Newton is definitely not the future in Foxborough. His season has been a mess, throwing just five touchdown passes to 10 interceptions. The Patriots are hoping they can get Damien Harris back into action. Harris missed the Miami game with an ankle injury, but he’s participated in practice on Tuesday. He ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in the first meeting with the Bills. The defense is still capable of slowing teams down, ranking sixth in points allowed (21.5) and fifth against the pass (212.4). The Patriots listed 20 players as limited in Thursday’s practice, including special teams ace Matthew Slater (knee). Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week. New England will close the season at home versus the Jets next week.
New England’s defense will be up for the task in this one. They are not going to allow Buffalo to stomp all over them. Allen struggled against them earlier this season and the Patriots are very good as a home underdog. New England will fight and keep this close.
Pick: Patriots +7
Week 16 Staff Selections