New England Patriots (6-1 SU, 6-1 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bills (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Sunday October 30th at 1:00 EST
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium
by Mike M, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE-6 / BUF+6
Over/Under Total: 47
The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills will battle it out at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday in a AFC East showdown amongst divisional rivals with no love lost between them. This will be their second meeting in less than a month, with the Bills having shutout the Patriots 16-0 back on October 2nd back in week four.
Despite the game against the Patriots being early in the season, against a team starting a third string rookie quarterback with a wide receiver as his only backup at the position, and their victory being only their 3rd in the past 28 games against New England, it did nothing to dissuade the Bills players and coaches from celebrating their just out of Summer victory like they had just won a Super Bowl. Which I guess is something you need to do when you have the longest playoff drought in the league (16 years and counting) and any victory against a real team will have to substitute as a season highlight when there isnít much else in the way of legit success to compare it to. The Bills also showed their character and toughness in pregame warmups as well by picking fights and shoving Patriots assistant head coaches as the dwarfed coaching staff did their best to break up nonsense that had been caused by the Buffalo players. Though karma eventually reared its ugly head at one of the biggest instigators of them all, safety Aaron Williams, as he will likely miss this weekís game after getting demolished by Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry on a crackback block last week. Buffalo players were up in arms after the game about the supposed cheap shot, as I guess to them itís only fair to try and hit/push/fight coaches on the field, not the actual players who deserve whatever comeuppance heads their way.
The injury to Aaron Williams is far from the only one on the Billsí roster as many an important player are at best questionable to play on Sunday. Defensively Williams is joined by star defensive end Marcel Dareus on the injury report, as Dareus has yet to play this season due to a nagging hamstring injury though his chances do look plausible for Sunday. The offensive side of the ball is in significantly worse shape than the defense with running backs LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee joining wide receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin along with tight end Charles Clay on an injury report that already included Greg Salas and star wideout Sammy Watkins. Backup running back Gillislee is the only one of the group listed as probable to play, and if the report holds true to form and he is the only injured one of the group to end up on the field Sunday, the Bills already anemic offense (31st in passing, 25th overall) could be in for a long day trying to keep pace with a Patriots team that has been near unstoppable since Tom Brady returned three weeks ago.
Through three games Brady has completed 76 or 101 passes (75%) for 1004 yards while throwing for eight touchdowns and zero interceptions, and now has his sites on a Bills passing defense that ranks 26th in the NFL and will likely be missing one its better defensive backs with Williams suffering the head/neck injuries from getting laid out by Landry. This should open the field even more for one of Bradyís favored target, tight end Rob Gronkowski, who returned to play full time the same week as his quarterback and since their return has caught 16 passes for 364 yards and two touchdowns. The additional attention paid to the surging Gronk should also held the point starved Julian Edelman, who leads the Patriots in receptions with 37 (10 more than next player) but has yet to score a touchdown this season after getting into the endzone seven times a year ago. The two will do whatever they can to help Brady get a win on Sunday, as it would the 26th of his career (25-3 all time) against the Bills, which would tie Brett Favre for the all time record for most wins by a starting quarterback against a single team.
While the Buffalo offense continues to lose critical players to the Patriots are due to return of their better young talents with multi-dimensional running back Dion Lewis now eligible to return from a torn ACL suffered last season. Whenever Lewis is officially activated he will join a Patriots backfield that ranks 6th in the NFL in rushing and is headed by LeGarrette Blount, who leads the NFL in touchdowns with eight while coming in sixth in the league in rushing yards with 566 thus far. Blount is certainly not alone as third year RB James White has filled in admirably for Lewis as a change of pace back and is tied for 5th amongst running backs in receptions with 27 so far this year and also tied for the touchdown lead amongst his position mates with 3. There is never too much talent to be had in the backfield, though the return of Lewis could mean the phasing out of Brandon Bolden, who had two brutal mistakes against the Steelers last week that cost the team points in both directions and could have cost them a victory, along with a cover for loyal readers and/or financial backers of the team.
The Patriots have gone fifteen straight seasons without being swept by a divisional opponent and I fully expect them to continue that streak with a victory against Buffalo on Sunday. After seeing the pregame nonsense and then reading the ignorantly comical comments by the Bills after the game was over, I remember thinking the that New England giving anything less than 10 in the next game with Brady and Gronk both back and payback on the Patriots would be a smart pick, and this was well before Buffalo was dealing with the current rash of injuries infiltrating both sides of their roster. New England has gone 11-1 straight up and 10-2 against the spread in their last 12 games in Buffalo, and you can count on the same type of success again on Sunday as the Patriots get a win and cover on the road in Buffalo in a divisional game that will have them already setup at midseason to lay claim to their 14th AFC East title in 15 seasons.
Mike Mís Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England -6
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