Buffalo Bills (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date and Time: Sunday, October 5, 2014, 1:00 pm EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
TV: FOX, DirecTV 709
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Buff. +7/Det. -7
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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Five weeks into the National Football League Season and the 2-2 Buffalo Bills may be pushing the panic button a little, benching starting quarterback E.J. Manuel in favor of veteran Kyle Orton, when the Bills travel to Ford Field to take on the red-hot Detroit Lions in an early game Sunday on Fox.
With New England showing signs of being ripe for the taking in the AFC East, the Bills are tied atop the division standings in a three-way tie with the Patriots and Miami Dolphins. Usually that is hardly a time to axe the QB, but new head coach Doug Marrone even threw Manuel under the bus with the explanation being we cant keep going in the direction that were going.
The Bills have played two straight lousy games to get to 2-2, but its not like their troubles on offense the past two weeks were strictly on the QB play. Manuel was 22-for-44 in the loss at Houston last week, 23-17, but accuracy aside he did throw two touchdowns and two interceptions albeit for limited yardage (225 yards) on short throws.
On the flip side, Detroit hopes to keep going in the direction they are going following their second straight impressive performance after beating the New York Jets on the road last week, 24-17. With a chance to stay a game ahead of the pack in the NFC North race, the Lions hope to keep the pedal down and beat up on an indecisive Bills team in front of the home crowd in noisy Ford Field.
The Bills sudden change in QB has, of course, altered the point spread for the game on Sunday. The Lions opened as 5-point favorites late on Sunday, then on Monday when the announcement was made it was Ortons job, the spread shot up to Detroit by a full touchdown -7 at most sportsbooks.
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The over/under total opened at 44 and continues to hover around that number currently, although most books have dropped it down to 43.5 to take the push out of play.
With Orton playing QB all bets are off as to how well the Bills offense will operate. One could argue the two-headed approach at running back with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller isnt getting either of them enough touches in the ground game. But its clear that Orton was brought in to upgrade the Bills passing attack (198.5 ypg 31st in NFL), and getting young wideouts Sammy Watkins (17 rec.), Robert Woods (11 rec.) and Mike Williams (7 rec.) more involved in the attack. Theyll face the No. 1-ranked defense in the league right now, as the Lions are No. 2 versus the pass (186 ypg) and No. 6 versus the run (80.8 ypg) for the season.
The Bills defense will have to contend with Mathew Stafford at quarterback, who seems to be starting to show signs of championship maturity. Stafford has controlled his interceptions for the most part (3 through 4 games), and the Lions offense has relied on the passing game (276 ypg 7th) to get points on the board this year.
Right now Buffalo has been a lousy wager on the road, going 4-9 ATS in their last 12 road games. The best looking betting trend for this matchup is the under, which is 4-0 in the last four head-to-head meetings, and is 4-0 in all four of the Bills games this year, and 3-1 in the Lions four games thus far.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I fully expect the Lions to win, and theyll likely win big. But the change at QB for Buffalo gives me enough uncertainty that it will make this game a no-play one for me. If I play anything on this game, Id play the under of 43.5 since I expect Buffalos offense to struggle and the Bills defense to keep them in it for awhile.