Buffalo Bills (5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (9-0 SU, 5-2-2 ATS)
Pro Football Week 11
Date/Time: Monday, November 23rd, 8:30 PM EST
Where: Foxboro Stadium
By Mike M., NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BUF +7 / NE -7
Over/Under Total: 48.5
The Buffalo Bills journey east on I-90 to take on the New England Patriots for a Monday Night Football showdown at Foxboro Stadium in the final game of the week 11 slate in the NFL. The Patriots will be looking to remain undefeated on the season while the Bills are hoping to continue their recent AFC East winning streak, having beaten the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets the previous two weeks.
The Bills will be playing on eleven days having last played on Thursday of the previous week when they won 22-17 on the road against the Jets. Beating his former team clearly meant a lot to Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan, who looked like a more spastic version of Chris Farley doing his Matt Foley living in a van down by the river sketch while celebrating his teams victory. Ryan explained his behavior in the postgame press conference, comparing the Jets to an ex-girlfriend, saying its kinda like being dumped by a girl.. eventually theyll call you back, but they cant get you back. Not sure his analogy really makes sense, as after Ryans initial first two years of coaching the Jets in 2009 and 2010 the team went four straight years without a winning season or playoff appearance, achieving a record of just 26-38 from 2011-2014 before he was let go by the team. I cant imagine the Jets will be pounding down his door anytime soon asking for help, similar to how no team in their right mind would consider hiring his failed defensive coordinator of a brother Rob, who was finally fired by the Saints last week after his team continued to rank at the bottom of the NFL barrel in total defense in 2015 (dead last at 32) after finishing second to last in 2014.
Buffalo enters their matchup against the Patriots as healthy as they have been all year, which is a big boost for the team which has gone 3-1 on the season when all three of their major offensive threats start; quarterback Tyrod Taylor, running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (though for the record the lone blemish was their week two loss against the Patriots). Taylor has played efficiently well since the New England, throwing seven touchdowns compared to just one interception, and now ranks third in the NFL in passing with a rating of 106.2. The Bills seemed to have gotten a steal in this years draft when they took running back Karlos Williams from Florida State in the fifth round. Williams played well while filling in for McCoy when he was injured earlier in the year and has averaged over six yards per carry on the season and just tied an NFL record by a scoring a touchdown in each of the first six games of his NFL career. He hopes to avoid anywhere close to a similar fate to the person whose record he tied, former Patriots running back Robert Edwards. The Patriots picked Edwards out of Georgia with the 18th pick in the 1998 draft, who was then runner up for offensive rookie of the year as he scored twelve touchdowns and accounted for 1,446 yards of total offense his first season. During the Pro Bowl weekend at years end Edwards was invited to play in the NFLs first and thankfully only Rookie Beach Bowl. Edwards suffered a horrific knee injury during the game, tearing all four major knee ligaments (ACL, LCL, MCL and PCL) and nearly had to have his leg amputated as a result of the damage. In a league that has been chock full of stupid decisions in recent history, the Beach Bowl clearly remains one of the worst.
While nothing as drastic of the Edwards variety, the Patriots suffered another injury to a key player this eason as they lost leading receiver Julian Edelman for two months due to a broken bone in his foot that he suffered in last weeks 27-26 win on the road against the Giants. This is the second straight week New England has lost an offensive skill position starter after Dion Lewis tore his ACL seven days earlier against the Redskins and will miss the remainder of the season. The loss of Edelman is especially key as the Patriots were already lacking in the wide receiver department and will need Aaron Dobson, Keshaun Martin or just signed off the practice squad Chris Harper to step in fill the third wide receiver slot behind starters Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola. Integrating new players will be made significantly more difficult by their inconsistent offensive line, which has also been ravaged by injuries all season and is currently missing major pieces Sebastian Volmer, Nate Solder, Ryan Wendell, Marcus Cannon and Tre Jackson. The offense is not the only part of the team with issues, as emerging star linebacker Jamie Collins has missed the teams last two games with a virus and is still questionable and four time Pro Bowler Matthew Slater is also battling the injury bug and may not play this week, so the Patriots will need players from all facets of the team to rise to the occasion if they want to keep their undefeated season going through the back half of the schedule.
Thankfully for the Foxboro faithful they still have quarterback Tom Brady, who will look to continue his success against the Bills, the team he has played his best against throughout his career. Brady has more career wins (24) and has thrown more touchdowns (61) against Buffalo than any other team in the NFL, and the 466 yards passing he put up against Buffalo in week two was the most he has thrown for all season by over 100 yards and was the most passing yards the Bills had let up in their team history. It certainly doesnt hurt to have the best kicker in football either, as Stephen Gostowski showed yet again last week why he is at the top of his position as he drilled a 54 yard field goal with only a second left in a windy MetLife stadium to give the Patriots the win last week. It was Gostowskis 30th consecutive field goal made, which ranks third all-time in NFL history, and also his 264th converted field goal as a Patriot, which eclipsed Adam Vinatieri for the team record. Its not all about solo accomplishments, especially on the Patriots, as the team as a whole set an NFL record last week when they scored in their 35th (and counting) consecutive quarter in the win against the Giants also guaranteed they would achieve their 15th straight winning season (3rd all-time in NFL History) and further means they have the second most winning seasons of any team in the league since the merger of 1970, which is noticeable achievement considering how terrible the team has been at times, most notably during the disastrous Victor Kiam/Rod Rust type eras.
Many believe the Patriots seem ripe for a possible letdown after last weeks exhausting victory and added injury to Edelman, especially against a rejuvenated Bills team that is playing their best football of the season and get a shot at revenge against a New England that their coach said was clearly trying to embarrass us in their week 2 loss in Buffalo. Injuries or revenge emotions aside, its difficult to go against this steamrolling Patriots team, especially in the second of the season as since 2010 Belichick and Brady have an incredible record of 36-5 in games played in November and December. The Patriots may be hurting but are still well capable of putting up points, and only giving seven at home they are a quality play to end your NFL weekend with a win.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England -7
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