Denver Broncos (8-6 SU, 7-7 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bills (5-9 SU, 5-8-1 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, NFL Week 16, Saturday, December 24, 2011, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, New York, TV: CBS
by Scotty L, Sports Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Den -2.5/Buf +2.5
The Denver Broncos come to Ralph Wilson Stadium on Saturday to face the Buffalo Bills. The Broncos winning ways came to an end on Sunday in a 41-23 home loss to New England. They must now pick up and face the Bills, who are 4-3 at home–with only one loss by more than 7 points. At the same time, this is a game featuring a team clinging to a one-game lead in a division where no one has been eliminated against a team that has lost 7 straight games.
The Bills tank job this year of almost epic proportions. They were looking good at 5-2. Playing as home favorites against the Jets, they lost badly and then went on a brutal 3-game home stretch that sent them spiraling with loss after loss. At the betting widows, the situation hasnt been much better, with one lone cover since October 30. Facing a Denver team with a high level of urgency, it seems like a tough task lies ahead on Saturday.
The point spread of Denver by a point-and-a-half seems to suggest Buffalo is better than their recent plight would suggest. To their credit, the defense hasnt totally folded the tent and gone home yet. At least some of them are trying hard, but spending so much time on the field can fatigue any defense. The problem here is an offense that opened the season averaging nearly 38 points in the first 3 games has been churning out an average of under 15 points in their past 7 games.
So the Denver setback to New England doesnt look so bad in light of the Bills demise. Maybe too much was made of it in the first place. A big part of the reason Tebow received so much attention was because of the impossible comebacks he made, which doesnt mean the Broncos are necessarily a great team. But losing to the Patriots is certainly no disgrace and the Broncos might be a little more hard-edged for this game than they would have been coming off a 7-game winning streak.
One interception in the past 7 games speaks to Tebows efficiency. His clutch performances make you think twice about betting against the Broncos if you think its going to be a close game. Even in defeat, he ran for 93 yards on Sunday and Willis McGahee went over 1000 yards for the season. While McGahee is ailing from a strained hamstring, he is expected to play and Lance Ball is also a nice option in the Broncos deep running game–ranked #1 in the NFL.
This season shows that you can never go off which team is in a more urgent situation as it pertains to the postseason. Last Sunday, that would have been a losing betting strategy. Maybe Buffalo can get it together. It might be a cliche, but people are fighting for their jobs on the roster and coaching staff in Buffalo, or at least auditioning for future gigs. In the late-season, its not unusual to see a team that presumably has nothing to play for give a great effort, even against teams that are still involved in the playoff picture.
Maybe it all happened too fast for Bills. Suddenly, they found themselves at 5-2 and didnt know how to act in that spot. A quarterback getting a monster deal and everyone telling you how good you are has a way of taking away the very edge that allowed you to scrap to 5-2 in the first place. Now that the playoffs are completely out of the question and no one is really paying attention anymore, they can find a groove against a Denver team that is good, but a group that they can work with a little bit.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Tebow time? Not this weekend. The Bills get the monkey off their back and get a hard fought win at home behind the legs of CJ Spiller.
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