New England Patriots (8-4, 8-4 ATS) at Buffalo Bills (7-4, 6-5 ATS)
Time: 8:15 p.m. EST
Caesars Sportsbook Line: Bills -2.5 (43)
The skinny: The marquee game of the week not only determines who will be in first place in the AFC East, but it also puts the winner in solid shape to earn the top seed in the conference.
Facts: The forecast calls for freezing temps at kickoff for the first time in the league this season — 30 degrees with the wind chill in the mid-teens thanks to winds of 22 mph.
Buffalo has won two in a row in the series, both last season. That’s the longest winning streak for the Bills over the Patriots since they won three straight from 1999-2000.
Buffalo is coming off a dominating 31-6 Turkey Day win over the Saints in the Superdome and therefore had an extended weekend break. The Patriots, who have won a league-high six straight games (6-0 ATS, too), walloped severely depleted Tennessee 36-13 last Sunday, but the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense inexplicably yielded 270 rushing yards to a Titans team missing its top RB, Derrick Henry (IR). That’s by far the most ground yards for a losing team the past three seasons.
In last season’s Week 16 meeting, Buffalo QB Josh Allen had four TDs and no INTs in a 38-9 win at New England. But when he lines up against the Pats on Sunday, he’ll likely see only one player who started that previous game, J.C. Jackson, who’s had 16 INTs the past two seasons.
Analysis: Both teams rank 1-2 in various statistical categories. For instance, New England has the league’s best points differential at plus-146, with Buffalo next at 144. The Bills have the best defensive passer rating, with the Patriots No. 2. Both teams are tied for second entering Week 13 with 25 takeaways.
Sounds kind of even, but here’s what warrants giving the Bills the edge:
Sure, Buffalo lost two-time Pro Bowl CB Tre’Davious White to a torn ACL last week, but are likely getting back two key offensive linemen and a run-stuffing DT in Star Lotulelei.
Also, when it comes to the cold and whipping wind, wouldn’t it logically make sense that Buffalo’s Allen, who played at Wyoming and has been in Buffalo four seasons, rate an edge over rookie Mac Jones, who grew up in Florida and played at Alabama before moving on to New England this year?
Patriots at Bills Pick
Bills 23, Patriots 16
Last week: 8-7 ATS, 8-7 SU
Season total: 86-91-3 (.486) ATS; 108-71-1 (.603) SU