It was a very strong 10-1 SU, 7-4 ATS showing for favorites in the NFL on Sunday. The only underdogs to take the cash were Carolina (a SU and ATS dog winner), NY Jets, Indianapolis and Houston covering the closing line.
One of those favorites that cashed for their backers on Sunday was the Buffalo Bills who will be the focal point of this week’s NFL portion of the column. The Bills have been one of the NFL’s surprise teams in the first half of the season bolstered by a much improved defense, a solid enough offense and a coaching staff led by Sean McDermott that has been a major breath of fresh air for the franchise following the very dysfunctional Rex Ryan era. Buffalo is 5-2 SU, 5-1-1 ATS in 7 games this season and although they have had some fortune along the way leading the league in turnover margin per game.
The fact is this team was coached so poorly under Rex Ryan that having a new head coach has already made such a huge difference on its own. Buffalo was known for undisciplined and far too many penalties under Rex Ryan but they have cleaned that up significantly and their defense which took a precipitous drop during the Ryan era has looked a lot better this season and much closer to the defense the Bills had when Jim Schwartz was their DC during the 2014 season.
The Bills offense has gone back to a run first mentality with RB LeSean McCoy who had his biggest game of the season on Sunday rushing for 151 yards on 5.9 yards per carry. The Bills have looked to establish the ground game and allow QB Tyrod Taylor to make plays down the field in the passing game when required. Buffalo has plenty of room for improvement on offense as they are only 20th or lower in the NFL in total yards and passing yards per game but the Bills recently got a key piece to that offense’s potential growth back on the field with the return of left tackle Cordy Glenn three games ago and it’s not a massive coincidence the Bulls had 30+ point scoring outputs and over 700 total yards of offense in the last two games since he returned to game action.
The one thing to caution about Buffalo moving forward is that their statistical profile on paper does not look great despite the 5-2 start. The Bills have been outgained by an average of 0.5 yards per play this season and that leads one to believe this could be a team that may now be overvalued a bit as a result. Buffalo is currently split between -3 and -3.5 point road favorites in most Vegas and offshore books for their Thursday night encounter later this week against the NY Jets which is a rematch of the Week 1 matchup between these teams in Buffalo. The Bills won that game 21-12 which was good enough to cover the closing line of Buffalo -7 in what was one of Buffalo’s most statistically dominant performances of the season as they outgained the Jets 408-214 in total yards.
We saw the continued downward spiral of a team that entered this season with national championship aspirations but has struggled mightily instead and is now left to wonder if they even have the internal mechanism inside them to fight back and even just qualify for a bowl game as we approach November. I’m referring to the Florida State Seminoles who have had a massively disappointing season by their standards. From a betting perspective,
Florida State has been a money burner for their backers all season long 2-5 SU but just 0-5-2 ATS on the season as the Seminoles are still seeking their first pointspread cover. Florida State’s early season struggles were definitely somewhat schedule related as they were dealt a grueling gauntlet of games out of the gate facing Alabama and NC State in their first two games while also having to endure the season ending knee injury suffered by their top QB Deondre Francois in the Alabama game to open the season.
The team has never recovered from it as QB James Blackman who has plenty of potential and promise but has never been comfortable nor looked ready to assume the starting QB role since taking it over in their second game of the season against NC State. Blackman has meandering numbers completing only 58.6% of his passes and has tossed as many INT’s as TD’s with 7 of each. FSU has also had a vulnerability on defense against the run allowing 293 and 241 yards on the ground in their last two games against Louisville and Boston College and the team’s mentality and toughness have really been questioned as a result. FSU’s loss last week against Boston College was downright ugly a 35-3 non-competitive effort.
After that game, it is worth considering whether or not there is any emotional spirit and will left in this Seminoles team to keep fighting and playing hard the rest of the season given all the expectations prior to the season and now that those goals will no longer be met. Florida State is a much more slim home favorite than we have become accustomed to seeing this Saturday against Syracuse with the Noles laying only 4 points in that game.
Syracuse has been a vastly improved program this season upsetting Clemson at home as 3 TD underdogs and giving the undefeated Miami Hurricanes everything they could handle a couple weeks ago. If the Florida State Seminoles do not find a way to pick themselves up off the mat this week, they could be on upset alert against the Orange.