Thursday Night NFL: A Playoff Atmosphere in New England

NFL Dec 01, 2022


Buffalo at New England.

What a terrific Thursday night matchup that's likely to have a playoff atmosphere.

This is an absolute "must-win" game for the Patriots (6-5), who have exceeded most expectations this season, but are just a loss away from a .500 record and likely elimination from serious playoff consideration.

There's just as much pressure on the Bills (8-3) to win, as well. Buffalo is in a dogfight with Miami (also 8-3), which is one of the NFL's hottest teams at the moment.

Both teams here need the win.

So, who will win?  More important, which team will cover?

Here's the latest odds according to SPREADS.CA:

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Game Analysis:

Several conflicting trends make this a difficult outcome to predict.

Buffalo wins games, but they tend not to cover. The Bills are an awful 0-4-1 ATS since their bye week.  Another concern for Buffalo is this being a division road game (often a bad spot no matter what the circumstances, which is complicated even more by the Bills playing the third straight week on the road.

Meanwhile betting markets still may be underestimating New England -- winners of five of their last seven games (and 6-2 ATS in their last eight).

Both defenses are solid, ranking #4 and #5 in the NFL in points allowed. New England's defense is actually slightly better when it comes to yards allowed, ranking #4 in the NFL (the Bills' defense ranks #8). So, New England may have a slight edge here.

Our final summation is as follows:

(1) Three straight road games will take a toll on the Bills.

(2) We like division home dogs anyway, but getting +4.5 is too generous to pass up.

(3) Buffalo has underperformed to market expectations in the last month, while New England has exceeded market expectations.

(4) The Patriots should have covered and perhaps won last week, and might have were it not for a late roughing the kicker penalty. That was an impressive loss and non-cover (versus a 9-2 team) that really wasn't indicative of how well New England actually played.

(5) And finally, Bill Belichick getting points at home late in the season, and coaching for his playoff life---we really like that intangible.

The weather will be cold but shouldn't be much of a factor.

Prediction:  

This game should be close, and the points could matter. Three bets we like are New England as the home dog +4.5 and the Patriots going OVER their team total in the first half (9.5) and for the game (19.5).

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