The top spot in the AFC East is up for grabs as the top two teams in the division take the field in Western New York to close out week 13 of the NFL schedule. Bill Belichick leads the New England Patriots on the road as they travel to face the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. New England comes in off a 36-13 home win over Tennessee as a 7.5-point favorite last Sunday in their previous contest. Buffalo handled New Orleans 31-6 on the road as a seven-point favorite in their last game on Thanksgiving night. The Patriots own a 75-45-1 advantage in the all-time regular-season series but the Bills won both meetings last year, prevailing 24-21 at home on November 1, 2020 and following that up with a 38-9 romp on the road on December 28, 2020, en route to the AFC East title.
New England Patriots Look to Maintain Top SpotNew England ran their win streak to six games as they dusted Tennessee at home last week as the Titans played without A.J. Brown, Julio Jones and Derrick Henry, among others. The Patriots now go on the road to face their competition in the AFC East for the first of two meetings in the month of December. Against the Titans, New England led 7-0 after the opening quarter and a 16-13 edge at the half. The second half saw the Patriots shut Tennessee out as they scored the final 20 points in the game to hand the Titans a blowout loss. New England held a 394-355 edge in total offense, racked up a 23-18 edge in first downs and forced four turnovers while not committing one. That helped make up for losing the time of possession by a 31:02 to 28:58 margin in the contest.
The Patriots enter week 13 ranked 14th in the league in passing offense as they average 240 yards per game through the air. New England is 12th in the league in rushing offense with an average of 115.3 yards per contest on the ground. The Patriots are 7th in the league in scoring offense as they put up an average of 28 points per game. New England is 1st in scoring defense as they allow just 15.8 points per contest. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones is 268 of 381 passing for 2,850 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the year. He’s been sacked 24 times for 204 yards in losses while adding 71 yards on the ground. Damien Harris leads the ground game with 154 carries for 643 yards and eight scores on the year. Rhamondre Stevenson (76 carries, 351 yards, three TD) and Brandon Bolden (26 carries, 141 yards) are next in line on the ground. Jakobi Meyers leads the team with 59 receptions for 620 yards and a touchdown this season. Kendrick Bourne (42 catches, team-high 623 yards, five TD), Nelson Agholor (32 catches, 416 yards, three TD), tight ends Hunter Henry (35 grabs, 394 yards, seven TD) plus Jonnu Smith (25 catches, 259 yards, TD) and Bolden (31 receptions, 296 yards, TD) are all over the 250-yard mark in receiving yards. Nick Folk is 29 of 33 on extra-point attempts and 31 of 34 on field-goal attempts with a long of 53 this season.
New England has a slew of guys who were limited in practice on Friday to keep an eye on leading into kickoff. Center David Andrews (shoulder), linebackers Dont’a Hightower (ankle) and Ja’Whaun Bentley (ribs), defensive lineman Christian Barmore (knee), tackle Trent Brown (calf), running back Brandon Bolden (knee), kicker Nick Folk (knee) and wide receiver Gunner Olszewski (ankle) were all limited Friday.
Buffalo Bills Try to Regain Division LeadBuffalo bounced back from getting trounced by the Colts as they hammered the Saints on the road on Thanksgiving night on the road. The Bills used the extra rest leading into this game as they try to get some of their walking wounded back up to speed. Against the Saints, Buffalo overcame a couple of early miscues offensively and stifled the New Orleans offense on the defensive side of the ball en route to the win. The Bills were up 10-0 at the half and 24-0 after three quarters as they cruised to victory. Buffalo held a 361-190 edge in total offense, rolled up a 21-12 advantage in first downs and owned a 34:38 to 25:22 edge in time of possession to make up for losing the turnover battle 2-1.
On the year, the Bills are seventh in the league in passing offense with an average of 271 yards per game and 11th in rushing with an average of 118.3 yards per contest. Buffalo is second in the league in scoring offense by putting up 29.6 points per contest and they are second in the league in scoring defense by allowing 16.5 points per game. Josh Allen is 274 of 410 passing for 3,071 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season. He is second on the team with 383 rushing yards and three scores. Mitch Trubisky has hit five of his seven pass attempts for 28 yards and an interception while adding 27 yards plus a score on the ground. Devin Singletary (98 carries, 459 yards, two TD), Zack Moss (75 carries, 265 yards, four TD) and Matt Breida (21 carries, 109 yards, TD) have shared the workload on the ground this season. Stefon Diggs leads the team with 67 receptions for 847 yards plus seven scores on the season. Cole Beasley (62 grabs, 530 yards, TD), Emmanuel Sanders (36 receptions, 559 yards, four TD), Gabriel Davis (17 catches, 312 yards, two TD) and Dawson Knox (31 catches, 415 yards, seven TD) each have gone over the 300-yard mark in receiving this season. Tyler Bass has drilled all 34 extra-point attempts and 20 of 23 field-goal attempts with a long of 57 this season.
The Bills are getting healthier thanks to the extra rest from the Thanksgiving game. While they did lose cornerback Tre’Davious White for the season with a torn ACL, the rest of the injury report was thin. Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (illness), who missed the last three games, along with fullback Reggie Gilliam (ankle) and linebacker Matt Milano (shoulder) was limited Friday. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders didn’t practice as he had a veteran rest day. Lotulelei and starting right tackle Spencer Brown were activated from the COVID-19 list earlier this week while guard Jon Feliciano was activated from injured reserve: he missed the last four weeks with a calf injury.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This one is going to be a typical hard-hitting matchup between division opponents with first place at stake. While Jones and the Patriots have had a lot of success of late, they’ve hardly faced a Murderer’s Row of defenses. Beating the Falcons (31st in scoring defense), the Jets (32nd), the banged-up Titans (22nd) and Chargers (29th) doesn’t move the needle much. While the Panthers (8th) and Browns (10th) are above average, Carolina has no offense to speak of with injuries and struggles. New England now has to face a Buffalo team that is second in scoring offense and second in scoring defense. The Bills are a capable team that has played to their level of competition this year. With first place at stake and with 70,000 fans in attendance, Buffalo will feed off that and earn a hard-fought win to wrest back the top spot in the division.
Full-Game Total Pick
New England comes into this game having split their 12 games in relation to the total this season. The Patriots started the season with four straight unders but have gone over the mark in six of their last eight contests. Buffalo has seen the under post a 6-5 mark in their games this season and are coming off an under in the win over the Saints on Thanksgiving night. The biggest factor in this contest may not be the defenses, or the fans, but the weather. Current weather forecasts the temperature at game time to be in the mid-30s with flurries and winds from the west at 20 miles per hour gusting up to 43. That can make for some hostile conditions and it’s an environment that Jones isn’t accustomed to. The total has dropped during the week, going from 45 to 40.5 as of Saturday afternoon. It may not take 20 points to get a winner in this slugfest. Lean toward the under here.