Buffalo Bills (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS)
Week 4 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: BUF +7/NE -7
Over/Under Total: 43
The Buffalo Bills come into Foxboro to face the New England Patriots in week three AFC East action. The Patriots have been tremendous in winning (and covering) all three of their games. On Thursday Night Football, with a third-string quarterback, the Patriots shut out the 2-0 Houston Texans in a big win. Jacoby Brissett played really well and intelligently, filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo. Tom Brady returns next week. They just have to hold it together for one more game. Look for a revitalized Buffalo team to turn up in Foxboro, with the Bills coming off a big win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, 33-18. The Bills can now move forward with some optimism.
Brady's replacements have fared well, but are finding the rigors of NFL football to be a lot to withstand. Brissett suffered a thumb injury in the win over Houston, as Garoppolo was sidelined after getting slammed on his shoulder. They'll have to piece it together for just one more week before their hero returns. In the meanwhile, they haven't been doing too badly, beating Arizona, Miami, and Houston and over-performing, at least according to the point spreads, which they have beaten by a combined 39.5 points.
Contributing to the Patriots success during this period has been the defense. Holding a home Arizona team to 21 points counts as a victory. At Miami, they gave up 24, but New England had built up a big lead and perhaps let their foot off the gas mentally. On Thursday, being able to shut out Houston was a big accomplishment. Granted, Houston isn't the best team offensively, but they got absolutely nowhere with New England's defense, Brock Osweiler was flustered throughout the evening, going under 200 yards with no touchdowns and a pick. They honed in on DeAndre Hopkins, leaving him with a far below-average 56 yards and no scores. They give opposing offenses a lot of different looks for which they're not accustomed and Houston seemed really thrown for a loop on Thursday. Jabaal Sheard had two sacks, Jamie Collins blanketed the field and had a pick, while Duron Harmon and Jordan Richards each recovered a fumble. They've gotten 7 turnovers in the last two games.
You have to hand it to the coaching, as the Patriots offense was suddenly able to make it work with Brissett, more of a running QB than either Brady or Garoppolo. Brissett threw for a pretty miniscule 103 yards on 11-for-19 passing, but he ran for 48 yards, including a nifty 27-yard TD run that put a lot of wind into the New England sails. LeGarrette Blount continued his strong start to the season and you'd figure he would be depended on more heavily during this period. He ran for 105 yards and a touchdown against Houston. Danny Amendola caught a few key third down passes. It was a resourceful 27 points that the Pats scored on Thursday. The Texans hadn't even given up that many points in their first two games combined. You start to wonder if the personnel isn't almost secondary in the Patriots machine.
The Patriots may have been galvanized by the pursuit of the commissioner and the league in suspending Brady, in addition to the other issues over recent years. It's like they're showing everyone that you can't keep them down and they'll rise above whatever the league tries to do to them. With Brady coming back after this game, I wouldn't suspect this to be a time where they'd slow down. This is their third straight game at home. They're nice and dug-in, ready to make another point before Brady re-emerges. Five of the next 7 games are on the road and now is the time to keep doing damage. They beat Buffalo last season both times by 7 and 8 points. Since September 2011, the only time Buffalo beat New England was in a throwaway week 17 game in 2014 when the Pats had nothing to gain.
The Buffalo win over Arizona on Sunday was quite unexpected. The Bills were looking ragged in weeks one and two. They lost one-score games, but each loss was dysfunctional in its own way and after the 37-31 loss to the Jets, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman. On Sunday, the Bills defense got five turnovers, including four interceptions of Carson Palmer, one of which was run back for a TD. On offense, the Bills came through with a big dose of the run game, with LeSean McCoy having a big day with 110 yards and two touchdowns, while QB Tyrod Taylor ran for 76 yards and a score. They didn't really need to call on the iffy aerial attack, though Robert Woods added a useful 6 catches, with McCoy adding three. The continued health issues faced by Sammy Watkins (out), however, really hurts the potential of their aerial attack.
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The Bills were in complete command of the game, Late in the third, they built up a 30-7 lead against a Cardinals team that looked like it had righted the ship the week before with a total destruction of Tampa. Buffalo was able to allow very little from Arizona when it counted. Stephon Gilmore picked off a couple passes, while the secondary held the prolific Arizona aerial offense to 260 yards on 50 Carson Palmer attempts. Arizona converted just once on three red-zone trips, while the Buffalo pass-rush accounted for five sacks, with veteran Lorenzo Alexander getting 1.5 sacks. It summary, it was a prototypical solid Buffalo performance of the team that's knocked on the door for the past few years. A win over New England would not only even the slate at 2-2, it would also pump wins into their sails from a confidence standpoint.
Again, New England seems galvanized and on a mission in this Brady suspension period, which ends after this game. A Patriots team that has something to be pumped-up about is bad news for teams already facing enough issues with just a regular week 4 Patriots bunch that is 3-0 and might not be so shot out of a cannon. Despite the uncertainty at QB, the Pats should produce on Sunday again. But at 3-0, the betting value gravy-train has ended for New England and I think the Bills offer some upside at +7.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Buffalo Bills plus 7 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Buffalo vs. New England game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!