Bills vs. Patriots is going to be closer than you think

Create: 2020-12-28
Update: 2020-12-28
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Monday, December 28, 2020
Being a sports fan leads to a lot of conflicting emotions. You're often put in a spot of trying to figure out whether you'd prefer short-term gratification or the long-term variety. That's where I find myself right now.
The Chicago Bears beat Jacksonville, 41-17, on Sunday, picking up their third win in a row, and putting them in the driver's seat for the final playoff spot in the NFC. On the surface, this excites me. The problem is, I don't know if making the playoffs is suitable for the team's long-term success. 
If the Bears win against the Packers next week -- Ell Oh Ell -- they're in the playoffs. They can also get in with a loss if the Rams beat the Cardinals. That would be nice, but if making the playoffs means the Bears are more likely to give Mitch Trubisky a new contract, is that worth a likely first-round loss to the Saints?
All I can do is spend the next week in a state of existential dread thinking about it, which is the best way to spend the final week of 2020 if you think about it. I mean, it's how I've spent most of the first 51 weeks of the year.
Though, I suppose it could be worse. The Bears could be in a position where they're just releasing the quarterback they took in the first round two years ago.
  • Yep, the Washington Football Team has said goodbye to 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins.
  • Brooklyn's Spencer Dinwiddie has reportedly suffered a partially torn ACL.
  • NBA Power Rankings! Spoiler Alert: The Chicago Bulls are not No. 1. 
  • Grading first-year college football coaches.
Alright, now how about some wagers?
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Bills at Patriots, 8:15 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Patriots +7.5 (-110)
: Sometimes when betting, we have to do things we aren't excited to do. Believe me, I understand you're likely reaction to seeing the Patriots being the pick here is "eww, really?" But that's precisely the reason why you should be on the Patriots tonight. Everybody in the world is on Buffalo. The Bills have won four in a row and have clinched the AFC East while the Patriots are 6-8 and likely to finish under .500 for the first time since Bill Belichick's first season in 2000.
But we shouldn't forget the first meeting between these two. Buffalo won that game in Buffalo, 24-21, and if not for a Cam Newton fumble late in the game, the Patriots might have won. While the Bills are a better team, this isn't a particularly great matchup for them. The strength of the Buffalo defense is its secondary and its average against the run, ranking 18th in the league in rush DVOA. Well, the Patriots can't pass, but they can run the ball, ranking 7th in rush DVOA on offense. New England averaged 5.5 yards per carry in the first game and will look to repeat that here, in hopes of keeping the Bills offense off the field. It likely won't be enough to win the game, but it should keep them within a touchdown.
Key Trend: The Patriots are 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight against Buffalo.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine's Projection Model has revealed its top prop bet picks for Bills vs. Patriots on Monday Night Football.
💰 The Picks
🏈 One more MNF pick
The Pick: First Half Under 23 (-110) -- As mentioned above, New England's game plan on offense will likely be controlling the ball as long as possible with its run game to keep the Buffalo offense off the field. This approach would lead to a lower scoring game, but I'm a bit wary of taking the total for the full game. In the first meeting, we saw these two teams combine for only 13 points in the first half and then 17 in the fourth quarter alone. This isn't totally out of the ordinary in Buffalo games.
The Bills have one of the best first-half offenses in the NFL, averaging 15.2 points per game, but both of these teams are in the top 10 in points allowed in the first half. Buffalo ranks second with 9.4 points allowed per first half, while New England is ninth at 10.9. Things change in the second half (and maybe you should make a mental note of this) because while the Patriots improve to 10.6 points allowed in the second half, Buffalo drops off a cliff to 14.9 points allowed (28th in the league).
Key Trend: The under is 14-6 in New England's last 20 December games.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Your MVP or Captain
Josh Allen -- Unless you want to go contrarian, Allen is the only option here. Allen has proven to be one of the few QBs that can improve their overall accuracy. Now he's looking like the kind of franchise QB every team wants. That said, I don't think Allen's going to have a huge night tonight. He has struggled against the Patriots in his career, including earlier this season when he threw for only 154 yards and had one rushing touchdown. He's still the player most likely to finish with more fantasy points tonight, but if you do want to be contrarian, go with Cam Newton in your MVP spot.
John Brown -- We don't know if Brown will play tonight, but there's a good chance he will, and if he does, roster him. Buffalo released receiver Jake Kumerow earlier this week, which was a sign they plan to activate Brown for tonight. If Brown plays, he provides plenty of value as a big-play threat. If Brown isn't active tonight, I'd go with New England kicker Nick Folk. Yep, it'll be that kind of game.
Full lineup advice
SportsLine's team of DFS insiders has you covered for daily fantasy sports. Mike McClure has won almost $2 million playing DFS, and Jacob Gibbs was ranked as one of the nation's most accurate Fantasy experts last year. Plus, use SportsLine's all-new DFS Optimizer to get optimal NFL DFS picks from 10,000 simulations.
🏈 Monday Night Props
  • Josh Allen Over 0.5 interceptions (-115)
  • James White Over 2.5 receptions (-170)
  • Cam Newton Under 42.5 rushing yards (-115)
  • Patriots D/ST to score a touchdown (+550)
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