NFL Monday Night Football Picks: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Monday, November 23, 2015, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Gillette Stadium – Foxboro, Massachusetts
Opening Line: New England -9 1/2
Current Line: New England -7
Opening Total: 49 1/2
Current Total: 47 1/2
Opening Money Line: Patriots -310 / Bills +255
Current Money Line: Patriots -335 / Bills +275

Patriots Jets AFC Playoff Preview
The undefeated Patriots host the Bills Monday night.

The 9-0 New England Patriots look to join the Carolina Panthers at 10-0 as the Patriots host their AFC East rival, the 5-4 Buffalo Bills Monday night. The Patriots will be two games clear of every team in the AFC with a win. The Bills can tie the Pittsburgh Steelers at 6-4 for the two wild card spots in the conference with a win.

New England leads the series 68-42-1. These two original AFL rivals have been playing since 1960. New England has dominated this series since 2003 going 22-3 against Buffalo. The Patriots have won six of the last seven against the Bills including 40-32 in week two this season. The two teams combined for 5 turnovers. New England had over 500 total yards in that game, and led 37-13 going into the fourth. The Pats held off a furious fourth quarter rally to escape with the 8 point win.

Buffalo is coached by Rex Ryan. Buffalo has a home win over the Indianapolis Colts 27-14 and Miami Dolphins 33-17, plus road wins over the Dolphins 41-14, Tennessee Titans 14-13 and New York Jets 22-17 last Thursday. The Bills have home losses to the New England Patriots 40-32, New York Giants 24-10 and Cincinnati Bengals 34-21, plus a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-31 in London.

Buffalo was a 2.5 point underdog at the Jets and the total was 42. Ryan coached the Jets for several seasons before being fired last season. The Jets scored a first quarter field goal but then the Bills scored 22 straight points. New York pulled to within 22-17 midway through the fourth. The Jets had two more possessions but would not score again. The Jets had 318 total yards to 280 for the Bills, but New York was unable to overcome 4 turnovers. Buffalo is 5-4 ATS and the total is 5-4 this season.

New England is coached by Bill Belichick. The Patriots have home wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21, Jacksonville Jaguars 51-17, Jets 30-23, Miami Dolphins 36-7 and Washington Redskins 27-10. New England has road wins over the Bills 40-32, Dallas Cowboys 30-6, Indianapolis Colts 34-27 and New York Giants 27-26 last week.

The Patriots were 7 point favorites against the Giants and the total was 52. New York led 17-10 at halftime and would expand the lead to 20-10. The Giants would lead 23-17 going into the fourth. New England scored on a 76 yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski early in the fourth. The Giants would kick a field goal with 1:47 left to lead 26-24. The Patriots took over at their own 20. New England converted a fourth and ten before kicking the game winning 54 yard field goal with one second left. New England is 5-3-1 ATS and the total is 5-4 this season.

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Buffalo is outscoring teams 26-23 this season. The Bills are #7 in scoring. Buffalo averages 343 total yards per game on offense including 200 passing and 143 rushing yards. The Bills are #21 in total offense, #29 in passing and #2 in rushing. Buffalo allows 350 yards per game on defense, including 252 passing and 97 rushing yards. The Bills are #12 in rush defense but #21 against the pass. Buffalo is 47/129 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 45/126. Buffalo has forced 14 sacks and allowed 27 this season. The Bills are +5 in turnovers. Buffalo has three defensive touchdowns and has allowed two as well this season.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor missed two games with a knee injury, but returned a couple of weeks ago. E.J. Manuel started in his place. Taylor has completed 70.5% of his passes for 1,436 yards with 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and also has 47 carries for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns. Manuel has thrown for 561 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions along with 15 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown.

Running back LeSean McCoy has 113 carries for 528 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 18 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown. Karlos Williams has 58 carries for 360 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 6 catches and 2 touchdowns. He missed three games with a concussion. Boobie Dixon and Daniel Herron could get some carries. Cierre Wood is out for the season with a knee injury.

The Bills are banged up at receiver. Percy Harvin (hip) and Marquise Goodwin (ribs) are both on injured reserve. Tight end Charles Clay has 40 catches for 408 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sammy Watkins has 22 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns.  Harvin had 19 catches for 218 yards and a touchdown, along with 31 rushing yards. Robert Woods has 29 catches for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chris Hogan has 20 catches for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Five defensive players are listed on the injury report.

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New England is outscoring teams 34-19 this season. The Patriots lead the league in scoring and are #4 in points allowed. New England averages 419 total yards per game including 326 passing and 93 rushing yards per game. The Patriots are #1 in total offense and passing offense, but #28 in rushing. On defense, the Patriots allow 344 total yards per game including 256 passing and 88 rushing yards. The Patriots are #2 against the rush.  New England is 61/123 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 58/136. The Patriots have forced 21 sacks and allowed 30 this season. New England is +6 in turnovers and has allowed one defensive touchdown this season.

Quarterback Tom Brady is having another MVP caliber season. He has completed 67.8% of his passes for 3,043 yards with 24 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 28 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.

Running back LeGarrette Blount has 117 carries for 513 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 5 catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. Dion Lewis has 49 carries for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 36 catches for 388 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is out for the season with a torn ACL. No other running back has more than eight carries, so it is unclear who will get the back-up carries.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski has 49 catches for 806 yards and eight touchdown catches. Receiver Julian Edelman has 61 catches for 692 yards and seven touchdowns, along with 23 rushing yards. He is out indefinitely after suffering a broken foot last week against the Giants. Danny Amendola has 40 catches for 403 yards and 2 touchdowns. Scott Chandler, Aaron Dobson and Brandon LeFell will also get some catches. LeFell is probable with a knee injury. Keyshawn Martin and Matt Slater are both questionable.  Five defensive players and five offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

Buffalo is 5-0 ATS on fieldturf, 4-0 against teams with winning home records, and in November, 5-1 against AFC East teams, 4-1 in road games, 5-2 against teams with winning records, 9-4 against AFC teams, 2-5 after passing for less than 150 yards, 7-19-1 after a straight up win, 7-19-1 after a straight up win, and 1-4 after a cover. The road team is 15-6 ATS in this series, and the underdog is 5-1 ATS. The over is 7-2 in this series including 5-1 in Foxboro recently.

New England is 4-0-1 ATS after allowing 250 passing yards or more, 3-0-1 at home, 5-1-1 after passing for 250 yards or more, 4-1 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 12-3-1 against teams with winning road records, 7-2-1 after a straight up win, 3-1-1 against AFC teams, 11-4 in November, 5-2 in Monday games, 5-2-1 overall, 11-5-1 against teams with winning records, and 72-33-2 after gaining more than 350 total yards. The Patriots are 22-10-1 ATS against the Bills recently.

Buffalo plays better on the road but New England is the best team in the league. It is amazing how the Patriots keep dealing with injuries and stay successful. I like the Patriots to win at home by a comfortable margin.

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