Patriots at Bills Picks and Week 1 NFL Odds
by Alan Matthews - 6/7/2013
Arguably the most lopsided rivalry in the NFL is between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, who kick off the 2013 season against one another in a 1 p.m. start Sept. 8 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. Any true Bills fan will remember well the date Sept. 25, 2011. That day in Buffalo, Bills kicker Rian Lindell hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired for a 34-31 Bills win. They overcame a 21-0 second-quarter deficit thanks in part to four Tom Brady interceptions. It ended Buffalo's 15-game losing streak to the Patriots.
Things have been downhill for Buffalo since. That club started 3-0 in 2011, and at 5-2 looked like it might finally be a playoff team. The Bills also shelled out big bucks to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick despite a small sample size. It was a gigantic mistake. Buffalo would close that season losing eight of nine. Last year wasn't much better, with Buffalo going 6-10 and missing the playoffs for the 13th straight season, the longest streak in the NFL. Fitzpatrick was cut in March despite getting that six-year, $59 million deal in October 2011. He was 20-33 overall as a starter and now is a backup to Jake Locker in Tennessee.
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It's the same old, same old for New England. The Pats won double-digit games last year for the 10th straight year and easily won the AFC East again. Pretty much everyone expects them to in 2013 as well.
Patriots at Bills Betting Story Lines
Buffalo was a big player in free agency before last season and signed the big-ticket item: former Houston linebacker/defensive end Mario Williams to a $100 million deal. He wasn't a total flop but really wasn't a difference-maker with 10.5 sacks. Nearly half of those came in two games, and he only forced two fumbles. Oh, and he was publicly embarrassed this offseason when his former fiancee said Williams contemplated suicide after they broke up -- this was made public because Williams is suing her to get back the $785,000 engagement ring (as would I!).
I frankly see no way the Bills are any good again this year. They have maybe the best 1-2 punch in the NFL at running back in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Stevie Johnson is a good receiver. But that's about it on offense. Did I mention they gave Kevin Kolb a two-year, $13 million deal to presumably be their starting quarterback? The same Kevin Kolb who couldn't stay healthy in Arizona and stunk when he did? Yes, the Bills took Florida State's E.J. Manuel in the first round of this year's draft (shockingly), but he's so raw I doubt Manuel sees the field in 2013 barring injury or at the end of the season when Buffalo is eliminated from the playoffs yet again. New coach Doug Marrone, formerly of Syracuse, definitely has his work cut out for him.
New England is New England. Overall the roster actually doesn't look all that great, to be honest, but Brady's brilliance masks everything. The Pats also probably can't count on Rob Gronkowski to do much in 2013 as he has had like five surgeries in the past year. Fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez also had offseason surgery and can't stay healthy, either. Who is Brady supposed to throw to with Wes Welker now in Denver? The Pats better hope he can make Danny Amendola a star. If anyone can, it's probably Brady.
The Pats haven't lost to Buffalo since that September 2011 day. The two met in Buffalo in Week 4 last year, and the Pats won 52-28 as 3.5-point favorites. New England was down 21-7 early in the second quarter and then casually scored six straight touchdowns. Brady was 22-of-36 for 340 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for one as the Pats put up 580 yards of offense. New England's 45 points in the second half were the most in franchise history and most by a trailing team at halftime in 62 years. Fitzpatrick became the first QB in Bills history to throw four touchdown passes and four interceptions in one game. The last QB to do that in the NFL? Brady in that 2011 loss to Buffalo.
New England beat the visiting Bills 37-31 in Foxboro in Week 10 last year as a 13.5-point favorite. Buffalo had a team-record 35 first downs and should have won if not for three turnovers and 14 penalties. Buffalo drove to the New England 15 in the final seconds, but Fitzpatrick threw a pick in the end zone.
Patriots at Bills Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, New England is a seven-point favorite -- tied for the second-biggest spread of Week 1 behind Denver -8.5 against Baltimore -- with the total at 53. That total is also the second-biggest of the opening week behind the 54 on Falcons at Saints. The Patriots were 9-7 ATS last season (5-3 on road) and 11-5 “over/under” (5-3 on road). The Bills were 7-9 ATS (4-4 at home) and 8-8 O/U (5-3 at home). Buffalo was at least a seven-point dog twice in 2012 and was 1-2 ATS. New England was at least a touchdown favorite nine times and was 4-5 ATS.
Patriots at Bills Picks and Betting Predictions
Like I said above, I believe the Pats are definitely a bit overrated this year. I do think Buffalo can keep it close by pounding Spiller and Jackson and not letting Kolb do much other than hand off. I honestly think this will be a push. If it gets to 7.5, I'd jump on Buffalo. Under seven, I'd take the Pats. Go under.
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