The AFC East will take center stage when the Bills and Patriots collide for this week’s installment of Sunday Night Football on ESPN.
Buffalo comes in at 3-4 (SU & ATS) overall, including a spotless 0-3 (SU & ATS) when on the road. The Bills 31st rated offense has been “offensive" to say the least, while the defensive results are a mixed bag.
There are subtle signs of brighter times to come, however, as Buffalo is 2-1 (SU & ATS) since Holcomb took over at QB for the ineffective Losman. The Bills had scored just 25 total points in their three games leading up to the switch, yet has produced 50 points on offense in their latest three tilts.
Holcomb has actually led the Bills to a touchdown on the opening drive in all three of his starts and is completing 72.2 percent of his pass attempts with a 5/2 – TD/INT ratio. Note further that WR Eric Moulds has 18 catches in the Bills past three games compared to just 12 catches his previous four games with Losman at the helm.
The increased production in the pass game has in turn opened up the run for Willis McGahee. The former Miami Hurricane standout is third in the AFC with 654 rushing yards this year.
Even with the improved offensive output, a major knock on the Bills lies in their strength of opposition and caliber of wins. That is, Buffalo’s three wins this year have all come at home and were all vs. teams with losing records. The Bills beat the 2-5 Jets two weeks ago, the 2-4 Dolphins the week prior and upended the 0-6 Texans on opening day.
Meanwhile, the Bills were outgained by 171 yards in their loss at Tampa Bay and then outgained by 194 yards in their 24-16 home loss to Atlanta. BUF was then outgained by 125 yards in its 19-7 loss at the semi-neutral Alamo Dome vs. the Saints and outgained by 206 yards at Oakland last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Pats come in at 3-3 (SU & ATS) overall and 1-1 (SU & ATS) at home. Unlike their division counterpart tonight, the Patriots have faced a rough and tumble early schedule.
New England’s six opponents include Denver, Atlanta, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Oakland. The collective record of these teams is 23-16 (SU) this season, while four of the six are playoff teams from last year. Nevertheless, New England does have some noticeable deficiencies.
The Patriots already have lost more games than all of last season mostly the result of shoddy defense. Belichick’s heralded stop unit has allowed 164 points this season and resides at 26th in the NFL overall. The retirement of linebacker Ted Johnson, along with injuries to safety Rodney Harrison, cornerbacks Tyrone Poole, Randall Gay and Duane Starks and lineman Richard Seymour have left the Pats dangerously thin.
The upshot is that New England has turned its focus to offense. Tom Brady is averaging 295.5 yards passing per game, which is 2nd best in the NFL overall. The Pats are additionally 3rd in the NFL in total yards per game and have been “razor sharp" against the number at Gillette Stadium.
New England, in fact, is now 16-3 ATS its past nineteen as home chalk. Brady and Co. have also been extremely resilient with a perfect 6-0 (ATS) record their past six following a loss. Note further that the Pats are 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS their past nine series meetings with Buffalo having won the past two tilts at this site by a combined count of 60-6!
All said, the fundamental and technical argument is all New England. But the pointspread seemingly reflects as much, which makes Buffalo the choice for value players. Good luck!
William Foote is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com/William_Foote.htm