Monday Night Football Preview & Player Props: Bills at Patriots

Cam Newton of the New England Patriots
Cam Newton of the New England Patriots (photo credit: Imagn/USA TODAY Sports)

The last NFL game of Week 16 will serve as a passing of the torch as it were, as the 11-time defending AFC East champions, the New England Patriots, take on the team that has finally overtaken them in the division, the Buffalo Bills. The Bills vs. Patriots point spread has the Bills as full touchdown favorites on the road in this contest. In this Monday Night Football betting preview, we’ll break down the Bills vs. Patriots matchup from an NFL betting perspective and provide a few free picks for the game.

Buffalo Bills (-7) at New England Patriots

Monday, December 28, 2020, at 8:15 p.m. ET
Foxboro, MA
Gillette Stadium

Buffalo will look to hold on to the No. 2 overall seed in the AFC with a win. Meanwhile, the Patriots are in the rare position of trying to play spoiler late in the season, as their playoff hopes are over. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this matchup.

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Can the Patriots Pull It Off Again In Primetime?

If the Patriots being touchdown underdogs on Monday Night Football sounds familiar to you, it’s because this exact scenario played out in early November, when, at the time, the 3-5 Patriots were +7 against the then 6-2 Baltimore Ravens. In that game, Bill Belichick put on a coaching clinic, limiting Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to 17 points, in a huge 23-17 upset victory.

The scheme for tonight will have some similar aspects, as the Patriots will be dealing with a high-powered offense led by a mobile quarterback, this time Josh Allen.

The Bills have a much better passing attack than the Ravens, but that might not concern Belichick too much, as the strength of his defense is in defending the pass. New England ranks fifth in the league in passing yards allowed per game, while they are sixth from the bottom against the rush. It will be interesting to see how the Bills plan to attack this Patriots defense.

How Do the Bills Handle the Pressure?

We’ve talked about how the Patriots are in uncharted waters having been eliminated from playoff contention with two weeks left, but the Bills have a similar problem, albeit it at the opposite end of the spectrum. Sure the Bills made the playoffs last season, but New England still reigned supreme in the AFC East. Now, the Bills are in the unusual position of not only being the top dog in the division but being heavy road favorites against the former top dog, who surely will have a message to send that they will be back for their crown next season.

Allen has improved leaps and bounds this year, becoming a legitimate MVP contender, but he still has the tendency to make a few head-scratching throws. How many will he make tonight, and more importantly, will the Patriots defense make him pay?

Point Spread Pick: Patriots (+7)

Call this being stubborn. Call it being blinded by the lure of Belichick with nothing to lose and a message to send, but we are on board with the Patriots here. Even when they were playing poorly earlier in the season, the Patriots pushed the Bills to the end in Buffalo, ultimately losing out 24-21 after a late Cam Newton fumble.

We could see a similar scenario playing out tonight, with the Patriots hanging around enough to cover the full touchdown at home. This could easily blow up in our faces, as Newton has looked pretty terrible in the last month, but +7 for New England at home seems like it has to be the right side.

Cole Beasley Player Prop: Over 4.5 catches

One could easily argue that the key to the Bills’ success this year was the arrival of Stefon Diggs, not only because of the production he brought but the openings he has made for his fellow wide receivers. Cole Beasley has been arguably the biggest benefactor, as he is likely to cross the 1,000-yard mark tonight for the first time in his nine-year NFL career.

Beasley has been a target machine over the last five weeks, logging double-digit targets in all but one of those games. He only got two targets the last time these two played, but that looks more like an aberration given the rest of his work this season. Take the over on this Beasley player prop of 4.5 catches.

James White Player Prop: Under 13 rushing yards

Once one of the last mainstays of the Tom Brady-Belichick prime era, James White has often been an afterthought in games this season. He was never heavily involved in the running game as it was, and that has shown itself true again this season, as he has logged zero rushing yards in five different games this year. If the Patriots do fall behind early to the Bills here, that could be another likely outcome, so even though this number is low, you have to take it.

To make free player prop picks, check out the SharpSide sports betting app, available now for iOS and Android.

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