New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills (-4.5, 43.5)
January 15, 2022
8:15pm EST on CBS
Saturday night playoff football!!! It doesn’t get any better than AFC east division rivals facing each other for the third time in 40 days. A trip to the divisional round of the playoffs is on the line as the New England Patriots head to Highmark Stadium to face the Buffalo Bills. Expected temperatures hover around 4 degrees at the 8:15pm Eastern time / 5:15pm Pacific time kickoff. The teams split the regular season matchups going 1-1, with each team stealing a victory on the opponent’s home field. You can expect this to be an absolute battle, with New England needing to win in the trenches while Buffalo attempts to use their athletic ability to make big plays on the outside.
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Let’s look at how the first two games played out. The first matchup on December 6th was a ground and pound game with tons of snow and ridiculously high winds. The Patriots ate up time of possession with 46 run plays and a historically low 3 pass attempts. The Bills attempted to use Josh Allen’s arm strength in the extreme wind, throwing 30 passes to only 25 rush attempts. The Bills leading rusher, as has been the case several times this season, was QB Josh Allen with 6 carries for 39 yards. The Patriots defense shut them down in a 14-10 win. The most recent game came during week 16 (December 26th) and it was a different story. The Bills offense looked prolific, outgaining New England 428 to 288 in total yards. Josh Allen produced 314 passing yards to go along with 12 carries for 64 yards. The Patriots uncharacteristic 2 turnovers were the difference maker in a 33-21 loss.
So where can we find value in the upcoming matchup? Look no further than Bill Belichick’s history. He almost always manages to take away the opponent’s best player and strengths. Throughout this season, the Bills offense has been hit or miss. They’ve had an obvious struggle finding consistency all year, forcing Josh Allen to try and scramble to create plays. He averaged 44.8 rushing yds/game this season. However, in his 7 career starts against New England, he averages only 37.1 rushing yds/game. We can expect to see some sort of a spy linebacker and/or creative pass rush scheme all game tracking Allen as he escapes the pocket. The Patriots game plan is going to consist of managing the game – we look to see a lot of effective run plays mixed with short completions by Mac Jones. They will eat up clock and try to keep the ball out of Allen’s hands. Expect Allen to be forced to pass into tight windows and have limited running room. Allen’s O/U for rushing yards is currently inflated due to recent success. This has increased the average line by about 10 yards (35 yds/game up to 45 yds/game). Regression towards the mean is very likely given the matchup and Patriots playoff caliber defense coming his way. They are going to shut him down.
Take Josh Allen UNDER 45.5 rushing yds.