The New England Patriots (5-2) and the Buffalo Bills (2-5) square off in the Week 8 edition of Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m., ESPN). The Patriots were installed as 13.5-point favorites, the second-highest line in the history of Monday Night Football (behind only themselves, when they were favored by 19 points in Baltimore in 2007 and won by just a field goal). The betting total is 44 points.
New England’s offense has been an unstoppable force of late, scoring at least 38 points in four straight games. Tom Brady has completed 70.7 percent of his throws during that span, amassing an average of 308 passing yards. And the Patriots’ backfield has run for over 138 yards per game during this four-game winning streak. New England has gone through running backs this season like Spinal Tap went through drummers, but offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is confident in James White, who will likely receive the bulk of the carries with Sony Michel ailing.
“Credit goes to James White,” McDaniels told the AP on Friday. “He’s the one that runs the routes, he’s the one that makes decisions and cuts in the backfield if you’re handing it to him, and he’s the one that catches the ball wherever you put him on the field.”
Buffalo has done well defending the pass this season (4th in the NFL by yards per game), but they have been vulnerable to the run (16th by yards per game). Just last week they were carved up by Marlon Mack and the Colts to the tune of 220 yards in a 37-5 slaughter.
The Bills’ offense simply can’t be counted on to hang with New England. They’re the worst in the league in points per game (11.57) as well as yards per play (3.93). A dinged-up Derek Anderson has few weapons around him, and his halfbacks are all hurting. LeSean McCoy was still in concussion protocol as of Friday, while Chris Ivory is nursing a hamstring injury.
The Patriots have trended positively in spots like this, covering seven straight times when favored by two touchdowns or more, and are 11-2-1 against the spread in their last 14 games with Buffalo. They’re also 15-5 against the spread in their last 20 road games. Though this number is colossal, it’s hard to build a case for the Bills covering on Monday night.
Finally, though Buffalo’s offense is anemic, the Over (44) looks like a solid play. New England should nearly cover the number on their own, and their defense is just 20th in points per game allowed this season.
Prediction: Patriots win, 41-14
The play: Patriots -13.5, Patriots vs. Bills Over 44