Opening Lines: Week 16

Patriots Open as 8-Point Favorites in Buffalo

The Patriots opened at -8 in their Week 16 matchup in Buffalo against the Bills.

The Pats squeaked out a hard-earned win last week in a game that everyone not named Derek Hanson thought would be a blowout (to be fair, Derek Hanson is a pretty common name, so there may have been a few guys named Derek Hanson who also thought this game would be a blowout). It wasn’t pretty, but it still counts as a win. Watching the game was like having a buddy set you up on a date with a famous and beautiful musician, and it ends up being the girl that sings the Christmas carols in those Hyundai commercials. Not exactly what you were expecting, but the result doesn’t make you throw up in your mouth.

If there is any consolation from last week’s sloppy win, it’s the fact that gamblers will get a better line on the Patriots against the Bills this week. (as an aside, how spoiled have we become that people like me actually find themselves complaining about the margin of victory over other playoff contenders? I may be in danger of becoming just as bad as a common Colts fan *shudder*) The Pats won by 8 when these two teams met in Week 3. However, that was back in the day when the Patriots were still throwing deep to Randy Moss every third play. If memory serves, they were playing with leather helmets, Steve Grogan was our QB and Coach Belichick may have been struggling to invent the wheel. You get my drift.

The offense should have no trouble putting points on the board again this week. Only eight teams have given up more passing TDs than the Bills this season, and they are last in the league against the run. The Pats have put up 30+ points in six straight games, and it would be a major surprise if they didn’t add to that streak against the Bills. The Buffalo offense has failed to reach 20 points in seven of their last eight games. While the Bills have given the Pats a few scares over the years, New England has still beaten Buffalo in each of their last 14 meetings. The Patriots will be playing to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs; the Bills will be playing for the right to avoid a higher draft pick. I like New England’s motivation a bit more.

The over/under for this game is set at 44, which seems more than a bit low considering these two teams put up a combined total of 68 in the first meeting. Neither of these defenses are elite, so I’d be a bit surprised if they didn’t cover this number in the third quarter.

I would back the Patriots to cover the spread, and if the weather in Buffalo doesn’t look too hairy, I’d dive on the over like Miley Cyrus on a salvia bong.

Other Lines I Like This Week

Ravens (-3) at Browns

I really don’t think I have a love affair with home dogs. Honest. The Browns played the Ravens tough when these two teams met in Week 3, but they have not played a great game since beating New England. Consecutive losses to 2-win teams (Cincy and Buffalo) have this team on a downswing. Baltimore has a lot more to play for in this game.

Chiefs (-5) vs. Titans

On average, Tennessee’s opponents have an 8-minute edge in time of possession edge, easily the largest disparity in the league. At the risk of sounding like John Madden, it’s hard to score if you don’t have the ball. KC plays tough at home, and I expect Thomas Jones, Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel to play an effective game of keep-away on Sunday.

2010 Record ATS 16-15-1