Boy, nothing sounds less fun than betting against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the month of December. But this line is too high given the situation for both teams.
Buffalo is fighting for its playoff life; as mentioned above, the Ravens have two easy matchups to try and secure a wild-card berth. The Bills can win out to finish 10-6 and all but guarantee a playoff berth — if they only win one game to close out the season, they will put themselves in danger of missing the playoffs via a tiebreaker. That might not mean they can simply beat the Pats in New England late in the year, of course, but this is not that bad a matchup for them considering the circumstances. The Bills have LeSean McCoy running the ball very well, and the Patriots have the worst rush defense by DVOA. Buffalo should be able to move the ball.
The Patriots are not going to be interested in trying to score 40 points here, not with the No. 1 seed in the AFC all but secure with victories over Buffalo and the Jets. Rob Gronkowski is not going over the middle for a bunch of receptions when his health is paramount for the postseason. This is a game where the Pats want to melt clock and get out of dodge with everyone healthy. Maybe this is the Mike Gillislee revenge game if (when) he’s finally active.
The Patriots haven’t been carried by Tom Brady in recent weeks. The running game and receiving corps have battled through some injury hits, and the defense has scraped to keep things in reach of victory. New England is more gritty than pretty now, which is perfect for this time of year. Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy are hot, but they’ll be cooled off in this rematch.
PICK: Patriots win 30-14 and cover the spread.
The Dolphins are hanging by a thread in the AFC wild-card race, while the Chiefs have their groove back in the West. Kansas City win its division in style here by keeping it simple with Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill, and the defense will have another strong game against the pass vs. Jay Cutler.
PICK: Chiefs win 27-13 and cover the spread.
The Chargers avoided major offensive injuries in the ugly loss at Kansas City, and with some extra time, Philip Rivers will be ready to let it rip again and forget about that INT fest against the Chiefs. There’s no good matchup for the Jets’ offense against the Chargers’ defense, either.
PICK: Chargers win 24-10 and cover the spread.