After an unprecedented week across the NFL, football has rightfully taken a back seat to Damar Hamlin's health and well-being. But, as the league has decided to go forward with Week 18 as scheduled, football will be played.
That means the New England Patriots (+7.5) will travel north to Buffalo for a matchup against Hamlin's Bills. A win for the Patriots would punch their ticket to the playoffs, but the odds are stacked against them as they currently are a 7.5-point underdog. In New England's last nine games, the favorite has won every game outright.
Road games have favored New England's offense more this season, however. In their last six games on the road, the Patriots have averaged 26.8 points compared to just 16.8 points in their last six played in Foxboro. They will hope that trend continues in Buffalo as the point total sits at 43.5 on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Here are our favorite bets for the Patriots' regular season finale.
Back in the Week 13 matchup against the Bills, New England's offense struggled mightily. In fact, while much of the attention is focused on Josh Allen vs. New England's defense, the Patriots offense has been consistently challenged by Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier's defense of late.
In their four matchups with Mac Jones under center - including the Monday Night wind game - New England has averaged just 15.5 points against Buffalo. As for Jones, he averages just under 148 passing yards per game (190.66 not including the wind game).
For as much as New England needs their defense to slow down Josh Allen and Co., they need Mac Jones and their offense to put points up on the board. The Week 13 game plan of working the quick game clearly did not work as the Patriots scored just 10 points. The frustrations from Jones were visible.
Since that contest, the Patriots offense has been more aggressive downfield. After recording just one big time throw and a 6.5 average depth of target in the first matchup against Buffalo, Jones has recorded 10 big time throws with a 9.5 aDot over his last four games, via Pro Football Focus. If New England wants a fighting chance in this matchup, they need to live and die by letting Jones air it out - especially if they find themselves in an early hole.
The pick: Mac Jones Over 213.5 passing yards (-115)
Through all of Josh Allen's awesomeness, he still is vulnerable. Allen is tied with Matt Ryan for the most turnovers from any QB this season (18), while his 13 interceptions are tied for second-most in the league.
The Patriots path to creating turnovers could be easy on Sunday: lean on their potent pass rush. In their past few matchups, New England has allowed Allen to have too much time to operate in the pocket as they seem to be worried about him making plays with his legs. If they want a true shot against the Bills in Week 18, they need to turn up the heat.
While under pressure this season, Allen is tied for first in turnover worthy plays with 15. Over their past few matchups, Allen has even come close to throwing multiple interceptions but New England's defensive backs were not able to haul them in. With Christian Barmore back and playing well, look for the Patriots pass rush to make things difficult for Allen and the secondary to finally capitalize.
The pick: Josh Allen Over 0.5 interceptions (-110)
Bills' tight end Dawson Knox has been red-hot as of late, scoring touchdowns in Buffalo's last three games and seeing 20 total targets - his most in a three game stretch all season. But, he'll face an uphill battle against New England's defense this week that's allowed just over 40 passing yards per game to tight ends.
Back in Week 13 against New England, Knox led all of Buffalo's skill players with 63 snaps and was tied for first with 33 routes run. However, he only drew one target as Josh Allen targeted his top-two receivers often and continuously took the profit with eight attempts to his running backs. Knox finished with zero receptions. As New England will likely continue to play a large amount of zone defense to force things underneath, Knox could be in for another quiet matchup.
The pick: Dawson Knox Under 38.5 receiving yards (-110)
In Damien Harris' return to action last week, New England was able to manage Rhamondre Stevenson's workload as Harris played 29 snaps to Stevenson's 34, while out-carrying him 9-to-8. Harris turned out 12 total touches for 49 yards in that playing time.
The back also recorded the most goal-line carries of the bunch, but came up just short of finding the end zone. We're picking him again this week to find the end zone, as he's scored at least once in three of his last four games against Buffalo.
The pick: Damien Harris Anytime TD Scorer (+350)
Bill vs. Bills
It's impossible to predict how Buffalo's players, coaches, and everyone else inside the organization will handle a football game following last Monday's events. Additionally, following the NFL's schedule tweaks (which includes potential neutral site playoff games) and a potential Kansas City win on Saturday, Buffalo might not have too much to truly play for.
New England on the other hand has everything to play for. The Bills are clearly still a more talented football team, but the Patriots will not go down without a fight. If the pass rush can make things difficult on Allen, New England has a path to keeping this close. But with all the unknowns, we'll take the extra points in a teaser with the over - as seven of the Patriots last eight games in January have gone over the total point line.
The pick: Patriots +13.5 AND Over 37.5 (-120)