All the early money is on the New England Patriots.
That’s why the Buffalo Bills are now 3.5-point favorites at home instead of -4.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook heading into Saturday’s AFC Wild Card game of the NFL playoffs, director of race and sportsbook Johnny Avello told PlayNY.
The Bills are still -4.5 at FanDuel, Caesars and BetRivers — at the moment.
“I don’t think there’s much difference to set a line for a matchup that hasn’t occurred compared to one that has already happened twice,” Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars, said in a statement.
“Maybe it’s a little easier, but these teams have ratings and people use those for the lines no matter how many times they’ve played. It definitely adds to the analysis when you have two games to go by, it just depends what adjustments are made.”
The weather in Buffalo is going to be chilly, projected 15 degrees when the game kicks off at 8:15 p.m.
Let’s take a bigger look at the matchup.
New England Patriots: Relying on rookie QB on road
The Bills (11-6) were just 7-6 following consecutive losses to New England and Tampa Bay, but finished out the regular season by winning four in a row to take the AFC East division title for the second straight year.
Meanwhile, the Patriots (10-7) dropped three of their final four games of the 2021 campaign to finish in second.
Buffalo and New England split their two regular-season matchups, with the road team taking each.
Bill Belichick faces a tough challenge with a rookie QB, Mac Jones, heading into his first-ever playoff game. But if there’s anyone who can get the most out of a first-year signal-caller in the postseason, it’s Belichick (see Brady, Tom).
That said, in two games against the Bills this year, Jones did not fare well. In fact, two of the quarterback’s three lowest-output games came against Buffalo. In those two games, Jones combined for 164 yards and two interceptions on 46% passing. That includes the not-so-stellar Dec. 6 matchup when Jones completed two of three passes for 19 yards. To be fair, that game featured 40 mph winds; Saturday’s forecast called for more moderate 10 mph gusts.
Buffalo Bills: Staunch defense could carry Bills far
Defensively, Buffalo can make life difficult for Jones. The Bills surrendered both the fewest points and yards per game in the NFL this season. Granted, the Patriots rank second and fourth in both categories, respectively. The over-under for total points is .
Josh Allen (36 TD, 15 INT), on the other hand, closed out his regular season with a strong performance against the Jets. But he’s certainly been shaky at times — including a three-interception nightmare game against Atlanta on Jan. 2. Allen is 2-2 in his playoff career.
There is significant pressure on the Bills to make it out of the AFC after they lost to the Chiefs in the conference championship last year.
And it would be pretty massive for them to appear in the Feb. 13 Super Bowl after legal online sports betting in New York just launched on Saturday.