Thursday Night Football Betting: Our Model Likes the Patriots Against the Bills
Thursday Night Football hasn't produced a ton of great matchups for us this season, but we could be treated to an absolute doozy tonight as two of the league's top teams will square off. The Buffalo Bills travel for an AFC East matchup to Boston to face the New England Patriots.
According to our nERD metric, the Bills rank 2nd while the Pats sit 11th. This is a pivotal matchup in a tight AFC East.
If you are like me and still recovering from Thanksgiving like I am, let's analyze what could be some interesting betting angles for the game.
Breaking It Down
If the Patriots are going to have any shot of winning this division, they are going to need far better quarterback play out of Mac Jones. Using Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back as our first measuring stick, Jones has really struggled so far this season, clocking in with a mark of -0.01 on the year. He's the eighth-worst quarterback in the league by this metric (among high-volume passers).
On the flip side, Josh Allen continues chugging along at an excellent rate of efficiency. His clip of 0.21 Passing NEP per drop back ranks him sixth-best in the league. By our numbers, the Bills rank as a top-five offense overall and clock inside the top 10 in terms of both the pass and the run. New England, meanwhile, ranks only 27th in the league offensively.
While the Bills have showcased a strong rushing attack thanks to some help from Allen, the efficiency Devin Singletary has been lacking quite a bit. Singletary has posted a Rushing NEP per rush of -0.04, the sixth-worst number among those with at least 100 carries this season. Allen, however, has already recorded 561 rushing yards and five scores this year.
The Patriots don't have much to highlight on the ground game. Jones is not a running quarterback, and Rhamondre Stevenson lands smack in the middle of road in terms of Rushing NEP per carry (0.02) over 151 attempts this season.
Where New England thrives is on defense. Our metrics rank the Pats as the league's top overall D -- second-best against both the run and the pass. They will present a stiff challenge tonight for Allen, who has been in a little funk of late with seven picks over his past five games.
The Betting Numbers
The Bills are 3.5-point road favorites, and the total is 43.5 points.
Our projections see some value in backing Bill Belichick and the Pats. We actually see the Patriots winning this game outright, albeit by a very narrow margin (23.6 to 22.5). We give the Patriots a 66.5% to cover the spread, making it a three-star wager (three-unit recommendation). Buffalo is only 1-4 against the spread (ATS) in their last five games.
The public doesn't fall in line. On the spread, 73% of the cash and 80% of bets are backing the Bills.
We also have a lean on the total, giving the over a 58% chance to win out. However, neither team has been a great bet for the over in 2022. The over has hit just three times in Buffalo's games this season while it is 5-6 in Pats' contests.
In the prop market, I hate being a wet blanket and betting unders, but I don't like the Devin Singletary rushing prop whatsoever. While being slight favorites could equal a positive game script for Singletary's rushing yards (51.5, -110 on the under), the Patriots have not allowed a single rusher to break 50 yards in any of the past three games. Singletary has yet to top 20 carries this season, and he's bested 50 rushing yards only three times in 10 games.