New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills: Odds, Predictions and Preview (NFL Week 8)

In this battle of the AFC East, the first-place 5-2 New England Patriots travel to New York to take on the last-place 2-5 Buffalo Bills.

The Patriots, who have won their last four matchups in a row, are coming off a Week 7 defeat of the Chicago Bears, 38-31, a game that included two picks by their defense and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Cordarrelle Patterson.  The Pats had to play that one without their All-Pro Pro-Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, who sat out the game when his ongoing back injury flared up.

Quarterback Tom Brady is now officially in peak form, the GOAT able to score at will against the Bears’ 12th ranked defense who kept the game tight right to the very end. New England’s top-ten offense can attack on the ground and in the air, and against the Bills they’ll do it with Gronk, who has practiced with the team starting Thursday and is expected to play in Buffalo.

The Bills are not having a good season, their Week 7 results a perfect example of their ongoing struggles. Buffalo got pummelled by the struggling Indianapolis Colts 5-37, their rookie quarterback Josh Allen not even playing due to a hyperextended elbow. He’s listed as week-to-week, not a good sign for a team searching for a leader.

Things don’t look any better for this Week 8 matchup, with Bills backup quarterback Derek Anderson having limited practice this week (back/calf) and running back LeSean McCoy in concussion protocol. Buffalo will have to hope their top-five defense can keep them in the game against a New England team that looks ready for yet another Super Bowl run.

If the Patriots win this matchup, they’ll move to 6-2 and stay firmly atop the AFC East. But if the Bills come out on top, they’ll  be 3-5 and begin to give the 3-4 New York Jets something to think about.

Who’s favored to win this Week 8 Patriots-Bills matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Patriots and the Bills and attempt to answer those questions and more.

The 2018 Patriots offense firing on all cylinders

Not only is Brady in mid-season form, throwing the ball for an average of 268.0 yards per game (ranked 12th) for 16 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, his various offensive weapons are now all starting and on the same page of head coach Bill Belichik’s scary and effective playbook.

Slot receiver Julian Edelman, who returned in Week 5 after serving a four-game suspension and sitting out all of 2017 with a torn ACL, is the perfect counterpoint to deep threat Josh Gordon, who the team picked up from the Browns for a fifth-round draft pick. Add to that mix the virtually un-tackle-able Gronkowski, and Brady has a group of ball-catchers who can snag the ball from anywhere on the field.

When you throw in the Patriots two-headed rushing attack of rookie Sony Michel and veteran James White, who run the ball an average of 120.9 yards on the ground per game, it’s hard to imagine the Bills stopping the Patriots’ offense despite having a top-five ranked defense to pit against them. Michel, however, did not participate in practice this week (knee) and is listed as questionable for Week 8.

The 2018 Bills offense not good AND injured

The Buffalo Bills’ offense will have to do its best just to start eleven uninjured players. Get ready to watch third-stringer Nathan Peterman play quarterback now that Allen and Anderson are healing their various injuries. Not good news for Bills fans, who can’t have much faith in Peterman, the second-year player who had a tough time filling in for the injured Tyrod Taylor during their historic 2017 one-game playoff run.

The Bills running back room is also suffering the injury bug, with McCoy (concussion), Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Taiwan Jones (neck) all listed as questionable. It’ll be up to backup Marcus Murphy to step up and breathe life into a Bills rushing attack that, with the starters playing, ranked 19th overall.

Buffalo receivers Zay Jones, Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Charles Clay will face New England’s 25th ranked passing defense, but chances are it won’t be easy to connect with Peterman, who has seen (very) limited action in 2018.

Patriots Defense ranks 25th in the league, Bills D ranks 4th

New England’s current weak-spot has to be their defense, a squad that allows opponents to score 25.6 points per game despite grabbing 10 total interceptions (T-4th most) and getting called for only 43 penalties (T-12th).

Besides allowing opponents to feel like they’re always in the game, two of the Patriots’ defense other problem areas are sacks – they’ve only managed to take down opponents’ quarterbacks 9 times (ranked 31st) – and third-down conversions – they’ve let opponents convert 45.1 percent of them (ranked) 27th. They’ll get to raise those stats against a Bills offense that’s ranked 31st in a league of 32.

 The bright spot of the Bills’ 2018 season has to be their top-five defense, who are ranked fourth against the pass but 16th against the run. They are also pretty banged-up, with linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and defensive tackle Kyle Williams not participating in practice this week in order to ‘rest’. Defensive end Trent Murphy (knee) also didn’t participate in practice.

The Bills defense keeps opponents to an average of 25 points per game (ranked 17th) and have intercepted 5 passes (T-18th) and sacked opposing quarterbacks 19 times. Defensive end Jerry Hughes has 4.5 of those sacks himself (T-21st) while defensive tackle Kyle Williams has 3.5 sacks of his own. But Brady has only been sacked 9 times this season (T-29th), so it will be tough for the Bills to add more.

Special Teams Stats Comparison

New England’s punter, Ryan Allen, has been a Patriot all six of his NFL years and has punted 25 times but for a net average of 39.1 yards per punt, ranked 18th in the NFL.

Buffalo’s punter, Corey Bojorquez, who was picked up on waivers from the Patriots in September, has punted 40 times for a net average of 40.3 yards per punt, ranked 14th in the NFL.

New England’s veteran placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who has spent all 13 of his NFL seasons as a Patriot, is 13-for-14, his longest was a 50-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (25/25).

Buffalo’s veteran placekicker, Stephen Hauschka, a free agent pickup this offseason from Seattle who has been in the league since 2008, has gone 10-for-11, his longest was a 52-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (7/7).

New England’s punt returner, wide receiver Julian Edelman, is ranked 42nd in the league in return average. He’s returned 4 punts for 23 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.8 yards per return, his longest was for 15 yards.

Buffalo’s punt returner, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, is ranked 47th in the league. He’s returned 4 punts for 20 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 5.0 yards per return, his longest for 13 yards.

Patriots–Bills prediction and odds

The oddsmakers have the Patriots favored over the Bills by 14 with an over/under of 44.0.

CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:

Pete Prisco goes with the under and has it Patriots 31, Bills 10

John Breech takes the over and predicts it Patriots 31, Bills 17