Rex Ryan's retooled Buffalo Bills appear to be a legitimate threat to New England's domination of the AFC East and the NFL odds makers are making this battle in Buffalo a coin flip.
Unstoppable Force vs. Immovable Object
What this comes down to is the Patriots' offensive juggernaut, led by one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever command the gridiron, versus one of the most relentless defenses in the league. It's actually even more than that for Bills' head coach Rex Ryan. Ryan has hunted, stalked and obsessed over the Patriots since he began toiling as a head coach in the AFC East back in 2009 with the New York Jets. The Patriots have become Ryan's White Whale.
While it is prudent to review recent history between opponents it is virtually irrelevant in this case. We have a brand new head coach and a newly minted quarterback for the Bills while New England has lost two key components on defense in Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis. Buffalo also landed themselves a premier running back in LeSean McCoy and what appears to be a pivotal complement in the backfield in fifth-round pick Karlos Williams who took his first carry 26 yards into the Indianapolis endzone on Sunday. In addition, and a very important addition it is, the Bills appear to have secured themselves a legitimate quarterback in Tyrod Taylor.
Based on what we saw in Week 1 I am not sure the Patriots run defense will be able to properly defend the rush that Buffalo will bring early and often on Sunday. That ground-and-pound attack will set up the passing game which includes Percy Harvin and Sammy Watkins. I liken the Pats defense to the Colts' which means there's just not much to it except, in the case of the Patriots, a solid linebacking corps. New England exhibited very little pass rush or penetration last week and were bullied by Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams throughout the evening.
What Do the Numbers Say?
Here are a few stats for those who are prone to betting trends and what the NFL odds say about those trends:
Buffalo is 7-1 ATS in their last eight games a home underdog.
Buffalo is 5-1 ATS in their last six games vs. AFC opponents.
Buffalo is 6-1 ATS in their last seven games overall.
Patriots are 1-4 ATS in their last five games in September.
Patriots are 1-4 ATS in their last five versus AFC opponents.
Patriots are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games as a road favorite.
While I submit to you that New England's offense is difficult to ignore as is their 10 day rest and preparation time leading up to this game, I firmly believe that the Bills are in a prime spot to impose their defensive will. While no one expects Tom Terrific to stay off of the scorer's sheet it may be difficult for even New England's vaunted offense to absolve their defense of its sins as they are certain to get used and abused by a resurgent Buffalo ground attack complemented by a solid signal caller.
As the season progresses so too will New England's defense because we know that Bill Belichick tunes, tweaks and adjusts better than anyone in the history of the game. But for now, in Week 2, I will cast my week 2 NFL pick with the Buffalo Bills at home in front of a frenzied crowd of rabid fans who are suddenly enjoying football again.
NFL Pick: Bills +1 ½ (-115) at Bovada.com