NFL Picks: Buffalo Bills vs. Las Vegas Raiders Predictions
- Raiders games in 2020 have averaged 59.3 total points. Bills games have averaged 56.7.
Buffalo travels across the country to take on the Raiders, and this game should be more exciting than we may have expected coming into the 2020 season. The Bills in particular have taken to the air far more often early in 2020 than expected.
Early-down pass percentage is a good way of getting at this, because late down run/pass splits are heavily influenced by the distance to go to achieve a first down. Ben Baldwin of The Athletic noted this week the Bills have thrown 10 percentage points more frequently on early downs than what would be expected based on the circumstances of their various plays, including the score of their games and time remaining. That makes them the second most likely team to throw on early downs, relative to expectation, in the entire league. Coming into the season, this looked like a slow-paced team that would try to win through ball control and defense, but the addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs this offseason has unlocked quarterback Josh Allen and turned this into a team that wants to be aggressive.
The Raiders have chosen to throw on early downs relatively close to expectation. That also would be higher than expectation, at least for me, because I thought this also would be a team running more heavily than their game situations would dictate. Some of that may be impacted by Josh Jacobs being a bit banged up over the past two weeks, and the Bills as a defense have allowed the highest success rate against on rushing plays. So I do expect we’ll see plenty of Jacobs this week, but that’s a plus matchup for the Raiders offense, and one that should help them stay on schedule.
The Raiders have also allowed a particularly high success rate to opposing rushers, while both defenses have been slightly better than average in success rate against the pass. That might mean a little more of a rush lean from both offenses in this one, which does tend to slow games down and reduce point-scoring chances. But both Buffalo and Las Vegas have top-10 success rates as passing offenses, and as noted they are looking for situations to throw. I don’t expect either will completely abandon the passing game, so if we expect both to be successful when running, you're left with two offenses that look to be at an advantage this week.
That’s a big reason why the total has risen to 52.5 and counting. I’m still taking the over. I like the Bills to win this one, but their defense has been enough of an issue that while their offense has played well, they’ve squeaked out high-scoring three-point victories each of the past two weeks. That makes the -3.5 line a tough one. But if Buffalo does play well on offense early, as I expect, that will push the Raiders to keep pace.
So far this season, the Bills and Raiders have combined for just one game that has failed to go over 55 total points. That was the Bills’ Week 1 victory over the Jets, which still hit 44 combined points despite New York’s offensive ineptitude. I’m expecting another high-scoring game here, with the Bills continuing their aggressive ways on the road. The Raiders should be able to answer with some points on their end, even if that's through riding Jacobs on the ground, and that means this game should continue the early-season pattern we've seen of plenty of scoring across the NFL.
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NFL Expert Picks
PICK: Over 52.5 @ -110
NFL Free Picks
We enter the fourth week of the NFL season with a blockbuster week featuring some enticing games. OddsChecker's crack team of handicappers, Ben Rolfe, Davis Mattek and Ben Gretch will be covering the very best games, including all of the primetime games.