Monday Night Football Week 13 Preview and Prediction: Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots

Ben Gretch is back previewing and predicting Week 13's Monday Night Football matchup between the Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots.
Ben Gretch |
Sun, December 5, 11:42 AM EST | 4 min read
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Monday Night Football Week 13 Preview and Prediction: Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots

New England heads to Buffalo for a game with massive AFC East implications. Yet to have their bye, which will come in Week 14, New England sits atop the division at 8-4 and riding a six-game winning streak. The Bills are a half-game back at 7-4 and need this home win before heading to Tampa in Week 14, or they may find themselves two games back when they head to New England for a rematch in Week 16.

Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Monday, December 6, 2021

Game Time: 8:15 p.m ET

Where to Watch: ESPN/ ESPN2 With Mannings

  • Key Note: Sustained wind over 20 miles per hour is expected Monday night in Buffalo, with temperatures in the thirties and the potential for snow

Click Here For Bills vs Patriots Odds

Bills vs. Patriots Preview

Buffalo and the surrounding area are set to experience some lake effect weather Monday night, which will certainly impact this game. Winds are expected to be sustained over 20 miles per hour, with the potential for gusts up to 40 mph. That will have a profound impact on the passing and kicking games, and which team found success through the air was setting up to be a major storyline.

One key to New England’s six-game winning streak has been a pass defense that has ranked fourth in the NFL in success rate over that span, allowing no more than 240 passing yards to any of those six opponents. Another has been an efficient passing game that has also ranked fourth-best in offensive success rate in that timeframe. However, the Bills’ passing offense and passing defense have both been great as well, placing among the three teams that have been better over that span on both sides of the ball.

Passing efficiency tends to dictate success in the NFL, and this profiled as a matchup of strength on strength, though the Bills lost top cornerback Tre’Davious White in their last game. The weather may play to their advantage on that side of the ball, given White’s absence and a strong rush defense that has ranked seventh in success rate allowed over the past six weeks, but it will hurt them on offense. Even as Buffalo has had some offensive struggles at times, including a bizarre 9-6 loss to Jacksonville in Week 9, they’ve tended to lean heavily toward the pass, preferring to find answers through the air even as teams design their defenses around the two-high shells that have given Buffalo troubles.

Last season, the Bills blew away the Patriots in their second matchup, with Stefon Diggs going for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Still, by that point, New England’s season was all but over, with their defense particularly limited by opt-outs and injuries. Earlier in the season, though, when they met in Buffalo in a similarly windy game, the Bills opted to run the ball 38 times against just 18 passes, with Josh Allen throwing for 154 passing yards in a narrow 24-21 win for Buffalo. So we might be in line for something similar here.

Last week, Buffalo did record a -3.4% Pass Rass Over Expected in their win over New Orleans, meaning they leaned toward the run. That was their first game since Week 4 with a PROE that wasn’t at least +6.5%, meaning they threw at least 6.5 percentage points more than would be expected based on factors like field position, down and distance, and score. Their -3.4% PROE against New Orleans was particularly notable because the Saints have one of the league’s best run defenses. That game came on Thanksgiving, and they’ll have had 11 days between matchups when this Monday night game rolls around.

For their part, the Patriots are well-equipped for a weather game that asks them to run the ball. While they are notoriously malleable to game situations, they’ve built their offense around a strong rushing attack, putting Mac Jones in positions to be successful through the air off of that, a situation within which he’s excelled. In addition, New England’s rush defense has been nearly as strong as Buffalo’s, particularly if you throw out last week when they gave up 270 yards on the ground in a 36-13 win, as a depleted Titans team opted to run heavily despite the negative game script. In other words, that wasn’t a situation where New England was really even trying to stop the run for much of the game. Removing that game, the Patriots have the fourth-best success rate against rushing plays this season, but when you include it, they fall all the way to ninth.  

This is going to be a physical game between two good teams with, particularly good defenses. Both teams can defend the run, but passing may be tough to come by, so it may still come down to who can find success on the ground. Josh Allen may be an X-factor there, where the Bills may choose to use him on more designed carries, but the Patriots have a more established track record of controlling a game that way. I’m taking the Pats to win outright in a game that should be close and could come down to turnovers and execution.

MNF Bills vs. Patriots Pick

  • Patriots Moneyline (+125)
Ben Gretch
@YardsPerGretch

Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.

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