The first Thursday of the NFL schedule is always a good day, but what I like even better is the first host of games on Sunday. Football from 1 in the afternoon capped off with SNF at night is as good as it gets. It also provides numerous opportunities for us to cash in with big winners. It was a good start on Thursday for us as the over was an easy one. Peyton Manning tied a record for touchdown passes in a game, tossing 7 against the hapless Ravens defense. Raven unders which used to be automatic locks is not going to be the case this season. Even last season it wasn’t the case for the Ravens, as they had to rely on their offense to win games. I expect more of the same this season, but with an even worse offense and worse defense than a year ago.
One team that figures to threaten the Denver Broncos this season is the New England Patriots. I think that goes without saying, but there are many people that are down on the Patriots this season. I’m not going to argue with the reasoning I suppose, the offseason for the Patriots was an utter mess with the Aaron Hernandez fiasco. The Patriots’ offense is also getting revamped given the loss of Wes Welker as well. On top of that, the Patriots will be without the services of Rob Gronkowski for at least a couple of weeks.
Patriots vs. Bills Betting Odds:
New England Patriots -10 (-110)
@ Buffalo Bills +10 (-110)
Over 51.5 (-115)
Under 51.5 (-105)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Patriots vs. Bills Pick:
I think being overlooked in this game is the fact that the Bills are going through a transition, too. Transitions in much more important areas than the Patriots are going through. Just a week ago the Buffalo Bills thought they were going to be starting undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel at quarterback, a player that had a 4-22 record in college at Washington State. The Bills had injuries to Kevin Kolb and E.J Manuel which had personnel in Buffalo hitting the panic button already. But Manuel, a read option quarterback from Florida State has overcome that injury and will be ready for Sunday. What a way to get your first career start against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Manuel was a successful quarterback at the college level, but will need to adjust rather quickly to a new system on offense and opposing defenses. The ACC plays decent defense, but he is going to see defensive packages he has never seen before, and it all comes in week 1. As a result of the injury to Manuel, he hasn’t been able to get much time getting accustomed to the Buffalo system. He also had to sit out the final two preseason games, which would have provided him with much needed experience going into Sunday afternoon. Sometimes you’ll get an offense that has a variety of dangerous weapons surrounding the quarterback, but the Bills don’t exactly have that. They do have adequate options, including Stevie Johnson, but I don’t think there’s enough to give Manuel a big hand.
If you’re going to look at the Patriots’ defense from a yards allowed standpoint then you are going to be severely disappointed if you’re a Pats’ fan. They were particularly bad defending the pass where they were 29th in that respect, allowing 271.4 yards per game. They are much more difficult to the run the ball against though, and I think are underrated to an extent. They bolster a terrific front with Vince Wilfork and Chandler Jones, and then there are some terrific linebackers lurking on that unit with O.J. Mayo, Donta Hightower, and Brandon Spikes. With all the yards given up on defense, the Patriots actually only gave up 20.7 points per game. At the end of the day, all that matters if points allowed, I don’t care about yards given up. So how are they doing it? Well they have been the best defense in generating turnovers in the last three years, which is what it is all about. Be an opportunistic defense and get the ball back to Tom Brady.
The Patriots will be back with the same offensive system they utilized last season, which was an offense that operated at warp speed. When the Patriots’ offense is in sync there are not too many defenses that can slow them down. It’s not really a matter of talent when it gets to this point, but more so just pure fatigue on the other side of the ball. Brady will be without Welker, Hernandez, and Gronkowski compared to last season, but Hernandez and Gronkowski were banged up plenty anyway. Welker is missing, but they added another talented wide receiver in free agency, Danny Amendola. Amendola played extensively in the second preseason game against the Buccaneers and showcased why Patriots’ fans may forget about Welker shortly. Amendola nabbed 6 balls for 71 yards and a touchdown in the limited time he played. The Patriots also acquired new offensive tools for Brady in the draft by taking Aaron Dobson out of Marshall and Josh Boyce from TCU. I do think one or the other is going to be in for a big rookie campaign, as Dobson is a deep-ball threat and Boyce is more of a slot option for Brady. Dobson has been ruled out though, so I foresee a lot of balls heading Kenbrell Thompkins and Amendola’s way.
There are a couple things going for the Patriots in this game even though they are starting on the road. First, as I mentioned above, the Patriots are the best team in the NFL at forcing turnovers. Not the kind of team I would like to see Manuel going against in his first ever NFL start. I foresee the Patriots boggling Manuel down forcing him into mistakes giving the Patriots excellent starting field position for Brady. Secondly, the Bills’ defense is not what it used to be. The Bills used to actually have one of the better secondaries in the league, but had trouble last year, where they were 23rd in the league. I expect the Bills to regress from last year and finish 28th or 27th against the pass. They also had a lot of trouble slowing down opposing teams rushing attacks, coming in second to last at 31st in the NFL. The Patriots have a retooled running game with Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, so watch out for that as well. This is a lot of points to lay on the road and I rarely lay this many on road teams, but I have a hard time seeing the Bills staying in this game. I can see a final of around 35-17, so I’ll be on the Patriots in week 1.
PICK: Patriots -10 (-110)