The Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints will wrap up Thanksgiving’s three-game NFL card with a prime-time showdown at the Caesars Superdome on Thursday night. Books corner this game with Buffalo at the sportsbook exchange, but it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for the much-fancied Bills of late.
The Bills have lost three of their last five games and dropped out of top spot in the AFC East. Now, they come up against an ornery Saints team that is looking to snap out of its own run of poor form.
This has all the hallmarks of a trap game. And on a night that New Orleans plans to honor its beloved and legendary quarterback Drew Brees, it’s bound to be a motivating occasion for the hosts to not only give their fans something to cheer about and deliver an upset in the market too.
Bills Shaken and Stirred
Is it time for the Bills to take a good look in the mirror? Following a stunning 41-15 evisceration by the visiting Indianapolis Colts at Highmark Stadium on Sunday, the Bills dropped the second of their last three games and third of their past five, and they haven’t looked good in the process at all. On the heels of their latest setback, Buffalo also lost its lead in the AFC East.
This wasn’t supposed to happen, not if the NFL odds were any indication — the Bills closed as touchdown favorites over the Colts at home. Previously, they lost to the Tennessee Titans 34-31 on the road and, embarrassingly, to the Jacksonville Jaguars 9-6.
For the first couple months, the Bills looked like the best team in the AFC and the team to beat in the race to Super Bowl 56. Indeed, Super Bowl 56 odds were adjusted to reflect the Bills accordingly. However, in recent weeks, the wheels have come undone spectacularly.
Sean McDermott said it’s been somber inside the Bills facility the last few days.
Josh Allen had a different way to describe the mood at One Bills Drive pic.twitter.com/MbwMlpVBwq
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) November 23, 2021
Have opponents sussed out the Bills offense? Josh Allen is certainly struggling — he has four touchdowns and five interceptions in the past three games. Gone are those big plays that captured the imagination of NFL fans last season and led Buffalo to the AFC Championship Game. The secondary can’t seem to protect Allen either and the run game has gone walkabout.
Currently, the Bills are 6-4 and in second place in the AFC East and seventh in the AFC standings. The New England Patriots have leapfrogged Buffalo into first place on the back of a five-game winning streak.
If coach Sean McDermott and the Bills don’t change tact soon, these struggles are likely to continue. The Bills have their first date against the Patriots in Week 13 (and another on Boxing Day) followed by a tough matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14.
Saints Honoring Brees
The New Orleans Saints have struggled with form of late, too, losing three straight and slipping to a 5-5 record. This puts Sean Payton’s side just on the cusp of the playoff race, and with teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers looking to advance their bids down the stretch, the competition for the NFC wild card spots is heating up.
The Saints lost to the Atlanta Falcons and Titans. Most recently, New Orleans lost to the Philadelphia Eagles on the road — a most disappointing account because it was a winnable game — but the Saints were slow out of the gates and let it get away from them too quickly.
The Saints need to get back on track if they hope to extend their campaign into the postseason. They’re currently second in the NFC South and seventh in the NFC standings. Injuries have set back the Saints — losing quarterback Jameis Winston and star wideout Michael Thomas for the season were big blows. Running back Alvin Kamara’s absence due to injury over the last few weeks has only added to Payton’s challenges.
The Saints have a tough few weeks ahead with another prime-time showdown scheduled next week against the Dallas Cowboys. The premium on these next few games can’t be underestimated as it could mean the difference between playing football in January or surfing the sofa during the playoffs.
Betting This Game
Books projected this game at Bills -4½ before Week 11 and returned to market with the same line on Sunday at the close of Week 11. The line shot up to six points, though, soon after the public started pounding the Bills at 4½. Clearly, the loss to the Colts didn’t take the shine off of Buffalo all that much.
Yes, the Bills might be the so-called “better” team — that’s why they’re the public betting online favorite in this game. However, right now, they’re not inspiring much confidence to justify such a hefty price. Are they?
It’s a short turnaround and a must-win game in prime time for both teams, and the Bills might be in the tougher position on the road — tougher than the odds would suggest.
The ceremony for Drew Brees is only going to add to the electric atmosphere at the Superdome, and that could be a great motivator for the Saints to rise to the grand occasion. After all, they’ve risen to the occasion before, which underscores the upset potential in this Thursday showdown to keep this game close, if not pull off the outright win.
That said, whichever way you slice this game for the straight-up win, surely we can agree that the Saints as the +6 home underdogs are a value bet for NFL picks against the spread. The Saints defense is still amongst the top 10 in the game, and if they take a page from the Titans, Jaguars and Colts, they could rattle Bills quarterback Allen and heap more misery on the Bills.