The Buffalo Bills return home, fresh a revenge road win over the New England Patriots. Buffalo now owns the AFC East lead ahead of their fierce division rivals, but the job isn’t done yet.
The Bills face the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets in the last two weeks of the regular season, with the former presenting the bigger stumbling block, despite the hefty NFL odds currently trading in Buffalo’s favor.
The mistake the Bills can make is to assume the Falcons are there for the taking. Tbe same goes for bettors looking at this game.
The Falcons kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a home win over the Detroit Lions last Sunday. Atlanta (technically) remained in the race, has something to play for and everybody loves a trier, right?
Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons
Bills Exact Revenge
Coach Sean McDermott took it to counterpart Bill Belichick, guiding Buffalo to the 33-21 win over New England at Foxborough last Sunday. At the same time, the Bills came through for their backers, winning outright as 1-point closing underdogs at the sportsbook exchange.
Quarterback Josh Allen was flawless, going 30-for-47 for 314 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 64 yards on the ground, giving Buffalo’s run game a much-needed boost. Devin Singletary rushed for 39 yards and a score, while Isaiah McKenzie and Stefon Diggs combined for 210 yards receiving and a touchdown apiece.
The Patriots beat the Bills, 14-10, a few weeks back at Orchard Park, so earning a split of the season series was of paramount importance to the Bills. That they came through is encouraging and could be taken as a sign that they’re back on track.
The Bills improved to 9-6 record, leapfrogging over the Pats into first place in the division. They also moved to fourth overall in AFC standings.
Falcons Must Win Out
The Falcons’ playoff hopes rest on several factors falling their way. However, none of those factors matter if they don’t take care of business. There’s no getting around the fact Atlanta has to win their final two games.
The Falcons capitalized on a short-handed Lions’ team a week ago in a 20-16 win. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts enjoying a record-setting game (six catches, 102 yards). Pitts thus supplanted Tony Gonzalez in yards gained/season by a Falcons’ tight end. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan had a modest outing (18-of-24, 215 yards and a touchdown).
A franchise record game for the rook 👏 pic.twitter.com/SBdtemNpIo
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) December 27, 2021
One could argue that the narrow victory over the Lions is a point of concern. Another perspective is that the Falcons are learning to win close games. It’s been the case that the Falcons have allowed leads to slip through their fingers late en route to losing games.
Ryan threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst early in the fourth quarter to give the Falcons the lead. Foye Oluokun came up with the late-game interception that sealed the win after Detroit backup quarterback Tim Boyle had the Lions on the Atlanta 1 with 33 seconds remaining.
NFL Predictions and Picks
At face value, this is a mismatch between two teams that have enjoyed contrasting expectations in NFL betting online markets for 2021. The Bills were tipped as Super Bowl contenders while the Falcons were merely pretenders, according to preseason markets.
Fast forward to Week 17 and the reality is that only two wins separate the pair. Some of it is down to the Falcons punching above their weight class, some of it is the Bills stumbling along the way.
If things go to plan, the Bills should win. But things don’t always go to plan, do they. There’s a chance that the Falcons could win too, although a cover is the more reasonable expectation for NFL picks against the spread.
It wouldn’t be entirely shocking if the Falcons upset the Bills altogether. They’re that kind of team, as in unpredictable and dangerous. Beating the Bills might be a tall order. The cover…not so much.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons +14½ (-110)
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