Having already clinched the AFC East title this season, the pressure is off the Buffalo Bills as they prepare to do battle with the New England Patriots on Monday.
The Bills have finally stepped out of the Patriots’ shadow, winning their first crown since 1995. A win for Sean McDermott’s side will improve their position in the playoffs, and they have every chance of laying down a marker.
Pats Struggling Without Brady
Before this season started, New England had won their last seven matches against Buffalo, a run that helped them dominate the AFC East ahead of the Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.
Tom Brady’s departure before this season has thrown a spanner in the works though, and Bill Belichick’s side have failed to ignite.
Ahead of Monday’s game, the Pats have a 6-8 record, and they have failed to score a touchdown in their last two games.
Belichick has already hinted that he and his coaching staff would “evaluate what the opportunities are” with some of their backup players. The Patriots can no longer make the playoffs, so if things are going against them, there is every chance the coach will make sweeping changes.
The Bills are
25/28 to cover the -7 handicap, and they have what it takes to improve on their 24-21 victory over New England earlier this season.
Diggs and Allen Ready to Fire
McDermott has been able to watch quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs at their very best this season.
Both players have been named Pro Bowlers for the first time in their careers, and their partnership is growing each week.
The duo have connected for 90-plus receiving yards in six of their last seven matches, and they can exploit New England’s weak secondary this week.
When these two last met in Week 7, the weather conditions were challenging to say the least as the Bills triumphed 24-21, but Mother Nature should not play such a significant part on Monday evening.
Diggs currently leads the NFL in receptions, and he only needs 55 yards to break the Bills’ single-season record for receiving yards.
He is clearly the one to watch and punters can get
3/1 for the 27-year-old to score one touchdown and record 100+ receiving yards against the Pats.
Newton With a Point to Prove
Cam Newton has already conceded he has not been good enough for the Patriots this season, and his future could be on the line in the final two games of the season.
The Playoffs have failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008, but Newton will not be letting his guard down.
The former Carolina Panthers star has two weeks to save his job and he is likely to lead by example on Monday.
New England have often gained more yards on the ground than they have in the air and Newton could be crucial to their success.
The 31-year-old is
20/23 to run for over 39.5 rushing yards and his efforts on the move may be his best chance of making the game competitive.
*All odds correct at time of writing.