The best team in football is a tough wager.
Because by my charts, they are good enough to overcome a bad motivational or situational spot and are priced too high when factors line up in their favor. This year, the team I have at the top of the rankings is the Buffalo Bills. I decided before the season started that I wouldn’t bet against this team and am extremely cautious to wager on them when their point spread price is too high.
For real life examples this season, the Tennessee Titans showed up in Buffalo in second week action in a great spot to beat the Bills, at least against the bloated double-digit point spread. Buffalo had become only the third team to defeat the defending Super Bowl Champions on their home field since the tradition of the champ hosting the season opener on Thursday night was initiated in 2004. The Bills downed the Los Angeles Rams in their opener.
During the same weekend, the highly regarded Tennessee Titans, who were the top seed entering the American Football Conference playoffs last season, were upset in their opener on their home field by the New York Giants. This created a spot where the Bills could easily be overconfident and the Titans on full alert when the teams met on Monday night.
But, even with those factors favoring Tennessee with the ten points on the spread when they visited the Bills at Highmark Stadium in second week action, we avoided the play. Good idea, the Bills won, 41-7.
After that lopsided victory, the Bills showed up in Miami more ripe for an upset loss, and they suffered their first defeat of the season against the Dolphins, 21-19. We avoided that game too, because of our hard and fast rule this year; Don’t bet against the Bills.
After their loss to the Dolphins, the Bills were right motivationally but in a tough spot to battle the Baltimore Ravens as a road favorite, and while they won the game, 23-20, they pushed on the three point spread. Then, returning home, against a weak Pittsburgh Steelers squad, all the factors were right for a Bills lopsided win. For the first time this year, we took the Bills while giving a point spread many thought was too high, 14. It wasn’t, the Bills won 38-3. Sean McDermott’s team then headed to Arrowhead Stadium four weeks ago as a road favorite against the AFC team best poised to challenge Buffalo this season, the Kansas City Chiefs.
As a road favorite, the Bills were favored by 2½ points over the Chiefs, Buffalo both won the game and covered the line, 24-20. They haven’t covered a point spread since. After their bye week, the Bills hosted the declining Green Bay Packers, and won the game but played sloppy and didn’t cover the 10½ point spread while winning the game, 27-17. Which brings us to last Sunday when Buffalo met the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
On our charts, the Jets were the highest rated motivational pick of the year. New York had their four game winning streak snapped the previous Sunday on their home field by the New England Patriots, 22-17. Then were double-digit home underdogs to a division rival that led them in the standings. On Qoxhi charts, this is as good as motivation can get, and still, adhering to our declared policy not to bet against the Bills this season we let the game pass without a vested interest, and the Jets capitalized on the situation with an upset victory, 20-17. Perhaps Buffalo lost a lot more than just a game last week in New Jersey. Late in the loss, quarterback Josh Allen injured his elbow and tests not yet released might reveal he is not going to go this Sunday when the Bills host the Minnesota Vikings.
The early moves on the point spread indicate he is probably out this week. The Bills opened as an 8½ point favorite with the line first being sliced to seven points on Monday and dropping to six points today. The move reflects the Bills problems when forced to play with Allen sidelined. Since they drafted him in 2018, the Bills record in games Allen has missed is one win and four losses.
What does that leave us with on Sunday?
A Vikings team coming to Buffalo riding a six game winning streak and playing their second consecutive game on the road. Last week, in Washington, Minnesota downed the Commanders in a highly contested game, 20-17. With both the Packers and Chicago Bears losing last week, those are the two teams closest to Minnesota in the NFC North Division, the Vikings have now opened up a 4½ game division lead and their one loss on the season leaves them just one game behind the NFC Conference leading, and undefeated, Philadelphia Eagles.
Meanwhile, while the Bills were thought of as the best team in the league after their road win in Kansas City, they have not played to their highest standards since that mid-October victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
For good reason.
They have been neutralized by either their opponents or the situation.
This week, when they host the Vikings, they are in need of a win to assure they finish the week still alone atop the AFC East Division race where they are now challenged by both the Jets and surging Miami Dolphins.
Did I mention while we are not looking to bet against the Bills this season that when the factors point to Buffalo we are first in line to back their chances?
Like this week.
Qoxhi Picks: Buffalo Bills (-4) over Minnesota Vikings