What NFL experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Bills game

Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick. –Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe

Julian Edelman won’t be around to help the Patriots on Sunday in Buffalo, which might mean one fewer interception on the day for New England quarterback Cam Newton.

Edelman’s struggles this season have been well documented. The 34-year-old wide receiver has 21 catches this season on only 39 targets, a number that leads the team, but is also tied for 47th-best in the NFL. Twice he’s had balls doink off his fingers and into the arms of the opposition. For the most part, Edelman looks disinterested to be on the field, likely pining for the good ol’ days and wondering when he can actually stamp his ticket to join his buddies in Tampa Bay.

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Barring a late-season release, it’s a reunion that won’t happen this year.

Reports surfaced Thursday that Edelman had undergone a standard knee procedure and is expected to miss “some period of time,” according to ESPN.

N’Keal Harry might also be unavailable due to the concussion he suffered during last week’s debacle against the 49ers. So, it’ll be up to Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski to lead the targets for Newton as the Pats try to gain ground on the first-place Bills Sunday in Orchard Park.

It also means that Edelman, who could have been used as some semblance of bait prior to Tuesday’s deadline, won’t garner any sort of return in a potential trade. Stephon Gilmore and Joe Thuney probably still highlight the list of players Bill Belichick would be willing to sell after Sunday’s game, but Edelman won’t be part of any transaction.

It’s not like you would have noticed if he were gone anyway.

This week’s picks

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 27, Bills 20. “New England has won seven in a row over Buffalo and nine of past 10 — owning this series all of this fifth of a century. Now the Bills are up and the Tom Brady-less Pats are down. So why am I thinking long and hard on this one? Neither team has impressed the past three weeks, and Bill Belichick is but one good Cam Newton game from continuing his mastery of the Bills against a really bad defense. Watch it happen, and then delight to imagine Cam’s postgame sartorial display. UPSET!”

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Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Bills (-3.5). “This Patriots team looks bad right now. Not just below average, but bad. It’s a recipe for a big defensive effort from Buffalo in Orchard Park, New York.”

MMQB staff: Four out of six pick the Bills.

ESPN staff: Eight out of 10 go with Buffalo.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Bills 28, Patriots 20. “The Patriots have looked awful in their last two games, but the Bills haven’t been cooking either. This is the game that could define whether the Bills are ready to take the division from the Patriots. New England’s defense has major issues right now, which is why I think Josh Allen will exploit it. New England’s troubles continue.”

CBS Sports staff: Split (Buffalo -3.5). Five out of eight like the Bills straight-up.

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Bills (-3.5). “In their last 12 games going back to last season, the Patri*ts are 4-8. They have also lost three straight games, in which they have averaged fewer than 300 total yards per game. The Patri*ts had an extremely long, sustained period of dominance (helped by cheating, of course), and it’s going to take some time to get used to viewing them as a bad team, which is what they now are. In the meantime, bet against them until the rest of the population catches up, because there’s no way that this line should only be 3.5 points.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Bills 24, Patriots 17. “The 5-2 Bills didn’t get pretty against the Jets but they did get well from the tough losses to the Titans and the Chiefs, maybe having a breakthrough in their traditional running game with rookie Zack Moss. This seems like a chance for the 2-4 Patriots to get back into the division race and they couldn’t lose four straight games badly, could they? But there’s a big advantage at quarterback for Josh Allen over Cam Newton and New England can’t simply win this one with a run-heavy, defensive-minded approach.”

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Bill Bender, Sporting News: Bills 27, Patriots 14. “The Patriots haven’t lost four straight games since 2002, and the poor quarterback play is eye-opening. New England QBs have combined for just three TDs and 11 interceptions this season. The Bills will be more than happy to pile on.”

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 23, Bills 20. “The Bills can’t run or stop the run. The Patriots can do both, and they can frustrate Josh Allen and the Buffalo passing game.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Bills 27, Patriots 20. “It’s time for a changing of the guard in the AFC East. The Bills will cruise against a Patriots team that just doesn’t have it.”

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Patriots (+3.5). “ I do hope that Sean McDermott doesn’t spend the whole day embarrassing himself like he did last year when the Patriots came to town. That was honestly tough to watch.”

FiveThirtyEight: Bills, 66 percent (Buffalo, -4.5).

Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Bills 24, Patriots 18. “Sean McDermott is 0-6 against Bill Belichick, but these aren’t the same Patriots. Cam Newton’s deep slump, which started before his positive COVID-19 test, has distracted from how much worse New England’s defense is this year. That’s welcome news for Josh Allen, who hasn’t led the Bills to more than 18 points in any of their last three games after averaging over 30 in their first four. Allen’s struggles against Belichick are well-documented, and Buffalo’s defensive shortcomings versus the run could keep this game close. Still, the talent gap is wide. The Bills should have been ready to beat a limited Pats team in Foxborough last December. If they can’t do it now, something is seriously wrong.”

NFL Pickwatch: Seventy-seven percent are going with the Bills.

It says here: Patriots 23, Bills 21. Buffalo trailed the irrelevant Jets at halftime last week, after coming off back-to-back demolitions at the hands of the Titans and Chiefs, respectively. The Bills may be de facto AFC East champs, but Belichick isn’t going to go down without a fight. For now, at least.

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