Patriots

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

Both the Patriots and Bills hold 50 percent odds to win the division, a number that will drastically change for both after Monday night. 

Bills quarterback Josh Allen. File

There’s a point during the first episode of “Man in the Arena,” when Tom Brady, uncharacteristically, admitted that he was sort of relieved that injury prevented him from playing the remainder of the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh. 

“The moment was definitely bigger than I was ready for,” he said. 

Twenty years later, maybe we will all say the same should the potential Super Bowl showdown between Bill Belichick’s Patriots and Brady’s Buccaneers actually take place come February. 

Is that something we can even really handle? 

This is no longer a pipe dream. According to Football Outsiders, the two teams have a 14.8 percent chance of facing off in Super Bowl, the highest probability of any matchup. In other words, a veritable line in the sand will be drawn throughout households in New England, while the rest of America just throws up their hands in disgust. 

“Those hoping to avoid the football equivalent of madness-inducing, Lovecraftian horror must root for the Buffalo Bills (7-4), who face the Patriots twice, including Monday night, and the Buccaneers once down the stretch,” writes Mike Tanier in The New York Times. “Assuming the Bills fail in their ersatz Van Helsing role, as they have for most of the last 20 years, the A.F.C.’s best hope lies in potential playoff foes like the Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) and the Baltimore Ravens (8-3), the flashy-but-unreliable hares to Belichick’s tortoise.” 

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The Times’ playoff calculator has the Patriots now at 94 percent to make the playoffs, up from 86 percent last week. They’re at 10 percent to win the Super Bowl, tied for the highest AFC percentage with the Chiefs. 

Both the Patriots and Bills hold 50 percent odds to win the division, a number that will drastically change for both after Monday night. 

Obviously it’s too early to start the Super Bowl hype for a Belichick-Brady duel, but you can just imagine the hysteria. 

But if the Patriots beat the Bills Monday, the possibility gets a little more possible with every coming week. 

I’m really not sure if we can handle it. 

This week’s predictions:

Globe staff: Four out of six pick New England (+2.5). 

Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Patriots (+3). “I trust the way the Patriots play right now over how the Bills play. Plus, the injury to Buffalo’s top corner is a season changer.” 

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Bills 26, Patriots 20. “This is the game of the week with first place in the AFC East on the line. The Patriots have won six straight games and have really impressed on defense. It will be fun to see what Bill Belichick throws at Josh Allen. The Bills looked much better last week against the Saints than they did for most of November. They continue to play well here. Bills take it.”

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John Breech, CBS Sports: Patriots 23, Bills 20. “Over the past 15 years, Belichick is 25-5 against Buffalo. Although the Patriots got swept last year, they still almost pulled off an upset in their first meeting with the Bills, which was a 24-21 Buffalo win. Even in the middle of a huge rebuild, Belichick almost beat the Bills. When the Patriots went on their big free agent spending spree during the offseason, I’m 99% sure that every move they made was done with the sole purpose of ensuring that they would be able to destroy the Bills this year.”

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: New England (+3). “You saw in the intro how close this matchup is. It’s as close as close can be. So I like the Bills to win by two on a last-second field goal around 11:23 p.m. in ice-cold Buffalo. That would make for some juicy drama, and it’d set up for a dynamite final stretch of the season in both the AFC East and the AFC at large.” 

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots (+3). “The Patri*ts are on a six-game winning streak during which they’ve outscored opponents 211-63, while the Bills have been erratic. I don’t know if the Patri*ts have deployed a whole new bunch of cheating initiatives or what, but I’ll be riding them until they they lose.” 

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ESPN staff: Five out of nine pick the Pats. 

Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Patriots (+3). “The Patriots have been playing much better than the Bills lately. Maybe the Bills have been sleepwalking a bit through a dull part of their schedule and will turn it on in this very important AFC East game, but I feel like I’m getting three points with the better team.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Bills 23, Patriots 19. “Mac Jones faces his toughest test yet as a rookie QB, in a hostile environment, on the road, in the elements, with first place on the line against a nasty defense. The Patriots also have a daunting defense that will contain the big plays from counterpart Josh Allen. This is a bit of grinding game for both sides with limited rushing success, so the unique dual threat playmaking of Allen will make the difference in a game that stays tight and rather ugly deep into the fourth quarter.” 

Bill Bender, Sporting News: Patriots 23, Bills 20. “The Bills are 5-5 ATS as a favorite, and they are matched up against the hottest team in the league in what should be a live atmosphere. These are the two best scoring defenses in the league, so it’s going to be tight. Will the Patriots run their win streak to seven games? We think they will.” 

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 27, Bills 23. “It’s all falling together perfectly for the Patriots.”

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Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 24, Bills 20. “The Patriots have been the best team in the NFL for the last six weeks, and I don’t see that changing in Buffalo. New England takes a major step toward winning the AFC East.”

FiveThirtyEight: Bills, 56 percent (-1.5). 

Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Bills 20, Patriots 17. “I believe that big-game experience matters. These Bills — namely their secondary and defense overall — have been in so many marquee matchups since Sean McDermott arrived. The Patriots’ offense is powerful, improving and finding its way. But the unit hasn’t played together long, and Mac Jones hasn’t been tested liked this. I expect Buffalo and New England to split their two games over the next month. The most likely way for that to happen is for each home team to win and for Bill Belichick to make his adjustments in the rematch. Look for Josh Allen‘s running to make the difference this time.” 

NFL Pickwatch: Fifty-two percent Buffalo. 

It says here: Patriots 31, Bills 30. Buffalo is the better team, but, at this point, there’s no good reason to pick against the Patriots.

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