What NFL experts are saying about Thursday’s Patriots-Bills game

Pundits are generally picking the Bills, of course, but predictions on how the game will go vary.

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Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) hands off to running back Devin Singletary (26) against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. AP


As if we weren’t already prematurely tired of the yet-to-come circus surrounding Tom Brady’s potential retirement in the offseason, now we have to add a possible return to the Patriots into the mix?

Thanks to the Athletic’s Jeff Howe for proposing the reunion, writing, “Don’t ever write off the Patriots,” in a column trying to suggest where the likes of Brady and Aaron Rodgers may play next season. Now we’ve got sports radio hosts and SEO experts all filing the same query.

I suppose the question is, why? Brady will be 46 years old next season, and though he’s been serviceable this season with Tampa, signs of wear and tear are — finally — starting to show. Then again, they were about a dozen years ago as well.


The reunion might make sense for Brady, who would get to bookend his career in New England, but for the Patriots, it smells very Indianapolis. Who’s next? Russell Wilson should be available. How about a broken-down Matt Stafford in another couple of seasons?

Never mind the fact that Brady would be walking into an offensive construction zone with architects who aren’t sure what to do after laying the foundation. Do we really think Bill Belichick is going to bend over backwards and disrupt any progress (we say that lightly) the team has made over the last two years to welcome Brady back?

The jury is still out on whether or not Mac Jones can be the guy, but either benching him (and we know just how eager Brady is to groom quarterbacks below him on the depth chart) for a season or outright trading the second-year player at the age of 24 for a guy more than two decades his elder? If Brady were still performing at the same sort of level that allowed him to go scorched earth the season following his departure from Foxborough, sure. The Tom Brady we’re watching in the present? Meh.


Maybe Brady will sign one of those lame one-day contracts upon retirement. Whether that’s in 2023 or beyond, who knows. But if Brady doesn’t retire, there are other places that make more sense. Though he might want to avoid the quarterback graveyard the Colts have populated nicely.

This week’s predictions

Buffalo News staff: Three of four pick the Bills. Mark Gaughan picks the Patriots, 23-20. “The Bills are the better team when healthy. I don’t believe in the Pats’ offense, but I believe in Bill Belichick.”

Globe staff: Five of six (Ben Volin) take Buffalo (-3.5)

CBS Sports staff: Four of seven go with the Bills (-4).

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Bills 28, Patriots 21. “The Bills knocked the Pats out of the playoffs last year, so you know the Pats want to get back at them for that. Both teams played on Thanksgiving, so they are rested. But Josh Allen has played really well against the Pats in recent years, going 4-1 in the last five. That stays true. Bills win it.”

ESPN staff: Four of five pick Buffalo.

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Buffalo (-3.5). “I don’t think the Patriots will get embarrassed like they were in the playoffs vs. Buffalo. People forget that the Patriots were using guys like De’Vante Bausby, D’Angelo Ross and Joejuan Williams on defense. So it’ll be a better game. Yet when Buffalo needs to gain 7 yards, Josh Allen will take off running for 50. As often as he wants.”


Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Bills. “Depending on how things shake out, the Bills, Dolphins, or Jets could be leading the division on Sunday night. The team that won’t be leading the division is the Patri*ts, who have feasted on quarterbacks like Mitch Trubisky, Jared Goff, Jacoby Brissett, Zach Wilson x2, and Sam Ehlinger. However, when they face anyone decent — like Tua Tagovailoa, Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Fields, and Kirk Cousins — they lose. I think we can probably put Josh Allen into the “decent quarterback” bucket.”

Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer: Bills (-4). “It’s always risky to bet against Bill Belichick as an underdog, but there’s a significant talent discrepancy between these two teams, and the Bills have the division and postseason seeding to play for. I think they take care of business again.”

Vinne Iyer, The Sporting News: Bills 24, Patriots 20. “The Bills and Patriots had different road results against NFC North foes on Thanksgiving, with Buffalo edging Detroit and New England falling in Minnesota. Their first meeting of the season should produce typical tight division results with Mac Jones playing better and the Patriots staying in the game with their rushing attack. But in the end, they have too many coverage issues to contain Josh Allen enough.”

Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Bills 27, Patriots 17. “The Bills had extra time off after the Thanksgiving thriller with the Lions. Buffalo is 5-5-1 ATS. The Patriots can stop the run – but Josh Allen presents a different challenge with his mobility. New England also has averaged just 71.3 rushing yards per game in its last three games. That will not work against the Bills. Buffalo wins for the third straight year at Gillette Stadium.”


Neil Greenberg, Washington Post: Patriots (+4).

FiveThirtyEight: Bills, 62 percent (-3.5).

NFL Pickwatch: Ninety-two percent, Bills (-190).

It says here: Bills 30-17. It’ll be close, but the Bills have a fourth-quarter offense that can win it. The Patriots have nothing resembling that.


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