The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills will battle for the third time this season on Saturday night, but the stakes will be amplified with this showdown occurring during Super Wild Card Weekend. One AFC East club will advance to the divisional round, while the other will walk into the abyss of the offseason. These teams split the season series at a game apiece, with each winning on the road. Will that continue? We'll soon find out.
In this space, we'll specifically be looking at the different betting angles that this matchup has on deck for us. Below, you'll read picks from both CBS Sports and SportsLine experts on this game, as well as a handful of player props that catch our eye.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
Date: Saturday, Jan. 15 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Highmark Stadium (Orchard Park, New York)
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Odds: Bills -4, O/U 44
Patriots at Bills spread picks
"I don't love how the Patriots have looked coming down the stretch. Not too long ago they were standing as the No. 1 seed in the conference, but have since fallen to a wild card entry. That's thanks to three losses over their last four games, which included a 33-21 loss to Buffalo in Week 16. Despite these clubs splitting the season series, that game in Foxborough may be a more realistic view of how this coming matchup will unfold. After all, New England's win in Week 13 was aided by 40 mph winds in a game where they only threw the ball three times. As long as Mother Nature doesn't put her hands on this game in a similar fashion, I don't think Mac Jones is ready to match Josh Allen throw for throw just yet. The Bills are also 3-1-1 ATS in their last five games as a favorite." -- CBS Sports' Tyler Sullivan on why he is picking the Bills to cover against New England on Saturday night. To read the rest of his picks, click here.
Hammerin' Hank Goldberg is a legendary handicapper for SportsLine and has his finger on the pulse of both the Bills and Patriots. He is 20-11-2 (+763) in his last 33 against-the-spread picks in games involving the Bills and 18-11 (+571) in his last 29 against-the-spread picks in games involving the Patriots. If you've been following Hammerin' Hank, you are way up. For this playoff matchup between these two division rivals, he has identified a key difference-maker that has him leaning on one side of the spread. For that, you'll have to check out SportsLine.
"This is one of two divisional matchups this weekend, which means we've got plenty of intel at our disposal. Unfortunately, one of the two games between these two was played in the Arctic Circle and can't be relied upon. At least, not unless the weather forecast for Buffalo changes drastically between now and Saturday (it's going to be freezing, but not nearly as windy).
"What I come back to time and time again is Bill Belichick getting points against a team he's already gone against twice. Now, the Patriots are not THE Patriots anymore. Mac Jones is not Tom Brady, and this defense isn't nearly as good as past Patriots defenses, but it is good enough to limit the Bills and keep them within range. Even in Buffalo's 33-21 victory in New England, Josh Allen might've thrown for 314 yards, but he needed 47 pass attempts to get there. I expect a similar defensive game plan from New England to keep things in front, eliminate big plays, and put themselves in a position to possibly win the game late. I don't know how successful they'll be when it comes to the win part, but the rest is more than feasible." -- CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli on why he is taking the Patriots +4 against the Bills.
"This is the third game featuring these two this season, with each winning on the other's field. New England won the first meeting in a wind storm in early December, while the Bills dominated the Pats at their place in late December. The weather is expected to be cold, but not that windy. That means Josh Allen can have success throwing the football. The Patriots haven't been the same team on the road, especially quarterback Mac Jones. Look for the Bills to take away the run and dare him to beat them. He won't. The Bills will be moving on." -- CBS Sports Senior NFL analyst Pete Prisco explaining why the Bills are set to roll over the Patriots with a 30-17 win. You can read the rest of Prisco's picks here.
"Let's not forget that the Bills had one of the best defenses in football this year: They've surrendered the fewest yards and fewest points per game, so I won't be surprised if they hold the Patriots under 20 points. The Patriots will be starting a rookie at quarterback and let me just tell you, a rookie is the last person you want to be starting at QB in a playoff game.
"Since 2010, rookie quarterbacks are 2-6 in playoff games and the only two wins came in games where a rookie was starting for both teams so a rookie had to win. Basically, I expect Mac Jones to struggle and the only way I think Patriots can win is if the game plays out exactly like their first meeting with the Bills and I don't think that's going to happen." CBS Sports NFL writer and Pick Six Podcast co-host John Breech on why he's picking the Bills to pull out the win over New England.
Patriots at Bills total picks
"The weather won't be as bad as it was when these two teams last met in Buffalo where the goal posts were waving around like inflatable characters in front of car dealerships. That said, it is forecasted to be blisteringly cold, which should impact the game a bit. New England doesn't want to get into a shootout with Josh Allen and they have been stout on defensively on the ream. On offense, the Patriots' preference has been to run the football, which they have done with success against this team. Damien Harris has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his two games against Buffalo this season. Meanwhile, New England's biggest weakness defensively has been defending the run, so the Bills could opt to attack that as well. If that proves to be the case, it's hard seeing this tipping toward the Over." -- CBS Sports' Tyler Sullivan on why he is leaning Under on the 44 point total.
Best prop picks
Damien Harris total rushing yards: Over 56.5 (-115). Harris averaged 107 rushing yards on 7.6 yards per carry against the Bills this season and is set to be a featured role in New England's offense yet again.
Rhamondre Stevenson anytime touchdown (+320). The same logic applies to Damien Harris (+127), but there's more value with Stevenson. The Bills are allowed the fifth-most rushing touchdowns (19) this season and the most among the current playoff teams. If New England gets in the red area, the ball will be going into the arms of Stevenson and Harris quite a bit.
Josh Allen total rushing yards: Over 64.5 (-140). Stopping the run has been a big weakness for the Patriots this season and Allen is the type of runner that could give them fits. Over the final three weeks of the regular season with the Bills looking to secure the division, Allen averaged 69.3 rushing yards per game on 6.5 yards per carry.