Buffalo Bills (+3) via HOUSTON TEXANS (under 41½): Both teams have proven that they can often show their best form from home – a virtual necessity to develop long-term hopes of success in the league. The Bills won six out of eight away games at Orchard Park, while the Texans went 5-3 away, considering their win over Jacksonville in London in the plus column.
Appreciate that the Texans have done better company with arguably the best triumphs on the Houston, Kansas City and Nashville streets. While defeating the titans in Tennessee, the Bills were also among the many conquerors of Dallas at AT&T.
It can be argued that the key is Deshaun Watson's best game, namely the deep ball. Buffalo's defense seems to be built on the basis that she is ready to immerse you, but they will fight you with all their might, if they greedily come down and try to hit DeAndre Hopkins with a certain degree of regularity. Difficult journeys, mostly consisting of short passes, can be overcome.
Buffalo's plus point advantage is more valuable than usual here because you are dealing with a matchup where points are likely to be associated with a pronounced premium. Short dogs (like these bills) in the off-season have an excellent long-term history of their own. The Texans are more moderate on the defensive (although J.J. Watt's return should give the Texan defensive front a significant boost), and if Bill's QB Josh Allen can minimize his intercept vulnerability, their superior defensive could carry the day. The defensive stubbornness of Bills could be even more valuable to a team that has gotten used to sluggish starts. In a close conversation, in case of doubt until late:
Bills, 20-17 (under 44).
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-5½) over Tennessee Titans (under 43½): Former professional defender Mike Vrabel has played for Bill Belichick three times in the first decade of the century. In 2018 – his first as headman of the Titans – Vrabel retaliated for the playoff loss to New England last year.
We are forced to respect the kind of franchise wisdom that led Ryan Tannehill to acquire these titans in the off-season. We're still excited to see what he can do here with a better cast than in Miami. Sure enough, he has managed to rise again and again for Vrabel this year – but this will be his first attempt to lead the Titans in Gillette after going 6-0 down in his South Beach days. RB Derrick Henry is a handful – but Henry will only be valuable if the titans have a more alert start than usual in January. The (projected) absence of Will Fuller, which is currently considered unlikely to cause groin problems, can make things difficult. Given Fuzzy Vrabel's recent statements about the participation of individual titans, we will believe it when we see it.
Underdogs held up well in the last round of wild cards, but if we were titanium fanatics, they would still be concerned as they catch the patriots in a bizarre home defeat against Miami – not an ideal thing for this visitor. The Brady Bunch will undoubtedly take another Lombardi trophy home this season, but we expect them to overcome this -5 ½ obstacle as the AFC South has been everything that resembles a variety of powerhouses.
There is a chance of precipitation when the whistle blows, but concerns about possible snow effects could be dispelled. It may not be cold enough for white stuff before the game ends.
Patriots, 24-16 (under 44½)
Last week: 5-11
Regular season: 108-122-4.