Each week, TheLines will provide a betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Monday Night Football game. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best prop bets.
The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots will face off at Gillette Stadium for a Week 16 AFC East showdown on Monday night, Dec. 28. The game marks the 122nd meeting between the teams in a series the Patriots lead 76-44-1. The most recent game between the teams unfolded in Week 8 of this season, when Buffalo recorded a 24-21 win at New Era Field.
In that contest, the Bills’ Josh Allen threw for just 154 yards and an interception, but the backfield duo of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss combined for 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns (Moss) on 28 carries. Stefon Diggs also found a way to be productive despite the lackluster day for the passing attack, compiling a solid 6-92 line.
MNF odds and betting breakdown
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots – 8:15 p.m. ET
The two teams come into this divisional clash with diametrically opposite outlooks for what remains of the regular season. For its part, Buffalo already has the AFC East crown in its pocket, having clinched it with a blowout victory over the Broncos in Week 15. Meanwhile, the Patriots are officially out of the postseason after having fallen to the Miami Dolphins on the road last Sunday. The Bills can still potentially improve their overall seeding, so coach Sean McDermott will presumably approach this game with a competitive mindset regardless of his team’s guaranteed postseason spot.
The history of the line for this game reflects the belief of the oddsmakers and betting public that Buffalo has both more talent and motivation than its opponent. The line opened at Bills -4.5 late last week, and it subsequently bumped up to 6.5 after Week 15 results. It’s climbed another half-point to a full touchdown advantage for the visitors as of Friday afternoon. It is currently Bills .
The only notable short-term injury concern (the Bills’ John Brown and the Patriots’ Julian Edelman both appear to be trending toward remaining on injured reserve for at least another week) for either team comes in the form of Patriots running back Damien Harris, who’s listed as questionable as of Friday afternoon with the ankle issue that cost him the Week 15 contest against Miami.
The projected total for the contest has had very modest movement in comparison with the point spread. It sat at 45.5 points late Sunday and has only inched up another half-point since then, putting it a point over the final number for the first meeting between these clubs. The Over has a particularly poor record in New England’s home games this season, lending credence to the notion this could be a lower-scoring matchup. The total is currently .
- The Bills are 9-5 (64.3%) against the spread this season, including 3-3 as a road team and 1-3 (25.0%) in division matchups. The Over is 9-4-1 (69.2%) in Buffalo’s games this season, including 4-3 (57.1%) in its road games and 3-1 (75.0%) in its division matchups.
- The Patriots are 6-8 (42.9%) against the spread this season, including 4-2 (66.7%t) as a home team and 2-2 in AFC East matchups. Then, the Over is 4-10 (28.6%) in New England’s games this season, including 1-5 (16.7%) in its games as a home team and 2-2 against AFC East opponents.
MNF prop search tool
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Bills vs. Patriots matchup
Despite being without Brown for the last four games, Allen has shown impressive adaptability and has posted an 8:1 TD:INT while throwing for 972 yards over the last three contests specifically. Those types of numbers aren’t always the norm against what has been a stingy Patriots secondary this season, but New England’s loss of Stephon Gilmore for the rest of the season with a quadriceps injury suffered against the Dolphins could change that narrative somewhat this week. When Gilmore missed three games earlier this season with a knee injury, the Pats surrendered a combined five touchdown passes to the duo of the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and the Jets’ Joe Flacco, so there could certainly be opportunities for a red-hot Allen.
There’s an even more favorable matchup on paper for the Bills on the ground. Miami’s Salvon Ahmed and Matt Breida just combined for 208 yards and a rushing TD against New England’s front seven in Week 15, while Singletary and Moss found plenty of running room in the first meeting between these teams, as alluded to earlier. The Pats check in allowing the sixth-most rushing yards per game (133.0) and RB yards per carry (4.70), while New England also gives up the third-most adjusted line yards per tote (4.88).
On the other side is Cam Newton – who appears set to remain in the top job under center despite the Patriots no longer having any postseason aspirations. New England’s passing game has been uneven all season under Newton and with Edelman missing the last eight contests. The Bills have given up their share of yards through the air, but they’ve tightened up at the right time of the season by giving up just 202.7 passing yards per game over the last three contests. Buffalo’s pass defense DVOA is up to a respectable No. 15 ranking as a result, placing the Bills just in the top half of the league.
Meanwhile, opposing ground games have also found success on occasion against Buffalo, which has dealt with some injuries at the linebacker position this season that have contributed to some inconsistency against the run. Currently, the Bills check in allowing 123.9 rushing yards per game on the road, along with bottom-half figures of 4.50 adjusted line yards and 4.44 RB yards per carry allowed. If Harris is able to return for this game and work in tandem with Sony Michel, coach Bill Belichick could opt to lean heavily on the run in the hopes of protecting Newton, who sports an unsightly 5:10 TD:INT, has committed six fumbles (one lost) and has taken 31 sacks. The Bills defense has been one of the league’s best at taking the ball, posting 12 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries to place them at No. 4 in the league in total turnovers forced.
Best MNF betting sites
How to watch Monday Night Football
ESPN holds the rights to Monday Night Football and will cover 17 games from Week 1 through Week 16.
Games can be streamed on the go on ESPN’s website or WatchESPN app with a cable or satellite subscription. Streaming services such as Sling TV also carry ESPN in many of their subscription packages.
MNF betting tips
How to bet MNF like a sharp
Monday Night Football can be the most highly-anticipated game of any given week in the NFL throughout the season. The extra day of preparation, media coverage and overall hype brings more attention to every aspect of the game.
The extra day of rest can allow players to return from injury, but they may also be forcing themselves back to the field before they’re truly healthy due to the added attention on the game. Look at injury reports and have an idea of what kind of a role a star player will be able to handle.
The Monday Night spot can also create discrepancies in how much rest the two teams have had. Taking the most rested team (the one with the longest amount of time since its last game) can often be a good place to find some value at the sportsbooks, especially on the spread.
Never bet a game solely because it’s the final matchup of the week and is the best thing to watch on a Monday Night. Be ready to sit it out completely and wait for next week if there’s no value popping out at books.
Frequently Asked Questions
When does Monday Night Football start?
As always, Monday Night Football debuted with a Week 1 doubleheader. The Steelers beat the Giants in the first game of the night on Sept. 14 and the Titans edged the Broncos.
Every other MNF game from Week 2 through Week 16 of the 2020 season will begin at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.
How to stream Monday Night Football?
The ESPN website and WatchESPN app are the easiest options for those with cable or satellite subscriptions. Many streaming services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and Hulu include ESPN in most of their plans.
What is the highest-scoring Monday Night Football game ever?
The Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs in Week 11 of the 2018 season was the highest-scoring MNF game of all time. The 105 combined points topped the 95 points scored by the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins in 1983.
Who are the MNF announcers?
ESPN moved on from Joe Tessitore after two years and will now implement longtime SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy as the play-by-play man for MNF. Levy will be joined by former NFL quarterback Brian Griese and former NFL safety Louis Riddick.
John Parry remains as the rules analyst, and Lisa Salters returns as the sideline reporter.
Who was the original Monday Night Football broadcast crew?
The original MNF broadcast crew on ABC in 1970 was made up of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. Many cycled through the crew before Al Michaels took over as play-by-play commentator from 1986 through 2005. His color analysts included Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller and John Madden. Mike Tirico assumed play-by-play duties with Tony Kornheiser, Joe Theismann, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya filling out the crew when ESPN took over the rights in 2006. Jon Gruden replaced Kornheiser in 2009 until he returned to the sidelines as head coach of the Oakland Raiders last season.