This is such a fascinating matchup. The Bills embody so many of the league-wide trends from the last few years, while the Patriots embody so much of the counter measures taken by coaches to go heavy while their opponents go light, zigging while the rest of the league zags.
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.
Pick: Bills 20, Pats 17
Patriots (+3) at Bills
MDS's take: 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.
MDS's pick: Patriots 24, Bills 20.
Florio's take: It's all falling together perfectly for the Patriots.
Florio's pick: Patriots 27, Bills 23.
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.
Pick: Bills 26, Patriots 20
Line: Bills -2.5 | Total: 43.5
The schedule-makers blessed N.F.L. fans with potentially the best game of the week on Monday night. The Bills (7-4) will attempt to pry the A.F.C. East lead away from the Patriots (8-4), who stole it from them after winning six straight games. Buffalo will be short-handed, though, because Tre'Davious White, one of the N.F.L.'s best cornerbacks, tore an anterior cruciate ligament against the Saints on Thanksgiving.
That's a brutal blow for a Bills team game-planning against Mac Jones, the Patriots' rookie quarterback who has completed an impressive 70.3 percent of his passes this year. Defenses have yet to stop the Patriots' risk-averse, efficient play behind Jones, and until proven otherwise, it'd be safer to not bet against them.
Pick: Patriots +2.5
What to watch for: While the absence of cornerback Tre'Davious White will be big for the Bills' defense, it's the recent trend of turning the ball over that is the key to watch when the Patriots and Bills face off. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen has thrown seven interceptions in his past four games and lost one fumble. Thus far, Buffalo's defense has been able to bail the team out, but New England will be a tougher task, especially considering the defense has forced a league-high 20 turnovers since Week 5. Allen maintaining his composure will be crucial, and he could be assisted by two starting offensive linemen potentially returning to the starting lineup. -- Alaina Getzenberg
Stat to know: Tight ends Hunter Henry (Patriots) and Dawson Knox (Bills) each have seven receiving touchdowns this season, tied for the league lead among tight ends.
Betting nugget: Buffalo has covered each of its last five games in the month of December or later, and it is 4-0-1 ATS in its past five games against AFC East opponents.
Reiss' pick: Bills 20, Patriots 16
Getzenberg's pick: Patriots 24, Bills 23
FPI prediction: BUF, 64.4% (by an average of 4.9 points)
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.
Pick: Patriots 23, Bills 20