GAME PREDICTIONS

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NFL analysts' game predictions | Bills vs. Broncos in Week 12

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The Broncos (3-7) were averaging 15.6 points a game when Joe Flacco criticized the team's offensive philosophy and then was ruled out for the season with an injury. In the two games since, they have scored 24 and 23 points with Brandon Allen, a little known backup quarterback, starting. So the problem may have been Flacco. The Bills (7-3) are an intriguing opponent, as they can match Denver's defensive intensity, but vary wildly on offense from week to week. The difference in this game, though, could be motivation. According to The Upshot, Buffalo's chances of making the playoffs spike to 80 percent with a win and crash to 50 percent with a loss. Also, the game is in Orchard Park, tipping the scale in the Bills' favor. 

Pick: Bills -4

I'd love to see the Bills lean on Josh Allen's running more often, like they did against the Dolphins. The strategy exposes Allen's tendency to fumble, but using his legs is what he does best, and he knows how to sell the hell out of a play fake. The Bills will need every yard they can get against a scrappy Broncos defense -- and a Denver offense that is finding an identity under Brandon Allen. The team is leaning more on Noah Fant and Tim Patrick, and the recent promotion of Phillip Lindsay to clear lead back was overdue. I like his matchup against a mediocre Bills rush defense. This wouldn't be nearly the upset that the records indicate.

Denver Broncos 23, Buffalo Bills 20

MDS's take: I like the way Brandon Allen, the Broncos' young quarterback, is playing, and I'm tempted to pick the Broncos to pull the upset. But after their collapse against the Vikings last week, I'm not sure I can trust the Broncos to play well on the road for four quarters.

MDS's pick: Bills 20, Broncos 17.

Florio's take: Josh Allen > Brandon Allen.

Florio's pick: Bills 13, Broncos 10.

Charles: Broncos

They nearly beat the Vikings and now I at least expect the Broncos to cover a spread that's a hair too large.

Steven: Bills

That line is just small enough for me to back the Bills, who played better on defense last week than they had over the previous month. The Broncos will keep it close, but not that close.

The Broncos are playing consecutive road games, which is never easy. And this is a long trip to play a good team. Denver competed in a big way at Minnesota, but in this battle of the Allens – Josh for the Bills and Brandon for the Broncos – I think Josh Allen gets the best of it. Bills win it. 

Pick: Bills 21, Broncos 15

The Broncos made the Vikings sweat until the very end as even bigger road underdogs last week with the teams trading some big plays in the passing game. This is a trickier road start for Brandon Allen in conference, and Josh Allen is known for having his best games against the weakest teams. Denver will try to make this as ugly as possible, and both defenses will be positioned to rule these matchups. Look for a battle of attrition to break out with field goals deciding it.

Pick: Bills win 16-13 but fail to cover the spread.

What to watch for: Despite sporting the league's 23rd- and 25th-ranked passing offenses, the Bills and Broncos feature the AFC's top two wide receivers by receiving yardage in John Brown and Courtland Sutton, respectively. Both teams also possess elite cornerbacks in Tre'Davious White and Chris Harris Jr., who could make things difficult for the wideouts. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Bold prediction: If the Broncos keep Bills quarterback Josh Allen under 50% in completion rate, they'll pull the upset. The Broncos have the league's No. 4 pass defense and rank No. 8 in scoring defense, but they have allowed a 66% completion rate overall this season. In the Bills' three losses, Allen has been held to 46.4%, 47.1% and 53.7%. Those are also the only three times he's been below 60% this season. -- Jeff Legwold

Stat to know: The Broncos have a 28.5% conversion rate on third down this season (third worst in NFL), while the Bills have the sixth-best rate allowed (34.6%).

What to know for fantasy: The Bills' Brown was the top-scoring player in fantasy last week and has over 50 receiving yards in all 10 of Buffalo's games. See Week 12 rankings

Legwold's pick: Bills 16, Broncos 13

Louis-Jacques' pick: Bills 17, Broncos 9

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As the Bills prepare to play the Denver Broncos, scroll through to view photos from previous matchups between the two opponents.

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