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NFL game predictions | Bills vs. Falcons | Week 17

Dion Dawkins Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Field in Atlanta, Ga. on October 1, 2017.Photo by Craig Melvin.
Dion Dawkins Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Field in Atlanta, Ga. on October 1, 2017.Photo by Craig Melvin.

Line: Bills -14 | Total: 44.5

This could be considered a trap game for the Bills (9-6), who would lose their newly established grip on the A.F.C. East if the Falcons (7-8) pulled off an upset. It would also be a reversal of every football norm if Atlanta, whose defense has surrendered 30 or more points six times, could carry out a win at Highmark Stadium, where below-freezing temperatures and snow are predicted for kickoff.

If Buffalo keeps Josh Allen upright against the pass rush, which it failed to do in a Week 9 loss to Jacksonville (a true trap game), the Bills will cover the spread easily.

Pick: Bills -14

Beating down bad teams is the Bills' specialty. Every one of their wins is by at least 12 points, making them one of the most misleading, talented 9-6 teams of all time. The Falcons are the opposite, experts at winning close games against bad teams. They are somehow 7-8 and dead last in DVOA. The reason this line is so high is that Vegas is begging someone, anyone to take the Falcons.

Pick: Bills 34-16

MDS's take: It's amazing that the Falcons are still in playoff contention this late in the season, but they won't be after Sunday.

MDS's pick: Bills 34, Falcons 14.

Florio's take: When the Falcons lose, they lose convincingly.

Florio's pick: Bills 35, Falcons 20.

The Bills are now in first place in the AFC East after beating the Patriots last week. That's the Bills team many expected to see. The Falcons are still alive in the playoff race, but this will be a steep task for Atlanta. Look for Josh Allen and gang to once again have a big day on offense.

Pick: Bills 31, Falcons 17

Here's yet another lopsided NFC South vs. AFC East affair, this time in favor of the home team. The Bills lost to the Buccaneers, but they smashed the Saints and Panthers. The Falcons were ripped by the Patriots and edged by the Dolphins. Buffalo is rolling with Josh Allen and there's not much the Falcons' defense can stop when he's getting good support from the running and intermediate passing games. Matt Ryan steps into a brutal pass rush and coverage situation, one that can take away rookie tight end Kyle Pitts.

Pick: Bills win 34-17 and cover the spread.

What to watch for: Can the Bills defense force Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to make mistakes? All six of the Bills' losses have come when opponents turn the ball over one or zero times, and the Buffalo defense is third in the NFL with 19 interceptions this season. Ryan, on the other hand, has zero interceptions in his past four games, and doing so again Sunday would tie the longest streak within a season of his career. The Falcons' best shot against the Bills at home is to not give Buffalo QB Josh Allen and the offense favorable field positions by turning the ball over. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Bold prediction: The Falcons, as they have done for most of the season, will remain competitive in the first half against a playoff-bound team and will hold a lead at halftime. But Allen will be too difficult to contain for the entire game and he will throw for 335 yards and three touchdowns for the Bills to pull away in the second half. -- Michael Rothstein

Stat to know: Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson is averaging 1.7 yards per touch over his past two games. He led all running backs with 6.3 yards per touch through Week 14 (min. 100 touches).

Betting nugget: Buffalo has topped the over total in three straight games. Atlanta has finished the under total in six of its past seven games.

Rothstein's pick: Bills 31, Falcons 17

Getzenberg's pick: Bills 33, Falcons 20


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