Morning Coffee: The betting trend that underlines concerns for Bills
The Buffalo Bills are still a top 10 choice to win the Super Bowl at FanDuel. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that they have lost each of their past two meetings with opponents that are also ranked among the top 10 choices to win it all.
Additionally, four of their final eight regular-season games will come against opponents that currently have shorter odds to win the Super Bowl than Buffalo.
If the playoffs started this week, the Bills would be on the outside looking in.
As it stands, Buffalo’s performance to date has not met the standard of a top-seven team in the AFC.
How concerned should Bills Mafia be?
While it’s important to keep a level-headed perspective, there are some alarming trends that have cultivated a sense of unease in Buffalo.
One betting trend underlines the current concerns.
This is the Morning Coffee for Wednesday Nov. 8, 2023.
The betting trend that underlines concerns for Bills
For those that are unfamiliar with sports betting, the point spread is often referred to as the great “equalizer” when it comes to wagers on the NFL.
The point spread, which is often referred to as the “spread”, represents the margin of points by which the favoured team must win in order to “cover the spread”.
🏈 NFL WEEK 10 IS HERE 🏈— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) November 7, 2023
Who is pulling off an upset this week? ✍️ pic.twitter.com/nQ44KSqBxe
This handicap is used to even the odds in a game that features a perceived mismatch.
For example, when the Bills hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football in Week 8, they closed as a 10-point favourite at FanDuel.
In order to cover the spread, Buffalo would have to win that game by a margin of 11 points or more.
A win by exactly 10 points would result in a push on the spread. A win by nine points or less would result in a Tampa Bay cover.
The Bills won that game by six points, which means they failed to cover the spread.
While the spread result has no bearing on the standings, it’s often used as a point of reference as a measurement of how a team has performed relative to expectations.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions are tied for the best ATS record in the NFL at 6-2.
Both teams have performed at a high level versus expectation on a week-to-week basis this season.
On the flip side, the Carolina Panthers are 1-6-1 against the spread.
Carolina is a league-worst 1-7 straight up, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they have underdelivered versus expectation.
At the same time, five of their seven losses have been by double digits, and the fact that they have failed to cover the spread so consistently highlights that they have been worse than expected.
Buffalo is 3-6 against the spread this season. Only six teams have a worse ATS record. The bigger concern is what the Bills have done lately.
Since Week 5, Buffalo is an NFL-worst 0-5 against the spread.
The Bills have failed to cover the spread in five straight games – the longest active streak and the franchise’s longest ATS slide since 1976-77.
This week, Buffalo is -7.5 for its date with the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football.
The Bills have covered seven straight head-to-head meetings with the Broncos, and the fact that they absolutely need a win at home in prime time this week could be enough to keep the spread above a touchdown.
While Denver looked awful at times early on, that wasn’t the case before its bye week.
The Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs to improve to 3-5 – one game shy of a .500 record over the first half of the season.
Now they get a full two weeks to prepare for a Buffalo side that doesn’t have a win by more than six points since Oct. 1.
Again, it’s a long NFL season and it’s important to maintain a certain level of perspective when it comes to the big picture over the course of the year.
If the Bills beat Denver on Monday Night Football, they will take an important step to climbing back into a playoff spot as they brace for a brutal schedule the rest of the way.
If they somehow lose that game, the outlook in Buffalo will be a lot worse than it is right now.
As for my approach to the game, I lean towards taking the 7.5 points with Denver, but I’m not rushing to fade a Bills’ team that is desperate for a statement win at home.
There are better bets on the board for Week 10 in the NFL.
Still, the fact that I lean towards taking the points with the Broncos is a testament to the fact that I don’t hold Buffalo in the same regard as last year’s 13-win team.
The Bills have failed to cover the spread in five straight.
That doesn’t mean anything in the actual standings, but it is another notable point of reference when evaluating how this year’s team has fared versus expectations over the past five weeks.