2020 Team Betting Previews: Bills

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2020 Team Betting Previews: Bills

The Bills are coming off their second winning season in three years under HC Sean McDermott, which earned him a four-year extension in August. Buffalo reached double-digit wins last season for the first time since 1999, but the Bills failed to win their first playoff game since 1995 after blowing a fourth-quarter lead to the Texans in the Wild Card Round. The Bills still cashed +400 odds by making the playoffs, and they finished with a 10-7 overall record and with a 9-6-2 against-the-spread mark.

Buffalo was the go-to team if you were looking to bet under totals last season as it led the league with a 13-4 mark toward under totals. Bills games averaged just 36.1 points per game, which was tied with the Bears for the lowest combined PPG. Buffalo allowed the second-fewest PPG (16.5) and it scored the 10th-fewest PPG (19.6). The Bills actually have some room for improvement after finishing with a 4-6 record in one-score games — they won their only two games decided by three scores or more.

Buffalo’s 2020 win total (8.5) climbed by two victories after a strong season and a fruitful off-season. The Bills surpassed their 2019 win total with their seventh victory of the season over the Dolphins in Week 11. Buffalo has -182 odds to reach the playoffs for the third time in four seasons after missing the playoffs for 17 straight seasons (2000-16) before their current run. Entering the season, I have the Bills power rated as the ninth-best team in the NFL (+2500 to win Super Bowl LV), as the third-best team in the AFC (+1200 to win the conference), and as the best team in the AFC East (+120).

2020 Schedule

WeekOpponent (spread if available)Time
1New York Jets (-6.5)1
2@Miami Dolphins (-3)1
3Los Angeles Rams1
4@Las Vegas Raiders4:25
5@Tennessee Titans1
6Kansas City Chiefs8:20 (Thurs)
7@New York Jets (-1.5)1
8New England Patriots (-2.5)1
9Seattle Seahawks1
10@Arizona Cardinals4:05
11BYEBYE
12Los Angeles Chargers1
13@San Francisco 49ers8:15 (Mon)
14Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)8:20 (Sun)
15@Denver Broncos (+1)TBA
16@New England Patriots (+3.5)8:15 (Mon)
17Miami Dolphins1

Key Off-season Moves

Additions

Stefon Diggs (WR)

Mario Addison (DE)

{{Vernon Butler|DT|BUF)) (DT)

A.J. Epenesa (DE)

Zack Moss (RB)

Josh Norman (CB)

Quinton Jefferson (DT)

Daryl Williams (OT)

Departures

Jordan Phillips (DT, Ari)

Shaq Lawson (DE, Mia)

Lorenzo Alexander (LB, retired)

Kevin Johnson (CB, Cle)

Frank Gore (RB, NYJ)

Corey Liuget (DT, FA)

2020 Season Odds

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)8.5 (-143/+118)
AFC East+120
Playoffs (Y/N)-182/+149
AFC Championship+1200
Super Bowl+2500

Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total

The Bills reached double-digit wins last season for the first time since the 20th century, and they followed up their banner season with a great off-season. The Bills have better continuity than most teams this season, including their nemesis to the east, and they have an even better team than they had in 2019 after trading for a #1 WR in Stefon Diggs. Third-year QB Josh Allen now has a complete receiving corps with John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Dawson Knox already in the fold.

OC Brian Daboll started to run his offense like Sean McVay does with Jared Goff, calling plays with his quarterback at the line of scrimmage after he’s had a chance to see the defense’s alignment and personnel. The Bills increased their use of the hurry-up offense in the second half of last season, and the Bills used more 11 personnel than any other team in the final seven weeks of last season. Now just imagine the Bills offense at the end of last season with Diggs on the field instead of last year’s #3 WR Isaiah McKenzie. Needless to say, the Bills offense has a lot more potential heading into this season.

Even if the Bills can’t make an offensive leap this season, the Bills still project to have one of the league’s best defenses once again after allowing the second-fewest points per game (16.5) and the fourth-fewest yards per play (4.9). Buffalo lost Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson along their defensive line this off-season, but the Bills still managed to improve the group by signing Mario Addison, Vernon Butler, and Quinton Jefferson and by drafting A.J. Epenesa in the second round.

The Bills have the 15th-toughest schedule and third-toughest slate in the AFC East based on 2020 win totals (per Sharp Football). The only reason their schedule fell in the middle of the pack was because of their four matchups with the Dolphins and the Jets, who are both lined to finish with fewer than seven wins. Buffalo’s other 11 opponents are each lined to win seven or more games this season. The Bills will have a great chance to get off to a strong start with a friendly first four weeks of the season (NYJ, @Mia, LAR, @LV).

Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total

HC Sean McDermott landed a four-year extension from owners Terry and Kim Pegula at the end of August to keep him in Buffalo through the 2025 season. But, as The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia wondered in a piece after the extension, the big question is will QB Josh Allen be with McDermott through the end of the extension. Buscaglia believes McDermott could outlast Allen in Buffalo if the third-year QB doesn’t show “marked improvement” in the next two seasons.

To be fair, Allen has already shown incremental growth through his first two seasons, but the Bills need him to keep making progress this season since they now have a roster that can compete for a Super Bowl title. Allen is never going to be a conventional quarterback because of his running ability in such a massive frame, but the Bills won’t take the next step if he can’t improve as a pocket passer. He’s failed to complete 60% of his passes and to average 7.0 YPA in each of his first two seasons. The fate of the 2020 Bills is riding on Allen’s shoulders this season, and Buffalo may have already hit its ceiling last year by reaching the playoffs if Allen doesn’t show more improvement this season.

The Bills don’t have many holes on their current roster, which is weird to write for an organization that has had so much disappointment since their epic run of Super Bowl appearances in the early ’90s. The Bills locked up young LT Dion Dawkins to a long-term deal in the middle of August, but the rest of this O-line leaves something to be desired. The Bills lost RG Jon Feliciano to a torn pectoral muscle at the end of July, but they quickly snatched up Brian Winters after the Jets cut him at the beginning of August. The Bills have average options across their line outside of Dawkins, but they at least don’t have any glaring weaknesses.

The Bills and the rest of the AFC East drew the NFC’s toughest division in the NFC West, as well as the AFC West, the Steelers, and the Titans in their extra AFC contests. Buffalo will be logging plenty of frequent flyer miles with road trips to Las Vegas, Arizona, San Francisco, and Denver this season. The Bills have a couple tough travel spots with a pair of road back-to-backs in Weeks 4-5 (@LV, @Ten) and in Weeks 15-16 (@Den, @NE). They also have to play the 49ers in the Bay Area on Monday Night Football in Week 13 before hosting the Steelers on Sunday Night Football in Week 14.

Notable Player Props

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Josh Allen: passing yards (3300.5), passing TD (21.5), rushing yards (525.5), most passing yards (+6600), MVP (+5000)

Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (3600), passing TDs (24.5), rushing yards (470)

  • Best-case Scenario: Allen take a big step forward in his development in his third season, and he has a breakout performance as a passer with a #1 WR in Stefon Diggs at his disposal.

  • Worst-case Scenario: Allen fails to make incremental progress for a second straight year as his completion percentage remains below 60% and his YPA sits below 7.0 YPA for the third straight season.

Devin Singletary: rushing yards (800.5), most rushing yards (+5000)

Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (820)

  • Best-case Scenario: Singletary holds off third-round pick Zack Moss and he continues his late-season success from his rookie year when he became the go-to player in this Bills offense.
  • Worst-case Scenario: Moss immediately encroaches on Singletary’s workload and OC Brian Daboll splits the workload evenly between the two backs.

Stefon Diggs: receiving yards (950.5), most receiving yards (+4000)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (910)

  • Best-case Scenario: Diggs quickly gets on the same page with Josh Allen, and his third-year QB shows significant improvement with his accuracy thanks to Diggs’ ability to separate from defenders.
  • Worst-case Scenario: Diggs sees a significant decline in the quality of targets going from one of the league’s most accurate QBs in Kirk Cousins to one of the league’s least accurate QBs in Allen.

John Brown: receiving yards (800.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (790)

  • Best-case Scenario: Even with the addition of Stefon Diggs, Brown continues to be the top deep threat in this passing attack and Josh Allen actually gives him more accurate looks downfield.
  • Worst-case Scenario: Brown posts sporadic production with his 2019 air yards share (34%) and his target share (24%) plummeting with Diggs taking over the #1 WR role

Best Bets and Leans

The Bills, in a bit of a surprise, reached 10 wins last season in just Josh Allen’s second season. The Bills are arguably in much better shape heading into 2020 than they were last year after a strong off-season that saw them land Stefon Diggs. The Bills may have finished with double-digit wins last year, but they also have some room for improvement after winning just four of their 10 one-score games. The bad news about last year’s success is that they’ll now face a much tougher schedule, but they’re at least much better equipped for it.

I’m leaning toward the Bills going over eight and a half wins this season, but I don’t want to pay the heavy juice to do it. Instead, I’m looking toward a plus-price prop and betting the Bills to win the AFC East for the first time since 1995. I bet this one earlier this summer when the Bills were +150 underdog to win the division, but I still like it at a shorter price as +125 favorites. That sounds like a really dumb bet, but the Bills are a well-run, complete team and the Patriots are as vulnerable as they’ve been since Tom Brady tore his ACL in the 2008 season opener.

I loved Buffalo’s aggressiveness trading for Diggs this off-season to give Allen a top-flight receiver for this passing attack. With that said, I’m leaning toward Diggs finishing under 974.5 receiving yards this season. Diggs is going from one low-volume passing attack to another this off-season. He’s unlikely to average 17.9 YPR like he did last year going from one of the league’s most accurate quarterbacks (Kirk Cousins) to one of the league’s most inaccurate downfield throwers (Allen). Diggs has also never played in 16 games in his final seasons, and it doesn’t help that he’ll get four matchups against Stephon Gilmore and Byron Jones/Xavien Howard.

Best Bets: Buffalo Bills to win the AFC East (+125, FanDuel). Risk one unit to win 1.25 units.

Leans: Buffalo Bills over eight and a half wins (-143, DraftKings)…Stefon Diggs under 974.5 receiving yards (-110, FoxBet).

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.

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