Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills (11/28/19): NFL Betting Picks, Lines

This Week: 7-5
All Time Results: 78-73-1, +9.9 Units

Dallas Cowboys -6.5 vs. Buffalo Bills – 1 Unit

The Buffalo Bills are what we in the industry call a fugazi.

The Bills have an 8-3 record thanks to playing 6 games against the consensus 5 worst teams in the league: (NYJ, NYG, CIN, MIA, WAS & MIA).  Statistically, they’ve had the easiest schedule in football.  Historically, they have been beaten soundly by above-average teams and particularly above-average offenses.  The Cowboys attack, by any measure, is elite: 2nd in Offensive DVOA, 6th in points per game.

buffalo billsAlmost identical to my handicap when the reeling Philadelphia Eagles went up to Buffalo and won going away, the Bills will be exposed against real competition this week.  Credit to Warren Sharp for tweeting out this trend.  Digging into it, the numbers are startling.

1. Pull up every game the Bills have played the last two years, using any database that tracks ATS record.  Copy and paste into a spreadsheet.  Remove every game that they have played against an average or better offense, referencing Football Outsider’s season-long Offensive DVOA for this year and last year.  For 2018, remove any game against an opponent who was in the top half on offense for 2018.  And do the same for 2019.

What’s left on your spreadsheet? The Bills are 0-8 straight up, giving up an average of 29 points per game.  They lose these games on average by more than 20 points!  So that “shocking” 31-13 final in their loss against Philly is actually exactly in line with the expectations, at least based on this pattern.

Dallas Cowboys -7 (+102) vs. Buffalo Bills – .1 Units

In this subset, Buffalo is 2-6 Against the Spread, and missing out to expectations by an average of 12.5 points per game.  Both of their covers were against the Patriots – once in December 2018, once this year.  I felt both games the Patriots bossed proceedings, didn’t push for margin, and instead played the clock.  While I don’t discount those covers completely, it perfectly aligns with my theory that the Bills “great defense” is not great when playing against the good offenses of the league.

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Dallas Cowboys -9.5 (+138) vs. Buffalo Bills-.1 Units

The Bills entered last season as the consensus worst team in football, based mostly on roster evaluation.  What’s changed? Josh Allen.  Allendallas cowboys & HC Sean McDermott get a ton of credit for putting a winning product on the field so early in his development.  Growing pains can happen in wins too.  That said, I’m far from convinced he’s any good yet.  Allen is 26th in Total QBR, which is 4th best among his draft class (Lamar Jackson 1, Baker Mayfield 17, Sam Darnold-22).  While running and mobility – and bravery, honestly – have always been a strong suit, he has shown improvement in his passing acumen this year.

But there’s improvement – and then there’s improved.  Then there’s the $100 million man about to show and prove.  That’s Dak Prescott.  The Cowboys are not just an average offense – they arguably the most well-rounded offense in the league and the numbers back it up.  You might say they do worse against good defenses – who doesn’t – but they moved the ball at will against the Minnesota Vikings and despite some key mistakes still put up a score above league average.

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Born in Chicago, born for Las Vegas, Mackenzie is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English & Creative Writting. Mackenzie runs AlternativeStats.blog, which seeks to by-pass the minutiae of commonly cited sports statistics and expose the heart of what drives athletic success. After several successful years investing in Las Vegas real estate, Mackenzie is excited to transition in 2019 into betting on sports full time, as well as documenting his thought process as he further learns the craft.

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