Bills Line Shopping: Josh Allen Can Bolster MVP Chances In Showdown Against Colts

Buffalo enters its matchup against Indy as the current Super Bowl favorite
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During a four-game winning streak in the early stages of the 2021 NFL regular season, the Buffalo Bills emerged as a Super Bowl contender by averaging 39 points per game.

So as shocking as a 9-6 defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 9 may appear, the dismal offensive performance could wind up being an aberration. The Bills responded last week with a 45-17 thrashing of the Jets, marking the third time that Buffalo had hit 40 points on the season. Now the Bills return home to face the Indianapolis Colts, a team Buffalo eliminated in the 2020 AFC Wild Card round with a 27-24 victory.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Bills remained a 7-point favorite on the VegasInsider.com consensus line.

Ball control

In Sunday’s matchup, the Bills will need to contain one of the league’s best running backs in Jonathan Taylor. A second-year player from Wisconsin, Taylor enters Week 11 tied with injured Titans running back Derrick Henry for most rushing yards in the NFL with 937. Browns running back Nick Chubb ranks third overall with 721.

After a slow start to the season, Taylor has rushed for over 100 yards in four of the Colts’ last five games. In that Week 9 victory over the Jets, Taylor recorded 200 yards of total offense while scoring twice in the Colts’ 45-30 win. The Colts will need to depend on a steady dose of Taylor on Sunday to keep the ball away from Josh Allen and company.

In last season’s playoff victory, the Bills held Taylor in check, limiting him to 78 yards on 21 carries. The Colts still managed to control the clock, though, holding the ball for more than 34 minutes in the defeat. On Sunday, the Bills will look to put the clamps on Taylor while limiting clock-burning drives from Indianapolis that could place added pressure on Allen.

The total in Sunday’s matchup hovers around 50, indicating that bookmakers do not expect a shootout. The total has fallen under 50 in six of Indy’s 10 games this season. The Bills, meanwhile, rank second in the NFL with 31.1 points per game, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys in that category.

Astute bettors will also engage in line shopping ahead of the key AFC showdown. At PointsBet, the Bills are favored by 7.5 (+107). While several books have considerable juice on the Bills at -7 (-120), you can receive more favorable action at FanDuel, where the price is -112. By way of reminder, that means a $112 wager carries a payout of $100. The others require a bettor to stake $120 to win $100.

Super Bowl futures

As a result of several considerable upsets over the last two weeks, the Super Bowl futures market has been fraught with chaos since the start of November. Last Sunday, Washington defeated defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, a 9.5-point favorite. A week earlier, the Denver Broncos crushed the Cowboys 30-16 despite closing as 10-point underdogs. Denver raced out to a 30-0 lead before Dallas ended the game with two late touchdowns.

Despite three close losses on the season, the Bills are still a +600 favorite at DraftKings to win Super Bowl LVI, ahead of the Bucs (+650), Rams (+800), Cowboys (+800), and Packers (+850). The Bills are also -450 favorites to win the AFC East, ahead of the red-hot Patriots (+300), who’ve won four straight after a 2-4 start.

Allen, who ranks third in the AFC in passing yards per game (289.1 ypg), is a +250 favorite at DraftKings to win NFL Most Valuable Player honors. The sportsbook also lists Tom Brady (+350), Matthew Stafford (+800), Dak Prescott (+800), Aaron Rodgers (+1000), Kyler Murray (+1600), and Lamar Jackson (+1600) as potential MVP candidates, while Rams wideout Cooper Kupp (+2500) is the top choice among non-quarterbacks.

A Bills player last won NFL MVP in 1991, when Thurman Thomas captured the honor. Thomas finished the season with 1,407 yards on the ground and 631 receiving yards, producing one of the best seasons ever by an NFL running back, according to FootballOutsiders.com.

Allen finished second in 2020 MVP voting behind Rodgers. Last season, Allen threw for 4,544 yards and rushed for another 421. He’s currently on pace to improve on both marks.

Photo: Mark Konezny/USA TODAY

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