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AFC East: Week 6 Preview

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are looking to bounce back.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are looking to bounce back.

Having scrapped their way to an undefeated September, the New England Patriots finally gave in to injuries, absences and a less than stellar roster last Sunday, succumbing to the Cincinnati Bengals in a wet and miserable game in Ohio.

The Patriots’ hopes of bouncing back quickly could take a huge dent as the high-octane New Orleans Saints arrive in Foxborough, complete with undefeated record. The late afternoon matchup is the undisputed crown jewel in this weekend’s AFC East action, but it’s certainly not the only game worth watching.

Read on for the BettingSports.com preview of Week 6 in the AFC East, starting with last week’s Patriot-downer looking to add another AFC East scalp.

Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills

Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY, 1:00 p.m. ET (matchup)

E,J, Manuel's injury is a huge blow to Buffalo.

E,J, Manuel’s injury is a huge blow to Buffalo.

Having taken a 13-6 win over the Patriots last Sunday, ending Tom Brady’s streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass in the process, Cincinnati (3-2, 0-2 road) will look to secure its first road win of the season with a visit to Orchard Park.

The Buffalo Bills (2-3, 2-1 home) will be charged with stopping the Bengals. If the Western New York side is successful, it will mark a third home win on the bounce, and a move to .500 on the season. A win though is looking hard to come by.

The Bills will be without rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, who injured his knee against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4. Manuel will be replaced by Thad Lewis, an undrafted quarterback out of Duke University who has played precisely one game in his NFL career.

The Bills could also be without receiving threat Stevie Williams, who is suffering a back complaint, and running back C.J. Spiller (ankle). This could equate to a heavy dose of Fred Jackson on the ground, which in turn could play into the hands of the Bengals, who are 10th in the league in rushing yards allowed (95.6 YPG).

Cincinnati (-310) opened as the favorite over Buffalo (+273) on the moneyline. The Bengals scored a 23-20 victory the last time the two sides met (Oct. 2011), snapping Buffalo’s 10-game winning streak in the head-to-head. The Bengals have not won in Buffalo since November 1985, a span of six games.

The spread opened at 5.5 and has subsequently risen to 7. Both Cincinnati (3-1-1 ATS) and Buffalo (3-2-0 ATS) have covered the spread in three of five games this season. Buffalo is 9-2-0 ATS in its last 11 games against Cincinnati.

The over/under opened at 45 but has dropped to 41.5. Buffalo (3-2-0) has favored the over while Cincinnati (2-3-0) has favored the under. The total has gone over in the last five meetings between the sides.

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets

MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ, 1:00 p.m. ET (matchup)

The Jets will go into action without Kellen Winslow.

The Jets will go into action without Kellen Winslow.

The New York Jets (3-2, 2-0 home) picked up a huge victory last Monday night, edging out the free-falling Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. A win over the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4, 0-2 road) would surely be a middle finger salute to all those that ragged on the team ahead of the season. Of course, getting a win over the Steelers – even the winless Steelers – will take a lot of hard work.

Rex Ryan reported that “there would be no letdown for the Jets”, even against a side that has found itself a niche amongst the league’s worst. That might be easier said than done as the team faces more controversy in the wake of Kellen Winslow’s four-game suspension for breaching the league’s performance enhancing substances policy. Winslow has caught 169 yards and two touchdowns this season, and is emerging as a favorite target of rookie quarterback Geno Smith. With Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring) out also, the Jets’ receiving corps is looking thin on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have had an extra week to prepare after Week 4’s trip to London culminated with a 34-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Steelers showed signs of life in that game, particularly from rookie RB Le’Veon Bell, who scored a pair of touchdowns in his pro debut. Reports suggest the coaching staff has gone to work on the offensive line, looking to give Ben Roethlisbered better protection, but it’s the defense – yet to record a takeaway this season – that really needs to find some kind of groove.

The Jets opened as an underdog on the moneyline but have emerged as the favorite ahead of kickoff. The Steelers have historically crushed the Jets, and lead the all-time head-to-head 18-4. The gold and black side has taken two straight meetings between the sides.

The narrow spread currently stands at 1, although some sportsbooks have both teams even. New York (4-1-0 ATS) has been one of the AFC’s best teams against the spread, while the disappointing Steelers (0-4-0 ATS) have yet to cover.

The over/under opened at 40.5 and has climbed to 41.5. The Jets (2-3-0) have favored the under while the Steelers (2-2-0) have split the over/under evenly. The total has gone under in 10 of the last 13 meetings between the sides, including five straight in New Jersey.

New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots

Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA, 4:25 p.m. ET (matchup)

Tom Brady has never beaten Drew Brees as a pro.

Tom Brady has never beaten Drew Brees as a pro.

The last time New England (4-1, 3-0 home) and New Orleans (5-0, 2-0 road) hooked up, Tom Brady threw for 237 yards, no scores, and two interceptions while Drew Brees led the Saints to victory on the back of 371 yards passing and five touchdown strikes. While the NFL would love Sunday’s game between the two to be a close, hard-fought matchup, there’s a better chance it will resemble that November 2009 clash.

Brady will look to beat Brees for the first time in his professional career Sunday. He’ll also look to help the Patriots bounce back from last week’s loss in Cincinnati. Once again though, he could be looking to win without his major receiving threats.TE Rob Gronkowski (back, forearm) spent the week training in full, but the latest reports suggest he will once again be absent when the Patriots take to the field on Sunday. WR Danny Amendola (groin) is again questionable as is Matt Slater (wrist). Rookie Aaron Dobson (neck) is listed as probable.

Meanwhile, the Patriots defense, which has looked better this season and averages 229 yards per game through the air, will be up against Brees and the Saints’ onslaught, which averages 327 yards per game, second only to the Denver Broncos (374 YPG).

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Patriots, New England (-130) opened as the favorite over New Orleans (+118) on the moneyline, and remain favorites heading into the game. The Saints have not won in New England since December 1995.

The spread opened at 3 but has slipped as low as 1 with some sportsbooks. The Saints (4-1-0 ATS) have failed to cover the spread just once this season while the Patriots (2-3-0 ATS) have been struggling against the spread. New England has also struggled historically against the spread when playing New Orleans, compiling a 1-7-0 ATS record over the last eight meetings and a 1-4-0 ATS record when playing the Saints in Foxborough.

The over/under opened at 50 and has shifts one-half point in either direction, depending on where you choose to bet. Despite its prowess on offense, New Orleans (1-4-0) has favored the under, as has New England (1-4-0).

Bye: Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins (3-2) will use this week’s bye to devise a scheme that better supports quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has been sacked 24 times in five games. That figure represents six more sacks than the next quarterback on the list (Geno Smith, 18 sacks).

Having dropped two straight following a 3-0 start to the campaign, the Dolphins will host Buffalo in Week 7 (Sun., Oct. 20), the Dolphins’ first divisional game of the season.

AFC_East_wk5For a full list of Week 6 NFL odds, click here.

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