NFL picks Week 16: Expert predictions for Patriots vs. Bills game

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NFL picks Week 16: Expert predictions for Patriots vs. Bills showdown originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

There are several important divisional games on the Week 16 NFL schedule, but none are more pivotal than the matchup between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium.

The winner will be in first place in the AFC East with two games remaining in the regular season and have an overwhelming chance to finish as the division champion. 

The Patriots are slight betting favorites for this matchup, and rightly so given the fact they beat the Bills 14-10 in Buffalo a few weeks ago and have won seven of their last eight games overall.

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Weather, specifically win and rain, was a huge factor in the first meeting between these teams. The Patriots passed only three times and ran for 222 yards with one touchdown in a 14-10 victory. Sunday's game should look far different. Weather isn't likely to have a big impact on the outcome and the Bills will be highly motivated to avenge their Week 13 loss and hold on to their AFC East crown.

The keys for the Patriots will be avoiding a bad start and limiting turnovers. New England is not built to play from behind, especially against a high-scoring team like the Bills. The Patriots fell behind 20-0 and made many uncharacteristic mistakes (including two turnovers and eight penalties) against the Colts in a Week 15 loss. A similar start would be even tougher to overcome versus the Bills.

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Which team will take a massive step toward winning the division? Here's a roundup of expert predictions for Patriots-Bills (with the predicted score, when given).

Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Patriots 24, Bills 17

Jeremy Fowler, ESPN: Bills

Gregg Rosenthal, Patriots 26, Bills 20

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times: Bills

Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated: Bills

Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated: Patriots

John Breech, CBS Sports: Bills 20, Patriots 17

Nate Davis, USA TODAY Sports: Patriots 30, Bills 17

Bill Bender, Sporting News: Patriots 23, Bills 21

Emmanuel Morgan, New York Times: Patriots -2.5 (ATS pick)

FiveThirtyEight model: Patriots 62 percent, Bills 38 percent