New England Patriots keep rolling with seventh-consecutive victory
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) pitches the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, New York, Monday, December 6, 2021

The Detroit Lions finally got their first win in Week 13 of the 2021/20 National Football League (NFL) season last weekend when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings 29-27 after a successful game-closing, scoring drive.

The Vikings had a dreadful first half, which saw them stumble out to a disappointing 6-0 lead in the first quarter courtesy of squandered opportunities on offense, then surrendered 20 unanswered second-quarter points to the team with the worst record in the league. The Vikings then had a second half laced with penalties, failed two-point conversions and poor clock management that stymied their efforts at a comeback but, with all that, they did just enough in the fourth quarter to provide realistic hope for a victory.

The task was a simple one – with a 27-23 lead and Lions' quarterback (QB) Jared Goff needing to drive his team 75 yards with no timeouts in a minute and 50 seconds, the Vikings needed only to play average defense to secure the win. They failed in their effort and handed Detroit their first reason to celebrate this year.

In another quiet moment of celebration, the Miami Dolphins ensured a five-game win streak when they defeated the New York Giants 20-9 last Sunday (December 5). In doing so, Miami became the second team to put together a five-game win streak after enduring a seven-game slide within the same season. The 1994 Giants are the only other team to have accomplished that feat, rattling off six consecutive victories after dropping the previous seven games.

The Dolphins started the season 1-7 but have turned things around over the past five weeks by playing smothering, high-energy defense. They have held opponents to an impressive 11 points per game during the five-game run, allowing 5.11 yards per play on first-down, 10th-best in the NFL this season. Since Week 9, when the win streak began, the Dolphins are tops in the league at 4.19 yards per first-down play.

The Dolphins now occupy the third slot in the American Football Conference (AFC) East Division and sit out this week with their bye but, the bonafide contenders for the division met in the much-anticipated closer for Week 13 on Monday (December 6) in a wind-affected encounter between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills (in Buffalo).

Future hall of fame coach Bill Belichick took the ball out of the hands of rookie QB Mac Jones due to wind gusts over 40 mph and relied on the New England running game. Overall, Jones was 2-of-3 passing for 19 yards, while the run-game registered 222 yards on 46 carries en route to a 14-10 win over the Bills, and their seventh-straight victory.

The three passing attempts are the fewest in Patriots' history (previous fewest was five, in a 3-0 victory over the Dolphins in 1982), while the two completions match their fewest-ever (tied with December 1982 and November 1969 games – both against the Dolphins). Additionally, the three pass attempts were the fewest by any team since the Bills attempted just two in Week 3 of the 1974 season (vs the New York Jets).

The Patriots will regroup during their bye this weekend, but it doesn't get any easier for the Bills (7-5) as they travel to Raymond James Stadium this Sunday (December 12) to tackle the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3). The New England fans will be rooting for QB Tom Brady in this one as a victory would create more distance between them and Buffalo in the division (especially with a rematch against the Bills looming in just a few weeks). An upset could be in the making as the Bills are still stinging from the defeat last Monday, but the Buccaneers are 5-0 at home this season and will be hoping to maintain that unblemished record.

Two hair-raising divisional games are on offer this weekend that should be worth the price of admission. Firstly, the National Football Conference (NFC) East, top of the table clash between the Dallas Cowboys (8-4) and the Washington Football Team (6-6) should provide all-out effort. Washington will be looking to improve on their four-game win streak while Dallas will seek to start their push towards the playoffs. The Cowboys must be given the nod in this one, but it is expected be a difficult trek.

In the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers (9-3) renew rivalries with the Chicago Bears (4-8) at prime time on Sunday night in Green Bay. The Packers have won the last five games against the Bears and 10 of the last 11 overall. And Chicago has not won at Lambeau Field since 2015. The Packers can take a big step towards winning a third-straight NFC North title with a victory, but the Bears are out for payback this weekend.

The Packers won the first meeting this season at Soldier Field, 24-14 after which their QB Aaron Rodgers infamously shouted, “I own you!” to the Chicago fans (Rodgers has won 22 of 27 games against the Bears). The Bears have lost six of the last seven games after starting the season 3-2 and are in danger of falling off the play-off trajectory. But emotions are raw from the first encounter and the defenders are expected to tee-off on Rodgers Sunday night. The Packers should win, but only if Rodgers can survive the onslaught – Don't miss it!

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Super Bowl LVI Champion

Team Odds

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6.00

Kansas City Chiefs 7.25

Arizona Cardinals 8.00

New England Patriots 8.00

Green Bay Packers 8.50

Buffalo Bills 11.00

Dallas Cowboys 13.00

Los Angeles Rams 13.00

Baltimore Ravens 16.00

Los Angeles Chargers 21.00

*Only Top 10 odds shown (see website for full list)

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