Free NFL Picks: Bills at Browns Week 5 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 10/2/2013
When the NFL Network's Thursday night schedule was released this week's Bills-Browns matchup looked like maybe the most unwatchable game of them all. Now? It might be a playoff preview! OK, that's probably not going to happen but it's fair to say both clubs still think they could finally play some extra football. Neither franchise can usually say that 25 percent into a season.
Both are 2-2. The Bills could easily be 3-1 if they had held on in Week 1 against New England. If that were the case, we'd have a three-way tie atop the AFC East right now. That's exactly what we have in the AFC North with the Browns, Ravens and Bengals all at .500. The North and the NFC East are the only two divisions not to have at least one team with a winning record. So, yes the Cleveland Browns, just a few weeks after apparently giving up on the 2013 season could be alone in first place late Thursday night. Wow.
Bills at Browns Betting Story Lines
Is E.J. Manuel the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year thus far? It's not a great group to pick from yet but Manuel has a solid 80.2 rating with five touchdowns. That rating is better than the likes of Joe Flacco and Eli Manning. The league might be catching up to Manuel, however. He has completed less than 46 percent of his passes in the past two weeks, a win over Baltimore and a 27-20 loss at the Jets.
Last week the Bills picked off Flacco five times, a career high for the reigning Super Bowl MVP. That’s pretty good considering three Bills secondary starters were out injured. Buffalo rushed for a season-high 203 yards while holding Baltimore to 24.
Bills starting running back C.J. Spiller looks likely to be a game-time decision on Thursday after he injured his ankle against the Ravens. Buffalo defensive backs Aaron Williams and Leodis McKelvin have been practicing this week and could return to that decimated secondary. Even more promising, Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd fully participated in Tuesday's practice. He hasn't played yet this season due to plantar fasciitis, a foot condition. Byrd had five picks and four forced fumbles a season ago.
Former third-string QB Brian Hoyer, meanwhile, has led the Browns to back-to-back wins since Brandon Weeden went out injured, and Hoyer will start again this week. For some reason Rob Chudzinski won't commit to him as the full-time guy even though Weeden is lousy (and has been medically cleared to return). Hoyer followed up his three touchdown passes in an upset at Minnesota with two more - and no picks - against a very good Cincinnati defense a week ago.
Third-year tight end Jordan Cameron is the AFC version of Jimmy Graham as Cameron has 16 catches for 157 yards and four scores in Hoyer's two starts. The Browns still aren't getting much running production after trading Richardson. Willis McGahee, signed off the street two weeks ago, led Cleveland with 46 yards on 15 carries against Cincinnati.
The Browns' offensive line could welcome right guard Shawn Lauvao back. He hasn't played this season due to a high ankle sprain He practiced all of last week and was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. His replacement, converted tackle Oniel Cousins, hasn't been good. They split first-team reps this week.
Cleveland and Buffalo met Week 3 last season with the visiting Bills winning 24-14. Weeden and Ryan Fitzpatrick were your starting QBs in that one. The win snapped an eight-game road skid for Buffalo. Fred Jackson was out injured for Buffalo and then Spiller left for good in the first quarter. Tashard Choice, who would become a factor should Spiller sit Thursday, rushed for 91 yards on 20 carries.
Bills at Browns Betting Odds and Trends
At BookMaker, the Browns opened as 4-point favorites with a total of 40.5. Buffalo is 3-1 ATS (0-1 on road) and 2-2 over/under (1-0 away). Cleveland is 2-2 ATS (1-1 at home) and 1-3 O/U (0-2 at home). The Bills are 3-11-1 ATS in their past 15 after an ATS win. The Bills are 1-4 ATS in their past five in Week 5. Cleveland is 4-1 ATS in its past five after an ATS win. The Browns are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. the AFC. The under is 4-0 in Buffalo's past four after rushing for at least 150 yards in the previous game. The under is 12-3 in Cleveland's past 15 at home.
Bills at Browns Betting Prediction
Neither of these teams plays much on national TV so it will be a pretty big deal to the players. It's a big night in Cleveland for sure. The Browns will officially welcome Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown into the Ring of Honor at halftime. A city of Cleveland proclamation will make Oct. 3 “Jim Brown Day,” as declared by Mayor Frank G. Jackson.
The road team has won two straight in these quick turnaround games but I'm not sold yet that being at home still isn't a huge advantage. I just think the Chiefs are better than the Eagles and the 49ers much more so than the Rams (past two Thursday games). I like Buffalo getting more than a field goal here, so take the Bills. It should be sloppy and low scoring so look at the ‘under’ as well.
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