NFL Picks: Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns

David Lawrence

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 1:46 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 1:46 PM UTC

The Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns figured to be horrible this season, given their utter lack of proven quarterback play. Let's look at the betting odds for the game.

NFL Football Betting 

Yet, after four weeks in the NFL season, the two teams are both 2-2, meaning that the winner of this game will have a winning record after five weeks, a most improbable occurrence. Both teams have won a game against a half-decent team, too: Buffalo defeated the defending Super Bowl champions from Baltimore last weekend (although the Ravens look like a shell of their former selves), and Cleveland beat a talented Cincinnati bunch this past weekend. This game looked like a complete dog on the schedule. Now, it at least has some meaning attached to it… but don’t expect this game to be pretty. A few years ago, Cleveland won in Buffalo by a 6-3 score in one of the worst NFL games of the past 10 years. This game should be better… but don’t expect a clinic from either side.

Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns

Odds: Browns -4

The Bills can win because…

They should be able to contain Cleveland’s offense. They also stand a reasonable chance of being able to snag some turnovers. The Bills plucked five interceptions from the Baltimore Ravens this past week. Kiki Alonso was a playmaking machine for Buffalo’s defense, which continued to safeguard a lead and do the heavy lifting while the offense stalled in the second half. Buffalo’s cornerbacks are vulnerable, but Cleveland’s receivers are not all that special. The Browns scored only 17 points last weekend against Cincinnati and are anything but a finished product on the offensive side of the ball.

Brian Hoyer is 2-0 as a starter this season, but wins over Minnesota and Cincinnati do not prove that he has somehow arrived as a quarterback. It’s true that Hoyer is a better game manager and that he’s not making the big mistake, two attributes that can make a bad team into an average one in the NFL. However, Hoyer is not displaying a lot of playmaking flair – he showed some against Minnesota but came back to earth against Cincinnati. Hoyer has been not just a backup for most of his career, but a third-stringer instead of a second-stringer. Buffalo can make him look really bad and that would enable the Bills to win and cover on the NFL odds

The Browns can win because… 

Their defense can smother Buffalo to an even greater extent than the Bills can hold down Cleveland’s offense. Cleveland’s defense didn’t beat just anyone this past Sunday. The Browns limited Cincinnati – with A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham and Giovani Bernard and Mohamed Sanu – to just six points. That’s a spectacular defensive performance, one that bodes well for a team that gets to stay at home and host a Buffalo team that must pack up and travel for a Thursday game. It’s true that Buffalo and Cleveland are not far apart, but playing at home and sleeping in one’s own bed should give the Browns a slight extra edge during a short week. Experts who make their NFL picks know that Cleveland should be able to find the right answers to Buffalo rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel. 

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Outlook & NFL Football Betting Prediction: 

The Bills and Browns should trade punches in a defensive slugfest, but as this game moves into the second half, expect Manuel to make more mistakes than Hoyer, enabling Cleveland to win by a touchdown. Take them with your sports picks to cover the spread.

NFL Football Picks: Browns -4 at William Hill

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