The Cleveland Browns look to return to a .500 season, and a victory against the Buffalo Bills is a must before match-ups against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. What to expect in this match-up without playoff implications?
The early spread on this game is Bills (-1.5). Here are seven of the key aspects and what to watch out for when betting. All stats are from NFL.com unless otherwise noted. Lines from Cooper’s Picks.
#1: Past Five Games
The Bills are 2-3 in their past five games, while the Browns are 3-2. Basically, don’t let the 2-10 vs. 5-7 records deceive you too much about the current state of these teams.
#2 Buffalo Bills vs. AFC North
The Bills have taken the Steelers and Ravens to overtime while defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 49-31 in their last victory. Overall, the Bills have matched up well with the AFC North teams.
#3 Cleveland Browns vs. AFC East
The Browns have taken the Jets to overtime, defeated the Miami Dolphins on a game ending field goal last week, and dominated the New England Patriots. Overall, the Browns have also been competitive against AFC East teams.
The Browns are tied for seventh in the NFL with a +7 turnover ratio. The Bills are tied for fifth worst at -8. Against the Minnesota Vikings last week, the Bills lost the turnover battle, 5-4.
#5: Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense
The Bills surrendered over 200 yards rushing to the Vikings. Adrian Peterson accounted for 107 yards on 16 carries, but Toby Gerhart also accumulated 54 yards on twelve carries. Peyton Hillis could be the NFL’s most surprising star, and he is the style of running back that could hurt the Bills. A strong game would likely eliminate the turnover potential from the Browns unstable quarterback play.
#6 Cleveland Browns competitive
The Browns have lost seven games, six of those by a combined 32 points with one coming in overtime. The only game they really struggled was against the Steelers in a 28-10 defeat, and that game was competitive until the fourth quarter.
The early injury report has Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace listed as day to day. The Browns rely more on defense and rushing, but Jake Delhomme is turnover prone and almost a guarantee to spot his opponents seven points.
Both teams have been similar in playing a lot of tight ball games. The Bills almost never finish, but the Browns have gotten better throughout the season. After their game against the Vikings, I question the Bills commitment. They’ve already won two games, so players probably want to reserve themselves. The Browns are still playing solid and haven’t packed it in.
Bills are 1-5 at home and the Browns just won in Miami, so home field isn’t much of a factor. Poor weather conditions probably favors the Browns because of their rushing offense, defense, and commitment. I like the Browns here as I think they can pull off a victory in the closing minutes better than the Bills. However, look out for the QB status in this game.
Against the Spread: Cleveland Browns (+1.5)
Straight: Cleveland Browns
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Cooper’s Picks, December 5, 2010.
NFL.com, December 5, 2010.
Bills and Vikings Box Score, December 5, 2010.
Injury Reports, Covers.com. December 5, 2010.