Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills
Ralph Wilson Stadium – Orchard Park, New York
Sunday, November 30, 2014, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Buffalo -2
Current Line: Buffalo -3 (-115)
Opening Total: 41
Current Total: 42
Opening Money Line: Bills -150 / Browns +130
Current Money Line: Bills -180 / Browns +160
The 7-4 Cleveland Browns travel across Lake Erie to take on the 6-5 Buffalo Bills in a battle of AFC playoff contenders Sunday. After last week’s home game against the New York Jets was moved to Detroit from Buffalo because of heavy snow, there was some doubt as to whether this game would be played in Buffalo or moved as well. The game will be played in Buffalo though. The Browns are tied for second in the AFC North, but all four teams are within a half game of each other. The Bills are tied with the Miami Dolphins for second in the AFC East three games behind the New England Patriots. Cleveland and Buffalo are part of a 9 team jumble of teams within a game of each other likely fighting for 4 spots in the playoffs.
Since 2004, Cleveland leads the series 4-3 against Buffalo. The Browns won last season in Cleveland 37-24. Cleveland has not played in Buffalo since 2010.
Cleveland is coached by Mike Pettine. The surprising Browns have won 5 of their last 7 games. Cleveland has road losses at the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-27 and Jacksonville Jaguars 24-6, along with home losses to the Baltimore Ravens 23-21 and Houston Texans 23-7. The Browns have home wins over the New Orleans Saints 26-24, Steelers 31-10, Oakland Raiders 23-13 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22-17, along with road wins over the Tennessee Titans 29-28, Cincinnati Bengals 24-3 and Atlanta Falcons 26-24 last week. Cleveland is 6-3-2 ATS this season and the total is 5-6. The Browns were 3 point underdogs against the Falcons and the total was 48.5.
Buffalo is coached by Doug Marrone. The Bills have home losses to the San Diego Chargers 22-10, Patriots 37-22 and the Kansas City Chiefs 17-13, along with road losses at the Houston Texans 23-17 and against the Miami Dolphins 22-9. Buffalo has lost two straight games. Buffalo has road wins at the Chicago Bears 23-20 in overtime, Detroit Lions 17-14, and New York Jets 43-23. The Bills have home wins over the Dolphins 29-10, Minnesota Vikings 17-16 and last week against the Jets 38-3 in Detroit. Buffalo is 5-6 ATS and the total is 2-9 this season. The Bills were 2.5 point favorites against the Jets and the total was 42.
Cleveland is outscoring teams 22-20 this season. The Browns are #8 in points allowed. Cleveland is averaging 367 yards per game on offense including 251 passing and 116 rushing yards. The Browns are #13 or better in all three categories. On defense, the Browns are allowing 367 yards per game including 233 passing and 135 rushing yards. Cleveland is #21 in total defense and #29 in rush defense, but the pass defense is #9. The Browns are 50/156 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 69/177. Cleveland has forced 23 sacks and allowed 18 this season. The Browns are +7 in turnovers. Cleveland has one defensive touchdown this season.
Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer has completed 55.9% of his passes for 2,864 yards with 11 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He has done just enough to hold off rookie Johnny Manziel for the starting job. Running back Terrance West has 126 carries for 470 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 8 catches and a touchdown. Isaiah Crowell has 90 carries for 446 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 5 catches. Ben Tate was released last week. He had 106 carries for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns plus 9 catches.
Receiver Andrew Hawkins has 50 catches for 694 yards and 2 touchdown. Taylor Gabriel has 30 catches for 540 yards with a touchdown. Miles Austin has 40 catches for 482 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Jordan Cameron has 13 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. He is out with a concussion. Travis Benjamin has 15 catches for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receiver Josh Gordon had 8 catches for 120 yards in his return from a season long suspension. Eight defensive players are listed as questionable or out for the Browns.
Buffalo is outscoring teams 22-19 this season. The Bills are #5 in points allowed. Buffalo is averaging 323 yards per game including 226 passing and 98 rushing yards per game. The Bills are #20 or worse in all three categories. On defense, Buffalo is allowing 312 yards per game including 214 passing and 98 rushing yards. The Bills are #8 or better in all defensive categories. Buffalo is 62/165 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 56/160. The Bills have forced 46 sacks and allowed 27 this season. Buffalo is +8 in turnovers. The Bills have one special teams and a defensive touchdown and has allowed 2 defensive touchdowns.
Buffalo quarterback Kyle Orton took over for the ineffective E.J. Manuel. Orton has completed 65.4% of his passes for 1,810 yards with 12 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Manuel threw for 838 yards with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and rushed for 52 yards with a touchdown.
Running backs Fred Jackson (groin) and C.J. Spiller (broken collarbone) are both battling injuries. Jackson returned against the Jets after missing several games. Spiller is likely out for the season. Jackson has 281 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns along with 40 catches for 313 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Dixon has been the feature back without Jackson and Spiller. Dixon has 80 carries for 332 yards and a touchdown, along with 6 catches.
Receiver Sammy Watkins has 48 catches for 684 yards and 5 touchdowns. Robert Woods has 45 catches for 479 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. Tight end Scott Chandler has 29 catches for 335 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chris Hogan has 27 catches for 312 yards and 2 touchdowns. Seven defensive players are listed on the injury report. Kicker Dan Carpenter is probable with a groin injury.
Cleveland is 4-1 ATS on turf, 3-1-1 after gaining more than 350 total yards, after passing for more than 250 yards, and in road games, 3-7 against teams with winning home records, 4-10-1 in week #13, 0-3-1 after a cover, and 0-5 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards.
Buffalo is 6-2 ATS when playing on Sunday after a Monday night game, 10-24-2 against teams with winning road records, 2-5 in November and against AFC teams, 7-19-1 after a cover, and after allowing less than 15 points, 9-25-1 after a straight up win, 5-16 after a straight up win by 14 points or more, 1-4 at home and against teams with winning records, 1-5 in week #13 and after allowing less than 250 total yards, 0-4 after scoring more than 30 points, and on turf. The favorite is 5-2 ATS in this series recently.
As December approaches this is almost a must win game for both teams. More so for Buffalo because they are a game behind. Cleveland must win to keep pace in the rugged AFC North which is the first division in NFL history to have all four teams be at least 3 games over .500. It should be an emotional, frenzied crowd after last week’s game was moved. I think the Bills win a close low scoring game.