It seems like there are half of a dozen inexplicable moneylines and point spreads in every NFL season, and the ATS market (and the moneyline for that matter) for Buffalo at Cleveland in Week 10 is 1 of them.
The Buffalo Bills stand at 6-2, and 5-3 ATS in 2019. None of the Bills’ wide receivers, running backs, or defensive backs are seriously injured. Meanwhile the Cleveland Browns are going through another annual hand-wringing phase after a disappointing 1st half of the season. Baker Mayfield has been a cosmic joke of a QB at times and the club is 2-6 overall and against the spread.
Heck, Cleveland doesn’t even have a winning record vs Buffalo in recent head-to-head action.
But for whatever reason, the Browns are a (-2.5) Las Vegas favorite in the match-up between the teams this Sunday.
Who: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
When: Sunday, November 10th, 1 PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Lines: BUF (+2.5) at CLE (-2.5) / O/U Total: (40.5)
It’s not that the Buffalo pass offense is doing anything special. Josh Allen ranks 20th in the league in passing attempts, but has been only relatively-efficient with a 61% completion percentage. The 2nd-year QB is a threat with his legs in the Red Zone, and that factor has helped the club emerge from October with a nice record.
Allen’s fumbling is a still a huge problem, despite how lucky the Bills have been at recovering his bobbles. He has fumbled 10 times but lost just 3.
Buffalo is clearly a run-first team, and fans have been watching a changing of the guard at the RB position in favor of youth over experience. Rookie Devin Singletary has finally supplanted the ageless Frank Gore in terms of snaps over the last couple of weeks, and last week Singletary had his best game to date with a 20-95-1 stat line. Meanwhile, Gore has rushed for just 49 yards on 20 carries in his last 2 games.
The Bills have a formidable defensive duo in speedy edge-rusher Jerry Hughes and DT Jordan Phillips, who leads the squad with 6 sacks. On top of that, they have a pair of expert tackling safeties on the back end in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, who have already combined for 61 tackles and 3 forced fumbles.
Buffalo’s defense ranks 3rd in the NFL in points allowed with an average of just 16.375 PPG.
So why would Cleveland be favored to whip a solid and steady team which is doing all of the little things that the Browns screw up on a weekly basis?
Since beating the Ravens 40-25 in Week 4, Freddie Kitchens’ bunch has hit a tough stretch of the schedule, suffering 4 straight losses in a row. Baker Mayfield has struggled enough to drop to 19th-ranked QB in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. The 2nd year quarterbacks QBR has dropped to 71.3, and his TD/INT ratio is a dismal 7:12. Mayfield is not getting any help from his offensive line either, as he is getting sacked close to 3 times per game. But you can’t say his indecision in the pocket isn’t to blame as well. Opposing players are taking delight in cutting the brash signal-caller down to size:
Nick Bosa didn’t forget. The former Ohio State Buckeyes and current San Francisco 49ers defensive end seems to hold a grudge. After Bosa got sacked Baker Mayfield at the end of the first half in Monday night’s game with the Browns, the 49er celebrated by pretending to plant a flag in the Cleveland Browns’ offensive backfield.
Oh yes, it’s a reference to Mayfield’s flag-planting antics at Oklahoma. Mayfield quarterbacked a Sooners team which upset Bosa’s Buckeyes, 31-16, in Ohio in 2017. After the win, Mayfield grabbed an Oklahoma flag and planted it in the middle of the field at Ohio State stadium.
Cleveland’s offense is fighting simply to put substantial points on the board, but figures to get a boost with the return of RB Kareem Hunt. Nick Chubb has been by far the most consistent contributor, on pace for over 1,600 rushing yards and 12 TD’s, but Kitchens has said Hunt will play a huge role Sunday.
Defensively, Cleveland has been stout up front, as former 1st-overall pick Myles Garrett is emerging among the best pass rushers in the league with 10 sacks. But the secondary has underperformed. CB Denzel Ward, a 4th-overall pick out of Ohio State in the 2018 draft, has been close to a bust.
Having to cut former DB Jermaine Whitehead after the athlete made racist and threatening remarks on social media? That’s just another distraction for a club that’s had too many of them. Find “Browns” trending on Twitter and the immediate reaction is “uh-oh, who made a jackass out of himself today?”
There is no logical reason for Cleveland to be favored in this contest at all – the line appears to be mispriced (or “misplaced” since it’s a spread and not technically a price) by at least 6 or 7 points.
Go all-in on the Buffalo Bills to cover or win straight-up.