Cleveland Browns vs. Buffalo Bills (11/10/19): NFL Betting Picks Lines

Last Week: 10-3
All-Time Results: 64-55-1, +10.31 Units

Cleveland Browns -2.5 (-120) vs. Buffalo Bills- .25 Units

Let’s start with the obvious.  This is the double-take line of the week.  Anyone remotely aware of the goings of the NFL this season will wonder, rightfully: why are the 2-6 Browns FAVORED against the 6-2 Bills.

Here is why the teams are much closer than they appear at first blush. 1.) Match-up Advantage – the Browns will run all over the Bills – and 2.) Strength of Schedule edge: The Bills have beat up on bad teams, skewing their statistics.

Bills Strength of Schedule: Undefeated Against the Dregs of the NFL

buffalo billsRead a great stat from Warren Sharp the other day.

Over the last 2 years (2o18 + this current season) the Bills have faced an opponent ranked in the top half of offensive DVOA 8 times.  In those games, they are 0-8 and lose by an average score of 29-9.  So when we look at their such game – Week 8 against the Eagles – their 31-13 loss is actually not that surprising, falling right in line with their averages against above-average offenses.  With such an abysmal record against teams with decent firepower, how are they 6-2 & big favorites to make the playoffs for the 2nd time in the last 20 years?

Well, let’s review the Bills 6 victories;

1-2 – Buffalo beat both their interstate rivals from New York in the Jets & Giants – yawn.

3 – Had a comeback win against the Bengals at home – double yawn.

4 – Beat the Marcus Mariot-led Titans in a game where the Titans kicker missed 4 field goals.  Not impressed.

5. -Beat the Dolphins barely after being outgained.  Held a 3 point lead in the finals minutes before an onside kick return touchdown ended the competition. Should count as a loss.

6. – Beat the Redskins, who trotted out a starting quarterback in Dwyane Haskins that entered the game with 12 completions and 4 interceptions on the season.  Should count as a tie.

And that’s it.  That’s the list.

While you can only beat the team each week that’s on your schedule – none of these wins are at all impressive.  In their two losses – both at home – they looked much closer to the team that entered last season as the consensus worst team in the NFL than they did a contender.  They have improved – yes.  But despite their record, I’m skeptical that they are an above-average team.

Browns Strength of Schedule: Competitive Against the League’s Best

cleveland brownsThe Browns, in my opinion, are closer to average than they are bad.  They demolished the Ravens in Baltimore.  They played competitive home games against the Seahawks & Rams.   Although they never threatened the Patriots in Foxborough, they played them even on a play-by-play/statistical basis.

Yes, their antics are both hilarious and emblematic of a wayward franchise and a clueless organization. All that said, they play decent football.

Match-Up Advantage for Cleveland on the Ground

Again, the Bills have been killed in every game the past two years against average to above-average offenses.  Of course, this begs the question: are the Browns an above-average offense? Well, no – not exactly.  The Browns are 25th in raw offense according to Football Outsiders DVOA metric, one spot ahead of the Bills.  However, if you look at the rushing success rate only – NON-ADJ RUSH – the Browns are actually decent, 12th in the NFL one spot ahead of the undefeated San Francisco 49ers.

This makes logical sense.  Nick Chubb = good.  The math checks out.  I think he is line for a GREAT day, in a get right game for Cleveland.

When the Bills played the Eagles the winds in the stadium reached 25 miles per hour.  Terrible throwing conditions.  The Eagles had limited weapons outside to start the day anyway – you would think the betting markets would be all over the Bills.

In fact, the reverse happened.  The spread in that game moved from Philly +2 to Pick’Em right before kick-off.  The market did not trust Josh Allen to be able to move the ball at all against the Eagles.  And the market did trust Philly to ground and pound the Bills.

Cleveland is the more desperate team & far more talented on both sides of the ball.  While the Bills have a clear coaching advantage – I actually like Sean McDermott a lot – I don’t think this one is going to be about the X’s & O’s.  I think the Browns roll.

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Bills Not To Make the Playoffs +220 -.1 Unit

Chargers To Make the Playoffs +400 -.25 Unit

los angeles chargersOnly a small bet here.  While I do think the market is a couple points off in their assessment of Buffalo – I’m not sure which middling AFC teams now will arise to take their spots.

The Chargers would be my first pick.  Suddenly getting healthy, they remain one of the best & deepest rosters in all of football.  Phillip Rivers has made miraculous comeback playoff runs before.  With a new offensive coordinator at the helm – and a renewed commitment to the running game – I like their chances to at least remain in the hunt all year.

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Born in Chicago, born for Las Vegas, Mackenzie is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English & Creative Writting. Mackenzie runs AlternativeStats.blog, which seeks to by-pass the minutiae of commonly cited sports statistics and expose the heart of what drives athletic success. After several successful years investing in Las Vegas real estate, Mackenzie is excited to transition in 2019 into betting on sports full time, as well as documenting his thought process as he further learns the craft.

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