When the Buffalo Bills visit the Cleveland Browns this Thursday 3rd, it will be the hometown boys who will set foot into FirstEnergy Stadium as the NFL sportsbook favorites, thanks to a -4.5 point spread. Despite that, the Bills will certainly be looking to beat the odds once again, as they did this past Sunday when they narrowly defeated defending champions the Baltimore Ravens. Meanwhile, the Browns will be eager to score a third consecutive victory following successful outings against the Vikings and the Bengals, and after inaugurating the season with losses to the Dolphins and the same Ravens that Buffalo bested on Sunday. Both Bills and Browns have a 2-2 record.
This is a season of firsts for Cleveland. This marks the first full season for new owner Jimmy Haslan, as well as the first season for head coach Rob Chudzinski and general manager Michael Lombardi. The Browns hope that it will be also the first season in ten years that they make it to the playoffs. However, if that’s a source of motivation, no NFL team should be more motivated than the Bills, who hold the dubious honor of longest active playoff drought, at a whooping 13 seasons. Finally getting out of that slump would be great for either team, and for their NFL sportsbook bettors.
The ace up Chudzinski’s sleeve will surely be QB Brian Hoyer. Not to sound rude, but erstwhile starting quarterback Brandon Weeden’s sprained thumb injury is probably the best thing that could have happened to Cleveland this season. Certainly it was the opening Hoyer needed to step out of Tom Brady’s shadow from his days as a New England Patriot. It was Hoyer’s ball decisiveness and late game scoring sprees that led to the Brown’s last two victories, and possibly a third one this Thursday, at least according to NFL sportsbook pundits. Whether the Bills have a say in the matter will depend on C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson overcoming the injuries they both sustained while carrying Buffalo to their win over the Ravens. If last season is any indicator, neither Spiller not Jackson is essential to beat the Browns, especially when Tashard Choice is around. Nonetheless, this year’s Brown defense is not the same as that of 2012.