It’s getting to a point that the only reason you should be reading this is to know who not to pick. Last week, I went 6-9 against the spread and 8-7 straight up. That brings my season totals to 30-33 against the spread and 41-22 straight up.
Had you simply looked at my picks the past three weeks and made the opposite picks against the spread, then you would have gone 28-19. If I can’t turn it around this week, then I’m going to just basically flip my picks. Whatever my gut tells me, I’ll choose the opposite. It can’t hurt at this point, right?
Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Thursday, October 3 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network
Line: Browns (-4.5)
For a moment consider how long it’s been since either of these two teams could have squared off in a relevant game. Not since 2002, have the Bills and Browns both finished a year .500 or above. And not since 1989, have both these two teams both been playoff teams. The Browns did beat the Bills in the playoffs that year, thanks to a then 26-year old Bernie Kosar.
Now Cleveland is helmed by a 27-year old Brian Hoyer, who alongside wideout Josh Gordon has energized a lackluster Browns offense over the past two weeks. Meanwhile tight end Jordan Cameron continues to kill it and is following in the footsteps of other former basketball players turned successful NFL tight ends.
The Browns defense is playing well and is ascending into a top unit. Arizona should have never gotten rid of Ray Horton! And while it’s surprising to say it, for the third week in a row the Browns have the head-to-head quarterback advantage as Hoyer is outplaying E.J. Manuel. Manuel started the season relatively strong, but has tailed off in recent weeks. Frankly, without getting a combined 203 rushing yards from their ground game and Joe Flacco throwing 5 picks (leading to 13 points), the Bills really had no business winning that game last week. Manuel turned it over three times himself, and if not for Stevie Johnson timely recovery on another fumble it should have been four turnovers. And if they are that sloppy at home, then how are they going to be on the road on a short week?
Especially when they may not be able to counter Manuel’s shoddy play with a ground game since C.J. Spiller will be a game-time decision due to an ankle injury. They are also still beat up in the secondary, as cornerback Stephon Gilmore will miss another week, and now fellow starter Leodis McKelvin may also be out of the lineup. The saving grace for the Bills might be their defensive front, as the Browns have gotten subpar production from their offensive line, particularly on the right side with Oniel Cousins and Mitchell Schwartz. If players like Kyle and Mario Williams can disrupt and prevent Hoyer from connecting with his playmakers in Gordon and Cameron, then the Browns offense really doesn’t have much to go on. Unless you think Willis McGahee has something in the tank. But I’ll still pick the Browns because they are playing at home, and that defense has been rock solid. But if it does become that sort of defensive battle, then that often boils down to a kicking duel between Dan Carpenter (Bills) and Billy Cundiff (Browns). Cundiff missed two kicks last week, so advantage Bills?
Spread Pick: Browns
Straight Pick: Browns