What to watch for: The Bills own the NFL's top red zone offense, while the Browns have one of the worst. Star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. has only three red zone targets the entire season. After going 1-of-5 in the red zone last weekend, will Cleveland finally be able to get OBJ involved near the end zone? -- Jake Trotter
Bold prediction: Bills wide receiver John Brown will finish with a game high in receiving yards. Brown is quietly on pace for a career-high 1,200 receiving yards and is Josh Allen's unquestioned top target. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques
Stat to know: Buffalo running back Devin Singletary had a career-high 140 scrimmage yards vs. the Redskins in Week 9, the most by a Bills player in the past two seasons and the most by a Bills rookie running back since Marshawn Lynch in 2007. He is seeking to become first Bill with 140-plus yards from scrimmage in consecutive games since LeSean McCoy had two separate two-game streaks in 2016.
Louis-Jacques' pick: Bills 17, Browns 14
Trotter's pick: Bills 21, Browns 20
This was the hardest game of the week to pick. Watching Baker Mayfield hesitate before targeting open receivers and failing to connect on routine throws is painful. He's having the rookie season he bypassed last year, struggling to maintain his usual bravado during the first real rough patch he's experienced on the field since his freshman year at Texas Tech. If only he had Josh Allen's fortune. The 6-2 Bills have won a lot of close games against the league's worst teams and carry underlying statistics that suggest they could easily be 2-6 with different circumstances. Buffalo's overall efficiency and estimated wins total both rank just below the Browns, according to Football Outsiders, suggesting that a market correction is coming soon. For the sake of Baker's postgame outfit, here's to it happening this week.
Cleveland Browns 21, Buffalo Bills 20
Bills at Browns (-2.5)
What the what? The Browns are FAVORITES here? I know, home game yadda yadda yadda. But c’mon. I can’t honestly bet on Baker Mayfield to thrive here.
At a certain point, we just have to adjust our preseason expectations. The Browns are bad, and bettors have made a lot of money going against them. I don’t think Buffalo is necessarily a great team, but it’s better than Cleveland.
MDS’s take: The Browns simply can’t be as bad as they’ve looked so far this season. I think a big special teams play will make the difference, and the Bills will stumble on the road.
MDS’s pick: Browns 17, Bills 16.
Florio’s take: It’s now or never for the Browns. And it could indeed be never. But they’re due to win at home, where they’ve generated an 0-3 record so far this season.
Florio’s pick: Browns 24, Bills 20.
Bills (+3) over Browns:I know the Bills aren’t darlings when it comes to advanced stats, but the Browns just lost to Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen making his first NFL start. And now we’re supposed to believe the Browns should be favored by a field goal over what looks like a sure AFC playoff team?
We are at the point in the Browns’ season where Baker Mayfield is being asked to explain his facial hair choices (note: Mayfield and the QBs agreed to grow mustaches as part of Movember).
“The original thought for me was to have a handlebar because I was undefeated before Sunday with the handlebar mustaches,” Mayfield said, per The Athletic’s Pat McManamon. “So I shaved it off (after the loss) because I didn’t deserve it.”
I can’t tell if this is a good sign that Mayfield took the loss hard or a bad sign that he was thinking about the wrong things or a reflection of my own life failings that I’m writing about a grown man’s mustache. Let’s just move on. If you look at advanced metrics like Football Outsiders’ DVOA, these are actually two similar teams in terms of play-by-play performance. The Browns just do stupid stuff on a weekly basis, and the Bills are very well-coached.
The pick: Bills (+3)
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (-3)
Pick: Buffalo Bills +3
Buffalo’s pass rush should be the difference here. According to Pro Football Focus, Buffalo has the fifth-best pass rushing unit of 2019 and Cleveland sports the 20th best pass-blocking unit. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, meanwhile, sees his passer rating drop from 83.0 in a clean pocket to 40.8 when facing pass pressure this year. For comparison, a player will get a 39.6 passer rating for throwing the ball into the dirt. The favored Browns, in general, are a hot mess, while the Bills are 6-2.
The Bills (6-2) have been thoroughly outplayed only once this season (a Week 8 loss to Philadelphia). In the other games, Buffalo’s defense put on a show and its offense found a way to survive. The Browns (2-6), meanwhile, seem to find new dysfunction weekly. Their losing streak, which began in October, was understandable considering the opponents (San Francisco, Seattle, New England), but turned ugly when Brandon Allen and the lowly Broncos stretched it to four games. Cleveland has a ton of talent, but it does not appear that quarterback Baker Mayfield knows what to do with it.
Pick: Bills +2.5
Scroll through to view photos of every player currently on the Bills 53-man roster along with updates on their play to this point through 8 games.