The Cleveland Browns are suddenly 2-2 just when they seemed to have thrown in the towel with the Trent Richardson trade. They host the Buffalo Bills (2-2) in Week 5 action at FirstEnergy Stadium Thursday night, and the Browns are a rare favorite against a team that struggles on the road.
Point spread: Browns opened as 3-point favorites; the total was 41. (Line updates and Matchup report)
Computer Prediction: 17.1-16.8 Bills
Why the Bills can cover the spread
Buffalo ranks second in the league in rushing at 152 yards per game, just beat the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens and lost in Week 1 to the Patriots on a field goal at the buzzer. Also, while rookie quarterback EJ Manuel threw two picks Sunday against Baltimore, he's only thrown three on the season.
So at least he's trying to take care of the ball. The Browns have very little history and merit very little faith as a home favorite.
Why the Browns can cover the spread
Cleveland has won two games in a row under substitute QB Brian Hoyer, who's thrown for 590 yards and five scores and directed the Browns on a late game-winning drive against the Vikings two weeks ago.
Also, the Cleveland defense ranks third overall, allowing 292 YPG, and fourth against the run, giving up just 79 YPG on the ground. The Bills struggle as an underdog and as a road team (2-14 past 16 games away from home).
The OddsShark computer predicts Buffalo to win a tight, low-scoring affair Thursday night in Cleveland, but Hoyer seems to have provided a spark and the Browns own the better defense. On top of that, the Browns might also benefit from a raucous home crowd on a national TV night. It may sound risky, but give the points with Cleveland.
Bills 2-8 ATS past 10 as road underdog
UNDER is 12-3 past 15 Cleveland home games