Tonight’s game between the Browns and Bills is not what you’d call a sexy match-up. Both teams are from unexciting Midwestern-y towns. Both teams are 2-2. Both teams have a history of mediocrity, if not worse. Both teams are on back-up options at QB. So what do we have to look forward to? If nothing else, my SuperContest picks!
The Bills have been rolling out EJ Manuel since Kevin Kolb suffered what is probably a career-ending concussion in the preseason. He isn’t doing great exactly, but he also isn’t the worst QB in the league, which is a positive when you’re forced to start a rookie when you weren’t planning to. Buffalo is tied for 25th in yards per pass attempt, but so far Manuel is above average when it comes to interceptions (meaning he’s thrown fewer than average) and he’s done a passable job of avoiding sacks. Combined with his one fumble, he’s mostly looking after the ball. The running game hasn’t been helping him too much, with its league-average yards per rush.
On the other side, Brian Hoyer is doing a pretty good job of replacing Brandon Weeden. He has a better completion percentage, better yards per attempt, more touchdowns, fewer sacks, and the same number of interceptions in a few more attempts. That being said, all their numbers are still worse than Manuel’s. And somehow McGahee has a lower yards per carry than Richardson did before he was traded. Overall, the Bills offense is ahead of the Browns’.
On defense, both teams do a decent job of getting to the quarterback, and the Bills have the advantage in terms of interceptions. But where the Browns really shine is pass defense; they lead the league in yards given up per attempt. The Bills are about average, so they’re no slouch, but there’s a big difference and this is an important category. The Browns also lead the league in run defense while the Bills are slightly below average. Cleveland will not play many pretty games, but their defense will keep them in a lot of them.
So we have an offensive advantage in the Bills going against a defensive advantage in the Browns. Shake the numbers all together and give the Browns home field, and the models like Buffalo to cover the four point spread I see at the Hilton. At least that’s what Luigi and Yoshi 2 think; Yoshi 1 sees the Browns just covering those 4 points, although not by enough to make it a strong decision. Hopefully the game will be entertaining enough to justify these two getting their own post.
Speaking of strong decisions, what are the SuperContest picks? Luigi is going straight for my heart with its top pick of Jacksonville +11.5. On the one hand, who would trust the Jaguars at all? On the other hand, who would take the Rams by double digits over anyone? Man. The other four picks are Jets +9.5, Houston +6.5, Philly +2.5, and Dallas +7.5. I can’t say I’m in love with any of these, but that’s how I felt last week and Luigi went 4-1, so we’ll see. Luigi’s outright win picks, for those of you in pick ’em leagues: Browns, Saints, Pats, Packers, Chiefs, Colts, Rams, Dolphins, Eagles, Panthers, Broncos, Chargers, 49ers, Falcons.
Yoshi 1’s SuperContest picks: Colts +3, Cowboys +7.5, Jaguars +11.5, Eagles +2.5, and Houston +6.5. Yoshi 2’s are Jaguars, Colts, Cowboys, Texans, and Jets (with the Eagles being close behind those last four). So in terms of a consensus, the three models like the Colts, Jaguars, Cowboys, Texans, Jets, and Eagles to cover. The Jets are just a bit lower than the rest for Yoshi 1 and the Colts are a bit lower for Luigi.