One team is 6-2 and tied for second place in the AFC standings. The other is 2-6 and riding a four-game losing streak. Yet when the Buffalo Bills (6-2) travel to Cleveland to face the Browns (2-6), the Bills will be underdogs, according to the wizards of odds in Las Vegas.
Cleveland opened as a 2.5-point favorite, despite losing four straight games by a combined margin of 114-63. For context, those losses came against the San Francisco 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks, the New England Patriots and the (gulp) Denver Broncos, teams with a combined record of 26-9.
Buffalo, meanwhile, has its best record after nine weeks since the 1993 season, when the Bills started 7-1 en route to their fourth consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
For reference, home teams are usually gifted three points in the handicapping process, so on a neutral field, Buffalo would be the slight favorite.
Digging into the gambling metrics, through nine weeks, the Browns have gone 2-6 against the spread (ATS), tied for the worst effort among the teams in the NFL, while the Bills have gone 5-3 ATS, tied for the third-best mark.
This is the second time in four weeks a Browns’ squad will be involved in a game where a team with a sub-.500 record is favored to beat a team with a winning record. In Week 6, these same Browns were 2-3 and favored to beat league MVP candidate Russell Wilson and the 4-1 Seahawks by one point. Cleveland suffered a 32-28 loss in that game.