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Bills-Browns recap: Win probability metrics highlight a game never really in doubt

A balanced Buffalo attack offensively sparked the sorely-needed, get-right win

Cleveland Browns v Buffalo Bills Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After two disappointing losses in a row and a valiant effort from the Buffalo community to get the players shoveled out of their driveways, the Buffalo Bills beat the Cleveland Browns, 31-23, at Ford Field in Detroit, MI. Many Bills fans believed playing in a dome was exactly what Buffalo needed for quarterback Josh Allen to get back on track and, ultimately, to win the game and improve to 7-3.

Allen and the offense got back on track, scoring their first second-half touchdown since Week 6 and committing zero turnovers for the second time this season. On the other side of the ball stood an injury-riddled defense, but the returns of both safety Jordan Poyer and linebacker Matt Milano provided the extra spark needed to flash just enough dominance in key moments.

After a game of back-and-forth win probabilities against the Minnesota Vikings, ESPN Analytics showed that the Browns game was in doubt for all but ten seconds. The metrics favored the Browns for just 10 seconds in the second quarter after the Bills punted following a three-and-out, and while Cleveland was leading 10-3. However, a Jacoby Brissett fumble two plays later was the turning point in the game, and where the metrics favored Buffalo for the remainder of the afternoon.

Let’s take a look at some key moments in win probability changes and why ESPN Analytics favored Buffalo from the first play of the game to the last.

First quarter, 8:56 remaining — BUF with a 65.8% win probability: The Browns orchestrated a dominant 9-play, 75-yard drive resulting in a 25-yard contested touchdown catch by wide receiver Amari Cooper. The defense looked unprepared, yet the metrics still favored the Bills by 15% without them even touching the ball. That’s what happens when your quarterback is a cyborg.

Second quarter, 8:51 remaining — CLE with a 51.4% win probability: This would be the only point in the game where the Browns were favored by the win probability metrics. Buffalo’s offense wasn’t generating much, and the Browns were already leading 10-3, but Brissett fumbled a few plays later. Following the fumble and a Tyler Bass field goal, the Bills were favored the rest of the game.

Second quarter, 0:14 remaining — BUF with a 76.5% win probability: Following a beautiful 11-play, 78-yard drive in less than two minutes, the Bills saw their win probability shoot up to over 75%. The offensive play calling was top-tier and kept the Browns guessing by running the ball here and there. It ended with a touchdown catch by Stefon Diggs, on his first target of the game.

Third quarter, 4:46 remaining — BUF with a 90.6% win probability: At this point, the Bills had just scored their first second-half touchdown since Week 6. The drive was a quick four-play, 73-yard drive ending in a Devin Singletary touchdown. This is where the Bills would normally abandon the run game completely, but they stuck to it and it paid off. Both Singletary and James Cook rotated all throughout the second half, but this was a Singletary drive.

Fourth quarter, 6:45 remaining — BUF with a 99.8% win probability: Walking into the fourth quarter with a 22-10 lead, the metrics favored Buffalo heavily, as it was at least 90% for the entire quarter. Tyler Bass made six field goals, with three of them coming in the last quarter alone. The offense couldn’t find the end zone, but the refs were making it much harder than it needed to be. The Browns scored two touchdowns late—both coming in prevent defense—so the score looks much closer than the game really was.

The past two weeks have been miserable for Bills Mafia, but the team got back on track with a win in Week 11. Allen recorded his second clean game of the 2022 season after throwing two interceptions in three straight games, the offense didn't abandon the run game, and key defensive players returned to the lineup. The Bills are back in second place in the AFC East, tied with the Miami Dolphins at 7-3. They now have a chance to play in a dome for the second straight week, this time against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.