When the 2019 National Football League season began, there was a lot of hype around the Cleveland Browns and their prospects for a big year behind second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield. National advertisers vied for his face to represent their product, and the Browns Super Bowl odds were set at 12 to 1.
At the same time, in Buffalo, the Bills were preparing for their 2019 season behind their second-year quarterback, Josh Allen, without much fanfare. Before the season began, the Bills chances of winning Super Bowl LIV were 90 to 1.
If preseason hype was on target, and these two teams were meeting in the tenth week of the regular season and one of them had only two wins and the other six wins, one might have expected it would be Cleveland with the better win total.
The Bills, behind a sturdy defense, are only one game back in the loss column of the AFC East Division leading New England Patriots. In the AFC North Division, the Browns find themselves in familiar territory, ahead of only the winless Cincinnati Bengals in their division race and currently not a threat to front-runner Baltimore or second place Pittsburgh.
So, now that these two teams with opposite results over the first half of the season, two wins and six losses for Cleveland and six wins and two losses for Buffalo, one might imagine that the Bills would be favored over the struggling Browns. The betting world thinks that, so when the books established the Browns favorites for tomorrow’s game, they figured it was an early holiday gift and took the points with the Bills like it was a sure winner.
If we sort this out, can we get a read on what the thinking is here?
Without much doubt, we can know this, the books like the chances of Cleveland picking up their third win of the season on Sunday and the public disagrees. Which gives us this choice, we can either back the guys who are betting in hopes of making money, or side with the men and women who spend all their time finding the best ways to separate bettors from their money.
This appears to be a classic case of that about to happen.
The line on this game opened with the Bills getting a field goal on the point spread. That inspired more than 70% of the wagers on this game to land on the road underdogs, and each time the books surrender even a little to the public money, dropping the line to the Browns giving 2½ points, the line quickly shifts back to the original three point spread.
Because the books are not the only ones siding with the Browns on Sunday, so are the wiseguys. That is why even though all the public action is piling up on the Bills side, the money is moving the spread. In other words, the smart money adds up to more dollars than the 70% of public action taking the Bills.
Which leaves us with this final choice, we can either side with the public or take a cue from both the books and wiseguys.
Thinking … thinking … thinking …
I’ll go with the professionals and smart money.
Qoxhi Picks: Cleveland Browns (-3) over Buffalo Bills