The Browns might be for real. So might the Bills.
Or neither of them should be believed.
Hard to tell, and regardless of their credentials, Cleveland and Buffalo enter Thursday night’s game with 2-2 records and off impressive victories. The Browns (No. 19 in the AP Pro32) beat division favorite Cincinnati last Sunday, while the Bills (No. 20, AP Pro32) stunned defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Cleveland — which got both of its victories after trading away its best offensive player, running back Trent Richardson — is a 4½-point favorite. Credit a stingy defense that ranks third overall for the Browns’ turnaround.
The Browns are allowing just 2.9 yards per carry, a league low.
“No one is going to be able to run on us this year,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “As long as we stay healthy and continue to grind the tape out and do what we need to do on Sunday, I don’t think anyone will be able to run on us.”
Buffalo might not be the best test. Starter C.J. Spiller is battling an ankle problem and fellow running back Fred Jackson has a knee injury.
That should be enough to give Cleveland a third straight victory. BROWNS, 20-17
No. 1 Denver (minus 7) at No. 17 Dallas
Can’t see the Cowboys slowing down Peyton and gang. BEST BET: BRONCOS, 33-23
No. 4 New England (plus 1½) at No. 15 Cincinnati
Shouldn’t the Patriots be favored? UPSET SPECIAL: PATRIOTS, 27-20
No. 3 New Orleans (pick’em) at No. 9 Chicago
Great at home, Saints must show they are at least good on road. SAINTS, 31-26
No. 2 Seattle (minus 2½) at No. 6 Indianapolis
Delicious matchup of Luck vs. Wilson, but defense decides this one. SEAHAWKS, 20-16
No. 12 Houston (plus 7) at No. 7 San Francisco
First Seahawks beat Texans, now Niners match it. 49ERS, 23-20
No. 5 Kansas City (minus 3) at No. 13 Tennessee
Chiefs need to be better than in last week’s win. CHIEFS, 20-19
No. 16 Baltimore (plus 3) at No. 10 Miami
Don’t like how Ravens have played away from Baltimore. DOLPHINS, 21-17
No. 12 New York Jets (plus 9½) at No. 18 Atlanta, Monday night
A loss here makes Falcons an also-ran. They aren’t. FALCONS, 24-13
No. 8 Detroit (plus 7) at No. 11 Green Bay
Back from bye, time for Pack to assert itself in division. PACKERS, 37-34
No. 21 Carolina (minus 2) at No. 22 Arizona
Back from bye, Panthers do not assert themselves. CARDINALS, 17-13
No. 16 Philadelphia (plus 2) at No. 30 New York Giants
Giants have to win at some point ... GIANTS, 24-21
No. 14 San Diego (minus 4½) at No. 28 Oakland
Baseball playoffs force change in kickoff time. Not in result, though. CHARGERS, 30-13
No. 32 Jacksonville (plus 11½) at No. 27 St. Louis
Rams were awful last week. Jaguars wish they could get to awful. RAMS, 27-9
The Browns might be for real. So might the Bills.
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Chris Hass and Ryan Hill came up with the big plays down the stretch and, despite shooting less than 40 percent from the floor, the Bison held the Lions 13 points under their season average.
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