Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (-1, 40 o/u)
Even though the Cleveland Browns left their first preseason game with a loss, they saw good things from their quarterbacks, and they’ll be hoping for more of the same when they host the Buffalo Bills this Thursday at FirstEnergy Stadium (8:00 PM Eastern).
The Browns lost 20-17 to the Washington Redskins in their preseason opener, but starting QB Josh McCown went 5-5 for 33 yards and a touchdown, while second-year backup Johnny Manziel went 5-10 for 64 yards and found the end zone on a scramble up the middle.
Browns head coach Mike Pettine has settled on McCown as the starter, but said Manziel is looking better.
“He [Manziel] made some mistakes,” Pettine told the Associated Press. “All of our guys did. I thought he progressed from the scrimmage.”
On the other side, Buffalo has the same problem as the Browns, lacking a true number-one option at QB; the Bills have three QBs competing for the starting job: Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor, and EJ Manuel. Taylor will get the start this week after throwing for 49 yards, rushing for another 47, and leading two touchdown drives in a narrow 25-24 loss to the Panthers. Cassel went 7-8 for 45 yards, without a score or an interception, while Manuel was 4-8 for 77 yards and a score.
Look for Buffalo’s prized offseason acquisition, RB LeSean McCoy, to get more reps alongside Taylor in an effort to really boost the Bills’ ground game. McCoy’s opener was somewhat disappointing after he racked up just 16 yards on six carries.
New Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan saw his preseason record fall to just 11-14 with last week’s loss, while the win over the ‘Skins was the first for Pettine (1-4) with the Browns. Though the Cleveland QBs indeed looked promising last week, remember that it came against a weak Washington D. The Bills defense is among the best in the league, and that should trickle down throughout the second and third team. Take the Bills and the point.
Pick: Buffalo +1.
(Photo credit: Ed Yourdon [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)