Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (-4, 40.5)
What had the makings of a lost season has evolved into a remarkable turnaround for the Cleveland Browns, who will seek their third consecutive victory when they host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night. The Browns appeared to have raised the surrender flag after losing their first two games and trading away star running back Trent Richardson. Instead, third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer has guided Cleveland to two straight wins and into a tie atop the AFC North.
The Bills expected some growing pains with rookie E.J. Manuel as their starting quarterback, but they are coming off an impressive 23-20 home victory over Baltimore to get back to .500. Manuel struggled against the defending Super Bowl champions, but Buffalo rode an impressive ground game and stout defensive performance to stifle the Ravens. The Bills and Browns have split six all-time meetings, with Buffalo prevailing 24-14 in Cleveland last season.TV:
8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE:
Cleveland opened as low as -3 and has moved to -4. The total opened at 41 and moved down to 40.5.WEATHER:
Temperatures in the low 70s with a 61 percent chance of thunder showers and winds blowing south at 6 mph.COVERS POWER RANKINGS:
Buffalo (+5.5) - Cleveland (+3.5) + home field (-3) = Browns -5
ABOUT THE BILLS (2-2, 3-1 ATS):
Buffalo has major injury concerns entering Thursday's matchup as running backs C.J. Spiller (ankle) and Fred Jackson (knee) were both hurt after combining for 164 yards on the ground against Baltimore. Jackson said he has a torn MCL in his left knee but expects to play while X-rays revealed no structural damage for Spiller, who will test the ankle before Thursday's game. Manuel threw for only 167 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and a lost fumble, but Buffalo's defense collected four sacks and intercepted quarterback Joe Flacco five times, including two by rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso.ABOUT THE BROWNS (2-2, 2-2 ATS):
First-year coach Rob Chudzinski is not about to tamper with a winning formula, saying he will stick with Hoyer at quarterback - "Certainly he's been the spark that I had hoped for," the coach said - even though 2012 first-round pick Brandon Weeden is ready to return after missing two games with a thumb injury. Hoyer has developed a great chemistry with tight end Jordan Cameron, who had 10 catches in Sunday's 17-6 win over Cincinnati and has 16 receptions and four touchdowns in the past two games. Cleveland's defense limited the Bengals to 266 total yards, including 63 on the ground in 20 attempts.TRENDS:
* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Bills are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.
* Browns are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.
* Under is 4-1 in Bills last five vs. AFC.
1. The Bills held the Browns to 240 yards in last season's 24-16 win.
2. Hoyer is the first Cleveland QB to win his first two starts since Mark Rypien in 1994
3. Alonso is only the fourth linebacker in league history to intercept four passes in September, a list that includes Hall of Famer Jack Lambert and former Super Bowl MVP Chuck Howley.