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 tonight’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. 23 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
• 2013 RECORD:
Against spread: 8-7 (31-29-3). Straight up: 7-8 (40-23).
Best Bet: 3-1 against spread, 4-0 straight up.
Upset special: 1-3 against spread, 1-3 straight up.