Five Takeaways from Bills’ Win Over Browns

Five Takeaways from Bills’ Win Over Browns
© USA Today

Yesterday’s Buffalo Bills win over the Cleveland Browns, 31-23, was about a team getting its mojo back, while putting the brakes on a two-game slide.

The Bills seemed out of sorts in losses to the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings. That loss against the Vikings, including a last second fumble by quarterback Josh Allen in their end zone, scooped up by the Vikings for touchdown, followed by an Allen pick in the Vikings’ end zone, would have broken a squad with lessor self-confidence. 

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“We have some resilient guys on our team” Allen said Sunday after they beat the Browns, a win that tied them for first place with Miami in the AFC East at 7-3.

Everyone heard about the record-breaking snowstorm in Buffalo over the weekend, forcing the teams to move to Detroit for the game. 

Coach Sean McDermott said afterward they played like a team out of sorts in the first quarter and for a lot of the second – the Bills didn’t have a first down until midway through the second quarter.

But a five-yard strike by Allen to wide receiver Stefon Diggs at the end of the second quarter to give the Bills the lead was the game’s turning point, and you could sense the fog lift after that play. 

“For us to score like that just before the half, given how we were performing up to that point, then getting ball in the second half for the first time all year, and being able to double dip and get some points … that’s a way you can help yourself out,” Allen said. “We put up 31 points but we still didn’t feel like we played up to our standard.”

Allen finished 18-for-27, 197 yards and one TD. And most importantly – no interceptions. Allen is second in the league in picks at 10.

“Back on track,” Diggs told Associated Press after the game.

No. 1: Running game steps up

Rookie running back James Cook, 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, out of Georgia, had a great game against Cleveland, with 86 yards on 11 yards, and paired with Devin Singletary (18 carries for 86 yards) gives the Bills a one-two in the backfield that’s going to be a migraine for NFL teams focused on Allen’s passing arm. The team averaged 5.2 yards per carry on the ground yesterday.

“Devin and James both ran the ball well,” Allen said. “They found holes and our offensive line blocked their tails off. It was a credit to our guys up front. If we can run it like that we’re going to continue to run it. That’s no secret.”

No. 2: Tyler Bass can kick

Did kicker Tyler Bass ever come through – making all six of field goal attempts, four of which came in the second half. 

Included there was a 56-yard field goal.

No. 3: Limiting Nick Chubb

Kudos to the Bills defence for putting a blanket over Browns running back Nick Chubb, the NFL’s third-leading rusher coming into the game. Chubb had just 19 yards on 14 carries yesterday.

Linebacker Matt Milano led the way, with Tremaine Edmunds out of the lineup with a groin injury. Milano is cementing his defensive-player-of-the-year candidacy with 12 tackles, including three for loss, which led the team (tied with Ed Oliver). He also had a fumble recovery and a sack and had two of the six tackles for loss on Chubb. 

Milano had a central play on a first-and-goal with the ball going by direct snap to Chubb. Pressure from Milano, followed by a six-yard loss. 

No. 4: Bills prove their mettle with Ontario sports bettors

The Bills are hugely popular with Ontario-based sports bettors, and that’s becoming even stronger this season with the team playing for a division title.

According to FanDuel, Bills-Browns was the second highest stakes matchup of the 1 p.m. games, trailing only the Eagles and Colts game (likely bettors jumping in live on the Eagles’ 17-16 comeback win). 

Bills money represented four times the Browns money in the moneyline market and 2.5 times in the spread market.

Interesting was the Total: That jumped when the venue change was announced. The Under first opened up last Sunday at 46.5 and quickly got bet down with the expected snow in Buffalo. It ended up at 42.5 before the venue switch to Ford Field was announced and they reopened it at 49.5 (which is where it closed).

FanDuel ended up seeing an interesting 50-50 split in action among the reposted number, including both pre-game and in-play bets. And it was one that had Over bettors happy thanks to a late garbage time touchdown by Donovan Peoples-Jones with just 25 seconds remaining to cash the Over 49.5.

Over at BetRivers, Bills-Browns was the third most wagered-on NFL football in their Ontario market, backed by 19.1 per cent of the total handle. Only the Cowboys-Vikings and Chiefs-Chargers had larger handles in Ontario. Ninety per cent of the handle and 81% of the tickets were on the Bills to win. In Ontario, 72 per cent of the handle and 69 per cent of the tickets were on the Bills to cover.

No. 5: Take a bow Bills Mafia

Sitting in Toronto, we’ve always heard Bills fans, and citizens of Buffalo in general, are a hearty lot. But that was on display this weekend as a record-breaking snowstorm buried the region, forcing the “home” game in Detroit. 

There have been plenty of stories of fans and neighbours helping to dig Bills players out of their homes so they could make the last-minute plane in time and get to Detroit.

Allen was particularly effusive in his appreciation. He talked about neighbours of his digging him out with a tracker, creating a path so he could pull his vehicle out of his driveway.

“The whole organization, to be able to switch the game plan that fast and get us here,” Allen said at a post-game news conference. “The neighbours, the good people of Buffalo, helped us get here.”