Buffalo Bills-Cleveland Browns SnowBelt Battle Drawing Major “Under” Action

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Buffalo Bills-Cleveland Browns SnowBelt Battle Drawing Major “Under” Action

The best game in the NFL last weekend involved the Buffalo Bills losing for only the third time this season, in overtime against the Minnesota Vikings. That’s when Josh Allen was intercepted on the final play of the game.

Because of NFL broadcasting rules, fans in Wisconsin and Texas did not get to see the ending, because language in the NFL’s television contract states that games in local markets must be shown in their entirety. Why this rule has never been altered is beyond comprehension. But rules that defy common sense have become commonplace throughout the United States over the past few years, wouldn’t ya say? This was just one example.

This Sunday, a bunch of fans from Cleveland are going to brave a trip on Interstate 90 through the infamous Western New York snow belt to travel to Orchard Park to watch the Browns visit the Bills. They are putting a ton of trust into the folks who spread salt on the highways. Hot chocolate futures markets are expected to surge Friday.

Blizzard conditions are forecast for the next three days, and the game-time temperature in Western New York is 28 degrees, with a strong wind. This could have an impact on how the game will be played, the over/under line could drop from 41 1/2 — especially if other sportsbooks are seeing the same thing that DraftKings is seeing, with 81% of the over/under handle coming in on the “under.”

Of course, if this thing goes overtime and ends like last week’s thing …

That interception was one of the NFL-leading 10 thrown by Josh Allen, the Buffalo quarterback who was the favorite to win Most Valuable Player. That’s until he was overtaken by Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs following last weekend’s games. Mahomes is now +125, while Allen, Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts are all +500. The shortest odds on a non-quarterback are +7500 for Tyreek Hill of the Miami Dolphins, who leads the league in receiving yards and receptions, but has a bye this week.

Allen is now third among quarterbacks behind Mahomes and Tom Brady in total passing yardage.  Throwing the ball in cold and windy conditions ain’t the same as airing it out on a warm, sunny September afternoon. And yes, this goes with the territory in Buffalo, where annual snowfall is measured in feet rather than inches by the locals.

If interception No. 11 or pick No. 12 happens, it is going to lessen the chances of the Bills covering the 8-point spread against the Browns, who lost to Miami last weekend. That moved the Dolphins into first place in the AFC East, eliciting MVP chants for Tagovailoa as he passed for 285 yards and three TDs. We could have a three-way tie in the AFC East by 4:30 p.m. Sunday if the Bills and New York Jets both win (the Jets play the 5-4 Patriots in Foxboro). Yet the Bills remain the favorites to emerge as Super Bowl champions (+400).

This has created an interesting AFC East futures market, with the Bills favored at -180, the Dolphins second at +240, the Jets at +1100 despite the sharp action in that market that we have already reported about, and the Patriots at +1600 despite being a 3 1/2 points favorite over the Jets. If New England and Buffalo win, The Bills and Dolphins will have identical 7-3 records, and the Jets and Pats will both be 6-4. So, yes, the AFC East will remain interesting for awhile. (More on that tomorrow).

The weather will simply make it extra interesting.

What Effect Has Snowfall Had In The Past?

In 2017, a snowstorm dropped more than 16 inches in Orchard Park, New York, including between eight to nine inches during the game. It was a mess. Early in the third quarter, fans were even treated to a rare metrological event called “thundersnow,” as lightning flashed over the stadium. The game was not stopped, and the Bills won when running back LeSean McCoy scampered in on a 21-yard run with 1:33 left in overtime.

In 2016, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell carved through the Bills defense for a franchise-record 236 yards and three touchdowns rushing in a 27-20 win. The start of the second half of this game was delayed when a buildup of rubber pellets — which were part of the artificial turf in the Bills’ stadium — accumulated on the sidelines after tractors swept the field of snow during halftime.

In 2013, McCoy rushed for an Eagles single-game record 217 yards (breaking Steve Van Buren’s mark of 205 from 1949), leading Philadelphia to a 34-20 victory over the Detroit Lions at Lincoln Financial Field. That is a surprisingly high score, given the conditions, with stadium staff working hard to keep yard lines clear during a storm that dropped up to six inches of snow on Philadelphia. Neither team attempted a field goal, and there were two-point conversion tries after seven of the eight touchdowns.

So … will there be a 2-point conversion in Browns-Bills?

That could depend upon whether the snow has stopped falling by then, but the odds of a 2-point conversion by either team are off the board for this game only at DraftKings, which clearly has done its homework. (Jets-Patriots and Panthers-Ravens both have a +400 line on a successful 2-point conversion).

What is Trending, Wager-Wise, For the Bills and the Browns?

For starters, the Bills are 4-4-1 against the spread and the Browns are 4-5-0. The Bills failed to cover each of the last two weeks, while Cleveland covered twice in a row before falling short by 18 1/2 last week against Miami. That’s when the Dolphins scored 24 consecutive points and took a 30-7 lead into the fourth quarter, causing pretty much every last Browns fan to switch over the to the Vikings-Bills game.

Cleveland has a 6-2-1 over/under record, best in the NFL, and that has to have some of the under bettors a little jittery.

Snow games do not necessarily have to be low-scoring, and one thing they know how to do in Western New York aside from prepare wings, is clear snow. But the wind is another factor, and that could lead to more fourth-down gambles than field goal attempts from Cleveland’s Cade York (15-for-19 on FGs) and Buffalo’s Tyler Bass (15-for-18 on field goals and 29-for-29 on extra points).

BetMGM is offering a +10000 line that there will be zero touchdowns scored, and a +2800 line on the Bills to win with both teams scoring at least 30 points.

Wynn Bet is offering an over/under of 0.5 Cleveland touchdowns with the under listed at +500, while Buffalo’s TDs over/under is 1 1/2, with the under priced at +525. So if you are so darn certain this things is going waaaaaay under because of the weather, that could be an enticing one for you.

Cleveland’s Nick Chubb has run for more than 100 yards only once in his last four games. But he could break his season-high of 23 carries if the wind forces the Browns to run the ball against Buffalo’s No. 7-ranked rushing defense, which allows 109.6 yards per game. Chubbs’s rushing yardage over/under is not yet on the board because of the weather forecast. We may not see that line until Saturday night. Chubb rushed for 116 yards at home against Buffalo the last time the teams met in 2019.

If the snowstorm is unrelenting and the wind is howling, a 0-0 tie is a possibility, no?

Well, actually, no … for all intents and purposes. Per Pro Football Reference, 73 games in pro football history have ended in a 0-0 tie. However, the last time that took place was almost 80 years ago, when the Giants and Lions played in the rain Nov. 7, 1943 during World War II, when all the good players were in the armed forces.

There was another one three years later, though not in the NFL.

The best bet in Buffalo for this weekend is a surge in Tylenol sales after everyone breaks out their snow shovels. And if we are lucky, we get an encore to the excitement level we saw from the Bills last week.

Or if the bizarre happens, a snowplow plays a part. It would not be the first time.

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