NFL oddsBetting Overview:

The Cleveland Browns looked like a much-improved football team almost from the beginning of the season. Quarterback Jake Delhomme looks more comfortable in the Cleveland offense than he did in Carolina, and running back Peyton Hillis is the break-out surprise of the 2010 season. The Browns have a shut-down kind of defense that has been effective at creating turnovers. With wins over the New England Patriots and defending champion New Orleans Saints under their belts, the Browns are also developing a strong sense of confidence.

The Buffalo Bills were showing major signs of improvement. Buffalo had taken some pretty good teams to overtime, and then beat the Cincinnati Bengals after the Bengals had taken a huge halftime lead. Then the Bills seemed to fall back to their old ways in week 13 against the Vikings. Turnovers, bad plays and really bad penalties cost the Bills dearly. That gun the Bills had used to shoot themselves in the foot had re-surfaced after being put away for so many weeks. If the Bills can learn to stop shooting themselves in the foot, they can put together some wins to finish the season.

Offense:

The Buffalo Bills were not part of anyone’s NFL predictions for the playoffs this season and rightfully so. The NFL scores that Bills had put up earlier in the season showed a team in complete disarray. But the NFL betting world has seen a different Buffalo Bills team in the past few weeks. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is a cool presence in that Buffalo offensive huddle, and wide receiver Stevie Johnson is a rising star regardless of what the Almighty thinks. The problem for the Bills is still a weak offensive line and bad penalties. If they can improve on those two aspects of their offense, then they may start moving into the realm of playoff contender.

The Cleveland Browns got a shot of confidence this summer when Mike Holgren became president of the team. But that confidence was shaken a little when Holgren brought in quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy barely made the team this season, and Browns fans were more than concerned. But Delhomme has proved to be consistent as the Browns quarterback, and McCoy showed signs of promise while he filled in for the injured Delhomme in the middle of the season. Add in running back sensation Peyton Hillis, and the Browns are on their way to the improvements they were so desperately looking for.

Defense:

The Bills defense is more inconsistent than bad. There have been games where the Bills defense has only allowed 17 points or less, and then there are games where the Buffalo team has allowed 35 points or more. This is not the same ball-hawking team we saw last season that put up a lot of interceptions. The Bills defense seems unsure of itself and unable to keep the team in tight games against good teams.

The Browns defense is a lot like the Bills defense was last season. The Cleveland defense looks for turnover opportunities, and they are able to put some pressure on the quarterback. But the Cleveland defense still needs help up front, and that may be where the Bills can exploit the Browns for some offensive yards.

The Bottom Line:

The Browns are headed in a good direction through planning and on purpose, the Bills seem to be headed in the right direction by accident. If the Bills really knew what they had in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, then they would have started him at the beginning of the season instead of Trent Edwards. Planning breeds winning, and the Browns are learning how to plan from one of the best ever.

BSN Sports Pick: Cleveland Browns

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