- Jeff Gold, ESPN Insider
So now we've found another thing the Cleveland Browns stink at: tanking.
Two weeks ago, the Browns traded one of their best players, running back Trent Richardson, in what seemed like an obvious admission that this season was a lost cause and the best thing to do was to start accumulating assets for the future, specifically the loaded 2014 draft.
But a funny thing happened on the way to a potential top pick -- the Browns started winning, upsetting the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals the past two weeks. Because the AFC North is so weak, the Browns actually find themselves tied for first place entering Thursday night's game.
The most important thing for the Browns is to determine if they actually have a quarterback for the future in Brian Hoyer. Browns general manager Michael Lombardi has said for years that he thinks Hoyer can be a starter in the league. Considering that it will probably take the No. 1 overall pick to land Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater -- and let's be honest, the Jacksonville Jaguars aren't winning more than two games this year -- the Browns probably will not be in the mix for college football's best quarterback prospect. Hoyer could legitimately stake a claim to this job.
As for the Buffalo Bills, they already have their quarterback of the present -- and hopefully the future -- in EJ Manuel. One thing that would help Manuel on Thursday night is if he could hand the ball off to C.J. Spiller a fair amount, but that's a question because of an ankle injury to Spiller.
The Browns are listed as a 4.5-point favorite. According to ESPN Insider's PickCenter, the Bills are the consensus ATS choice at 57 percent.
Let's turn to some analysis on the line and total from Jay Kornegay of The Las Vegas Hotel and an ATS pick on the game from our panel of handicapping experts.
Matchup: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns
Spread: Opened Browns minus-3.5; still Browns minus-3.5
Total: Opened 41; now 40.5