ORCHARD PARK, NY — The Buffalo Bills’ home game against the Cleveland Browns is being relocated to Detroit due to a winter storm expected to hit western New York over the next couple of days.
The area is expected to get multiple feet of snow over the course of Thursday night through Saturday night, with thunder and other inclement conditions also expected. The team said the decision to move the game from Highmark Stadium was done “in consultation with the Buffalo Bills and local and state authorities as the region prepares for the storm.”
Wind tastes are also expected to make traveling more difficult.
It is not expected to be snowing during the actual time the game is scheduled to take place.
League spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed that the move had nothing to do with the Bills’ stadium being an outdoor facility without a dome and said the priority is that resources not be diverted from the community.
“They’ve been through it before, we’ve been through it before and handled it well,” Buffalo coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday regarding the unknowns surrounding this week. “So full confidence in our team that’s working behind the scenes on that and then the football team has to get ready to play a game and execute, so it’s a good football team coming in here.”
The decision was made in part to have resources available for other needs in the community and for the safety of people in the area and fans. The team had a major snow game in Orchard Park in 2017, and the Bills beat the Colts in overtime 13-7.
Buffalo had a home game vs. the New York Jets moved to Ford Field in November 2014 due to a snowstorm. The Bills won that game 38-3. That game was pushed back to Monday after being scheduled for a Sunday, but the Bills’ Thanksgiving game in Detroit makes the schedule this year less flexible.
With the news that the Browns-Bills game has been moved from Buffalo to Detroit, all previous bets made on the game are voided, per Caesars Sportsbook’s house rules.
The total, which moved from 47.5 to 42 (it had risen to 43 when the bets were voided) before the site change, attracted significant betting interest all week. The Browns-Bills under got more bets than any team to cover the spread besides Thursday night’s game between the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers. It’s rare that totals attract more bets than the point spread.
With the game now in Detroit, Caesars Sportsbook is listing Buffalo as a 7.5-point favorite and the game has a total of 48.
The Bills practiced inside the team’s fieldhouse Wednesday but were outside for Thursday’s practice. At the same time, Buffalo is dealing with several illnesses on the team. Three players — defensive back Cam Lewis, wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips — missed Thursday’s practice with illnesses.
With the loss of this week’s home game, the Bills will not play in Orchard Park again until Dec. 11 vs. the Jets.