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NFL Week 5 Preview: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns

BRIAN HOYER

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns each pulled out home upsets against teams that were considered the class of the AFC North last week, and now these two upstarts do battle on Thursday night in Week 5.

Week 5 Matchup: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns

TV Info and Game Time: NFL Network at 8:25 p.m. ET Thursday

Spread: Browns favored by 2.5

Preview:

Many counted Cleveland dead in the water after the front office dealt Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon and Greg Little reportedly landed on the trading block, and Brandon Weeden‘s injury yielded the starting quarterback job to journeyman backup Brian Hoyer.

Well, the defense has chugged along in its stingy form as Hoyer has actually breathed a little more life into this offense, admittedly benefiting from the return of the suspended Gordon. A victory in Minnesota and dominance over previous division-leader Cincinnati have shown this squad won’t just roll over no matter how much Michael Lombardi and Co. ostensibly look ahead to next season. This is a credit to first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski.

EJ Manuel’s heroics against Carolina and near-heroics against New England have been followed up a clunker and an uneven showing. This displaces Manuel as an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner but is understandable given the growing pains that were expected by many experts coming out of the draft.

The talent and the calm are apparent, now his ability to maintain confidence and adjust quickly to his flaws and opposing defenses will be on full display. Now if fourth-year back CJ Spiller can do the same, the Bills’ offense will be plenty dangerous enough to win in Cleveland against what is becoming an elite defensive unit.

Key Matchup: OLB Mario Williams vs. RT Mitchell Schwartz

Williams wreaked havoc off the right side Week 2 to the tune of four sacks on Cam Newton. He’s been relatively quiet outside of feasting off Carolina’s major weakness back in Week 2, but has a chance to bully another man who’s struggled this year in Schwartz. It’s still only fair to note that Schwartz had a fantastic full rookie season as starter in 2012 and could use this matchup to snap himself out of the slow start to 2013; ranking near the bottom at his position in pass-blocking efficiency in the early going according to Pro Football Focus.

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