TV Schedule: Thursday, Oct. 3, 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Stadium: FirstEnergy Stadium
Weather: Low 67, High 79
Line: Cleveland (-3)
Heading into week five, the Cleveland Browns are considered the surprise of the NFL. Losing Trent Richardson prior to week three’s game looked like it would lead to a steady downfall, but Brian Hoyer has come in and saved the day for the Browns. In two starts, Hoyer has passed for 590 yards and five touchdowns while leading the Browns out of the cellar and into a 2-2 record. Willis McGahee looks to be the starting running back right now, but 23 carries for 55 yards in two games is not going to cut it. The offense is not based around the run — as evidenced by its 76 yards per game on the ground which is good for 27th in the league.
EJ Manuel is one of the best rookies in the league right now and I don’t even think he has scratched the surface. He has a world full of potential and could lead the Buffalo Bills to a six-win season or more. He is 74-130 for 856 yards and five touchdowns through four games this season, leading the Bills to a 2-2 record. Although they are sitting in last place in the AFC East, the Bills have the potential to be a solid team and make a serious push at the playoffs in 2013. If C.J. Spiller can get and stay healthy, this run game with Fred Jackson and Spiller can be a scary two-headed attack that helps take the pressure off of Manuel like it already has.
Defensively, the two teams are pretty much exact opposites. The Bills have struggled this season at slowing down drives. In fact, they rank 27th in the league in points allowed per game with 399.2 and the run defense is struggling more than the team’s secondary. That could spell a breakout game for McGahee. The Browns have one of the top-10 defenses in the league in nearly every major category. They have the fourth best run defense and the ninth best pass defense. It could be a long day for Manuel.
PREDICTION: Bills 21, Browns 28