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NFL Buffalo BillsCleveland Browns

Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns Preview: 2 Teams On The Rise

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA Today Sports

After four weeks, the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns are both 2-2. These are two teams that have perennially spent their seasons in the competitive basement of the NFL, and both are dangerously close to becoming relevant when it comes to the playoff picture. For the Bills, their early success has been spurred by the poised, confident, albeit conservative play of rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, as well as several sensational performances from their new-look defense.

The Browns, on the other hand, have a much more hazy situation at quarterback, but a solid defense and plenty of offensive pieces to build around. The emergence of Jordan Cameron as a top tight end has been huge for the franchise, as has the addition of Josh Gordon at receiver. Although it’s a tough sell to suggest that either Brandon Weeden or Brian Hoyer is a long-term solution at quarterback, the first-round pick that Cleveland procured in the controversial Trent Richardson trade might help solve that problem in 2014.

It’s clear that both of these long-suffering franchises are headed in the right direction, and they will clash on Thursday night in what could turn out to be a pivotal game for both teams. A win would mean the first winning record this season for either team and additional momentum for Buffalo or Cleveland heading into Week 6 contests against the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions, respectively.

Those games will also be played after 10 days of rest, giving whichever team comes out of Thursday’s game with a win a significant edge over their opponent. The Lions and Bengals both seem relatively beatable through several weeks of the NFL season, making Thursday night’s game all the more important.

The Bills appear to have a more complete team in place at the moment, but have also been inconsistent so far in 2013. The Browns will need some luck to pull this one out at home, but a little luck is never out of the question in the NFL. Either way, this should be a fun game to watch between two up-and-coming teams.

Matt Ploss is a Buffalo Bills writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewPloss, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.