Week 5 Primer: Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns
Bills vs. Browns: Week 5 Primer
The Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns will face off on Thursday night on national television in a game that suddenly means a lot to both teams. The Bills fell into a quick 1-2 hole with both losses coming inside of the division. The Browns lost their first two and traded RB Trent Richardson, the no. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, and it seemed as if they were packing it in for the season.
The Browns surprised everyone by winning their two games after the trade without Richardson and with new QB Brian Hoyer, a journeyman who cut his teeth under Tom Brady. The Bills got to 2-2 themselves with a stunning 23-20 upset of the defending champion Baltimore Ravens, picking Joe Flacco off five times in the process. Whoever wins will be 3-2. For the Browns, that could mean first place in the AFC North. Depending on outcomes, the Bills could see themselves as high as second in the tough AFC East.
While both offenses have contained some surprise impact players, it will be the defense that wins this game for either team. The Bills have played a "bend but don't break" sort of defense so far this season. They given up a lot of yards, but haven't given up more than 27 points in a single game. They have been able to force turnovers as well.
On the flip side, the Browns beefed up their front seven and have a stout line to try and push the run game back and get at the quarterback. It will be a game won in the trenches between two teams who both play tough in there. Here is a look at how they match up.
Browns' Pass Offense vs. Bills' Pass Defense
Hoyer has given the Browns' offense a shot in the arm. They'd gotten big production from WR Josh Gordon as well as TE Jordan Cameron. On the Bills' side, they may be getting reinforcements. S Jairus Byrd practiced fully for the first time this season starting on Tuesday, and CB Leodis McKelvin is listed as questionable. If the Bills can get a lot of pressure on Hoyer, they should be able to force some mistakes.
Bills' Pass Offense vs. Browns' Pass Defense
The interesting dynamic at play here is that stand out CB Joe Haden can take one of the other teams receiver away. The question is do they put Haden on the veteran Stevie Johnson or the rookie Robert Woods. Regardless of the decision they may be exposed on the other side of Haden. Manuel has limited his mistakes and he'll need another mistake free game against a tough front 7 in Cleveland.
Browns' Rush Offense vs. Bills' Rush Defense
The Browns reset their run game after the Richardson trade. They signed an old friend of Buffalo's in Willis McGahee, and he will split time will Bobby Rainey. The rush defense for the Bills looked vulnerable and then gave up only 24 yards last week to the Ravens. Was it a fluke or is this defense settling in? We may find out on Thursday.
Bills' Rush Offense vs. Browns' Rush Defense
The Bills had 55 rushes for 203 yards in their win over the Ravens on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if they employ a similar strategy against the Browns. Sure, the Browns have a stout front line, but then again so do the Ravens. Manuel looked great on play-action last week, so look for the Bills to try and set that up with some ground and pound.
Final Score Prediction: Bills 20, Browns 17
I think this is another close game with a lot of defense. The Bills haven't given up more than 27 points in a game so far this year, and they've faced offenses far better than the Browns'. Hoyer has done well so far, but better QBs have given the ball up against the Bills. With McKelvin and Byrd possibly on the field, I see the defense of the Bills making one more play than the Browns and winning by a field goal.