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Browns' Week 5 Scouting Report: Buffalo Bills

With the Cleveland Browns facing the Buffalo Bills this week, we scout five key points on the Bills, including their commitment to the running game, the tempo of their offense, the strength of the defense, and more.

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Here are five key storylines the Cleveland Browns will be aware of as they take on their Week 5 opponent, the Buffalo Bills.

Bullet_medium#1 - Committed to the Running Game: The Bills average 4.14 yards per carry in the running game, which is close to the league average. What stands out is the fact that they have a commitment to the running game, which is why they average 152 yards rushing per game, which ranks second in the NFL. To compare, the Browns average exactly half of that at 76 rushing yards per game.

Despite their success on the ground, Buffalo fans have to be a little disappointed with the productivity of C.J. Spiller this season. He was expected to finally be the feature back in Buffalo, but he hasn't broken out and has been slowed by injuries the past couple of weeks. On the season, he is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. He might not even play tonight because he hurt his ankle against the Ravens last week and did not practice the past three days.

Fred Jackson has been the more productive back this year, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He is probably with a knee sprain, but is expected to see some action this week. Third-string running back Tashard Choice could get some work this week. Based on how well Cleveland's run defense has been this season, it'll be interesting to see just how committed the Bills are to their running game this week.

Bullet_medium#2 - Preventing Substitutions With No Huddle Attack: Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly gets the publicity for having a fast offense, but the Buffalo Bills take the same approach under head coach Doug Marrone. Deploying a no-huddle, Shotgun-style offense, the Bills are the second most up-tempo team in the league through four weeks (funny enough, the Browns are the third most up-tempo team).

By having that threat of staying on the field, the Bills will hope to prevent the substitutions that defensive coordinator Ray Horton likes to make. Being the veteran coach that he is, though, I'm sure Horton will have his players prepared to get on/off the field in a hurry. Despite their up-tempo approach, the Bills haven't been perfect at it. Rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel doesn't average very many yards per pass attempt, and the Bills are 27th in the league on third downs; heck, even the Browns have a better success rate than them in that department.

Getting pressure on Manuel will be a key. If the rookie quarterback gets the same amount of time to throw that Andy Dalton had this past Sunday, he has the arm to fire nice passes off to his receivers. He doesn't respond well when facing pressure, though, and the Bills aren't as good in pass protection as the Bengals are.

Bullet_medium#3 - Pass-Rushing Threats: The Browns will likely be without Shawn Lauvao again this week, but the right side of the offensive line had their best game of the season against the Bengals last week and appear to be slowly improving. Last year, defensive end Mario Williams had 1.5 sacks against Mitchell Schwartz. Fortunately (perhaps) for the Browns, Williams is the right defensive end for the Bills in 2013, meaning he'll be primarily matched up against Joe Thomas this time around. He is still a tough threat, though, having notched 5.5 sacks through four games, and could be moved around the line throughout the game.

If those two can cancel each other out, Schwartz will be in decent shape. The Bills' starting left defensive end, Alex Carrington, tore his quadriceps two weeks ago and is done for the year. Taking his place is the rotation of veteran Alan Branch and Corbin Bryant, an undrafted free agent from 2011 who is seeing his first regular season action. The player the Browns will have to be concerned with is defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who will be lined up against Oniel Cousins. Dareus has three sacks this season.

Bullet_medium#4 - Injuries in the Secondary: For the second week in a row, the Browns could be facing a secondary that is missing some of their key players. The Bills' starting secondary is supposed to consist of cornerbacks Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore, and safety Jarius Byrd. Gilmore has yet to play in a game this season due to a wrist injury, and he is ruled out for this Sunday's game.

Byrd, who is the best player in the Bills' secondary in my opinion, hasn't played in a game this season due to a foot injury. He was a full participant in practice the past two days, though, so there's a chance he could make his debut against the Browns. That would no doubt be a big boost for Buffalo. McKelvin, the Bills' best cornerback, has missed the past couple of weeks with a hamstring injury, and is listed as questionable for this week's game. If I had to roll the dice and guess, I would say that Byrd will play and McKelvin will sit another week.

Despite having a lot of holes, the Bills' pass defense came up with five interceptions on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco last week. Part of the reason is because rookie second-round pick Kiko Alonso, the team's middle linebacker, is off to an awesome start of the year (rookie of the year potential). He has 32 tackles, 4 interceptions, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery.

Bullet_medium#5 - Special Teams Overview: The Bills drafted a kicker, Dustin Hopkins, and he beat out long-time veteran Rian Lindell to win the job. Hopkins suffered a groin injury, though, so Dan Carpenter has been Buffalo's kicker instead, and he's connected on 10-of-11 attempts, although 6 of those attempts came from less than 30 yards out. He's been a fair long-range kicker in the past, and has the leg to drill a 60-yarder. About half of Carpenter's kickoffs usually go for touchbacks.

The Bills feature Shawn Powell at punter; his net average is typically in the bottom half of the league. The Bills have only had two kickoff return attempts this year, so it's hard to gauge their effectiveness in that department. Due to McKelvin's hamstring injury, he hasn't been able to return punts for the team either.