- Thinking about last year’s group of quarterbacks, I’d love to pump Baker Mayfield up compared to the rest of the class, including Josh Allen. But how can you? Allen wasn’t expected to be a prolific passer. He throws for about 200 yards per game, but as of later has drastically improved his turnover rate. In his past 4 games, Allen has thrown for 7 touchdowns to just 1 interception. He has rushed for 247 yards and 4 touchdowns, and running is a big part of his game. Whether it’s effective or not, he is going to log about 8 rushing attempts per game.
- The Browns saw Mayfield produce his first turnover-free game last week. Even though it didn’t lead to a victory and I despise the fact that we have to take babysteps with this offense’s slow improvements, we did see Mayfield start letting it loose late in the game last week to both Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham. Both teams have very different records, but both teams would also like to see their quarterback play a lot better.
- The Bills’ starting running back had been the ageless Frank Gore, who has 106 carries for 437 yards (4.1 YPC) and 2 TD. Last week against the Redskins, though, Gore had 11 carries for 15 yards, and backup Devin Singletary received 20 carries for 95 yards (4.8 YPC) and 1 TD. We might see a changing of the guard at running back, but overall, the Bills’ rushing attack is just average.
- This is a huge week for the Browns at running back, as Kareem Hunt makes his return to action. It is a very unique situation because one could argue that Cleveland has the best two running backs in the NFL. No longer do we have to worry about whether Nick Chubb or Hunt is in the game, because both backs are as good as you can get. How Cleveland utilizes Hunt in his first game back will be the top storyline of this game.
Wide Receiver / Tight End
- The Bills’ top two receivers are John Brown and Cole Beasley. Brown has 42 catches for 603 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Beasley has 35 catches for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns. Dawson Knox is the Bills’ top receiving tight end, with just 14 catches for 192 yards and 1 touchdown.
- Will the Browns start force feeding the ball to Odell Beckham more, especially in the red zone? Does it drive you nuts when Todd Monken talks about how good Mayfield and Rashard Higgins are together, and that they have to find a way to get him involved? Ricky Seals-Jones didn’t practice all week, so he is unlikely to play, meaning Demetrius Harris will get a heavy dose of reps unless Stephen Carlson receives a bump as the receiving tight end.
- The Bills’ starting offensive line features LT Dion Dawkins, LG Quinton Spain, C Mitch Morse, RG Jon Feliciano, and RT Cody Ford. Much like the Broncos last week, the Bills’ offensive line is mediocre at best, with Ford, the 38th overall pick of this year’s draft, representing the weak link at right tackle:
While Dion Dawkins leads the team with his 72.5 overall grade and 76.5 pass-blocking grade, his teammates in the trenches have all underwhelmed. Rookie Oklahoma product Cody Ford has been the team’s weakest link at right tackle thus far, as he’s earned just a 52.8 overall grade and a 48.7 pass-blocking grade through eight weeks. His best position may be guard in the NFL.
- The Browns appear poised to stick with Wyatt Teller at right guard this week. He grades poorly as a run blocker but is better in pass protection; is that a reason why Nick Chubb had a season-low in yards per carry last week? Cleveland’s offensive line will be a work in progress the rest of the season; there’s no other way around it. For the line to succeed, they can’t have more letdown performances from Joel Bitonio, who is supposed to be the strength of the line.
Defensive Line / Linebacker
- The Bills run a 4-3 defense, with LDE Trent Murphy, DT Jordan Phillips, DT Star Lotuleilei, and RDE Jerry Hughes. Phillips leads the team with 6 sacks, followed by Hughes with 2 sacks. Despite not having his normal sack numbers, PFF says that Hughes leads the Bills with 25 pressures:
- Cleveland’s defense front takes a huge hit this week as Olivier Vernon is out due to injury, which forces Chad Thomas up to the starting lineup. It is somewhat of an “oh shit” moment with regards to the Browns’ depth at defensive end, and makes you again groan about the utilization and departure of Genard Avery.
- The Bills’ starting linebackers include SLB Matt Milano, MLB Tremaine Edmunds, and WLB Lorenzo Alexander. After a sluggish start as a rookie in 2018, Edmunds has come into his own in 2019, especially in coverage.
- There was some discussion on Cleveland Browns Daily this week that the defense could switch to a more traditional 4-3 defense, with the departure of Jermaine Whitehead. The possibility of Sione Takitaki receiving some defensive reps also came up; but I won’t get my hopes up until I see it.
#Browns CBD is making it sound like Wilks is going to run more of a normal 4-3 defense and Sione Takitaki could get snaps at Sam. I like how he was groomed to take over and needs to be an upgrade over Taylor.— ChadP71 @BrownsAccess (@chadp71) November 6, 2019
- The Bills’ two starting cornerbacks are Tre’Davious White and Levi Wallace, with Taron Johnson being the nickelback. Buffalo’s starting safeties are FS Micah Hyde and SS Jordan Poyer. I liked Poyer when he was with the Browns, and he was not happy when the team only tried keeping him with a minimum contract. Poyer has been very good the past few years in Buffalo, and has been looking forward to this being a bit of a revenge game (even though no one is really left from when he was here). White has played very well for Buffalo too:
- Cleveland welcomes Damarious Randall back to the starting lineup this week, giving the team their full starting secondary for the first time since the beginning of the season. Randall needs to be a difference maker compared to what Jermaine Whitehead offered last week; and with his departure and Eric Murray being out still, we really might see Cleveland stick to a 4-3 look this week.
- Stephen Hauschka is the Bills’ kicker. He is 8-of-11 this year and 16-of-17 on extra points. He is a veteran kicker, kicking since 2008, so the team isn’t worried about his ability. Austin Seibert continues to kick well for Cleveland.
- Corey Bojorquez is the Bills’ punter. His average of 42.4 is the worst in the NFL, and his net average of 35.4 is also the worst. Cleveland could be in store for some good field position in conjunction with how their defense performs.
- Andre Roberts is the Bills’ kick and punt returner. He has 7 kickoff returns for 228 yards (32.6 yard average), and 14 punt returns for 76 yards (5.4 yards per return). The Browns randomly switched things up last week by making CB Tavierre Thomas the kickoff returner.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “It feels like the Browns were 2-2, and then I blinked, and now we are 2-6. I still have to keep my optimism ready for one more week; I said the Browns needed to win 5 of 6 games starting last week, and despite beginning with a loss to Denver, that is still possible, given the schedule. The biggest hurdle is Buffalo, but their offense will not beat teams. The Bills’ run defense has shown some cracks, so I see Cleveland really riding the two-back system in Kareem Hunt’s debut to victory.” Browns 20, Bills 17.
Matt Wood: “Not gonna lie, the loss against Denver shook me. This team is way too talented to lose to that Broncos team. And in a year where everything has gone wrong, it would be poetic justice of some sort to have the favorite anti-draft boy Josh Allen come in and win against the Browns.
BUT, the Browns rally this weekend. Given up for dead they decide to ac tally give the ball to OBJ and Chubb and they move the ball. Hunt has some nice plays on 3rd downs and the Browns rattle Allen into a bad throw.
It’s close but the Browns win and somehow stay alive.” Browns 24, Bills 16.
rufio: “We win this one. I don’t know how, but we do. Maybe we finally get some kind of passing game going. Maybe we break a few 50+ yard runs by Chubb. Maybe it’s a pick-6 from Greedy or Denzel. But I think the defense plays well in this one and we finally get another W.” Browns 20, Bills 17.
Tom Moore: “I just don’t know anymore with this Browns team. The defense is bad, the offense can’t seem to string together more than two good plays in a row, and if something can go wrong it will. But it is a new week which brings with it a new sense of false hope.” Browns 14, Bills 10.
BigTownBrown: “6-2 vs 2-6........ you smell that.....? TRAP GAME
The Browns come out electric pounding both Chubb and Hunt as a 1-2 combo. Baker doesn’t even throw the football for the first possession of the game. Mayfield only attempts 19 passes all game as the duo of Hunt and Chubb are just too much for Buffalo's defense.
Alan struggles to find anything open all game as Greddy and Ward lock down the corners. The new kid Dingleberry is only able to mustard up 37 yard running and fumbles twice on 21 rushing attempts. The only chance the Bills have at winning this game is the glimmer of hope at the tailgates.
BROWNS WIN BROWNS WIN BROWNS WIN” Browns 28, Bills 6.
Barry Shuck: “Both the Bills and Browns are very good running teams and both are equally bad at stopping the run. Nick Chubb should have a great game, but the passing game will not have a good day as the Buffalo defensive backfield is one of the league’s better units. If Cleveland can establish a solid run game, this game should be close despite Buffalo’s 6-2-0 record.” Bills 27, Browns 20.
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.