This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Buffalo Bills in Week 11. Below, we analyze a few advantages, disadvantages, or general thoughts about the two teams before getting to our predictions for the game.
To ‘Snow’ Avail
- The stakes for this week’s Browns-Bills game are still big. At 3-6, there is little margin for error for Cleveland to make the playoffs. This is the first week of the season in which I’ve lacked faith, lacked optimism, and am assuming the team will get their butts handed to them.
- If I was being optimistic, I would point out that while Cleveland took a 3-hour bus ride to Detroit on Friday, sitting in their hotels, relaxing, and going over game preparation, Bills players, coaches, and assistants were just trying to figure out how the hell they were going to get out of Buffalo as of Saturday afternoon. Buffalo players were shoveling themselves out of several feet of snow in their driveway, which is a strenuous task that can definitely make you sore when you have a game on Sunday. On top of all that, it’s going to be far easier for Cleveland fans to make a 2.5-hour drive to Detroit and buy discounted tickets than it will be for Buffalo fans, so I’m expecting it to almost be a home game of sorts for the Browns.
- My pessimism comes down to what we’ve seen from the defense to end the game against Atlanta, the entirety of the Chargers and Patriots games, and then last week against the Dolphins. With the exception of Atlanta, those are teams that typically don’t excel against the run. Buffalo is as good as it gets as a complete offense. That doesn’t mean they won’t pass the ball: the Dolphins ran it plenty last week, and Tua still made a big impact through the air.
- If there is one thing that has plagued the Bills, it has been the amount of turnovers they’ve had in the second half of games. Josh Allen continues throwing the ball when they probably should be running it. If Buffalo gets into that dumb mentality like the Bengals did two weeks ago against the Browns, then maybe they’ll open the door for our defense to do what they do best. I’m just not counting on that.
Keeping Tabs on the Injury Front
- The offensive line was a mess last week for Cleveland, as Wyatt Teller exited early from not feeling ready enough, Jack Conklin had his foot bothering him, and Jedrick Wills rolled his ankle (although that isn’t the reason why Bradley Chubb was abusing him early on). Now, we’re being sold the story that all three will not only play, but are feeling better. I hope so, but I have my doubts.
- What is with the Browns that they can never seem to go multiple games with all of their cornerback depth being in tact? After one game of having that depth back last week, Greg Newsome suffered a concussion during Friday’s practice and is out. For the Browns, that means Martin Emerson will start like he has for much of the season, and either A.J. Green or Greedy Williams will be the third cornerback.
- Now, for some good: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is back, and so is TE David Njoku. As happy as I am to have Njoku back in the passing game, I’m ever more excited to have his blocking back.
- The Bills will be without MLB Tremaine Edmunds and DE Greg Rousseau, two of their top tacklers at their respective units. Buffalo should be getting S Jordan Poyer back, though, and he’s always around the ball for that defense. Cleveland should have some more running lanes than they did a week ago against Miami, but the bigger challenge still remains holding off the top-ranked Bills offense.
- The Ravens host the Panthers this week, with Baker Mayfield set to get the start. Can Cleveland’s former QB pull off a bit of an upset? I’m not expecting it, but that’s the only chance Cleveland has at pulling within two games of the division lead after this week.
- Since the game will be indoors, K Cade York should receive some opportunities to attempt some long kicks if the offense gets in the 55+ yard range.
- Why aren’t the Browns moving Myles Garrett around more?
.@PFF_Sam just told us that Myles Garrett leads NFL in pass-rush win rate. Said he is really suffering from how bad the rest of the line is. Also said that unlike the premier pass rushers in the league (Bosa, TJ Watt, Parsons), the Browns have not moved him around nearly as much— Anthony Lima (@SportsBoyTony) November 15, 2022
- According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 8 point underdogs against the Bills.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “I think Buffalo will be smart with their gameplan and just attack and impose their will up front. The fact is that we’ve lost five of six games and have a lot of faults, while the Bills are a top-tier team that’ll be looking to avenge two disappointing losses in a row.” Bills 31, Browns 17
Thomas Moore: “The Browns are determined to torpedo their season before Thanksgiving if last week’s performance against the Dolphins is any indication. The Bills are good at running the ball as they are averaging 129 rushing yards so expect them to roll up another 220-plus day against a Browns defense that has no desire to slow down opposing offenses. The Browns might be able to keep it close for a while, but will once again come up short.” Bills 17, Browns 10
Barry Shuck: Note: Barry picked the Bills to win, and still does, but I’ve omitted his write-up since he sent it in when the game was still thought to be played in snow. Bills defeat Browns
Jared Mueller: “This week has been another interesting one for the Cleveland Browns but a game against the Buffalo Bills is where it will end. Instead of a home game for the Bills, they will have to travel to Detroit and, likely, stay there until after their Thanksgiving Day game. With illness and travel added to the Buffalo difficulties the last two weeks, the game will be closer than many expect. Sadly, that means Cleveland only losing by 10 or less points and not the 14+ some are expecting.” Bills 27, Browns 20
Ezweav: “I can understand people looking at that performance last week and concluding that the team is facing certain doom moving forward. I don’t agree. I think there were a variety of factors at play (not the least of which being Tua playing absolutely out of his mind) that resulted in a lopsided final score, but that’s not indicative of where the team actually is.
Fortunately there’s a great test to that theory coming up immediately in the form of the now domed contest against a very, very good Buffalo Bills team.
Can we beat these guys? Sure. But probably not as currently constituted. If Allen were hurt (as looked possible a few weeks’ back) that would be one thing. Or if the game were being played in conditions that made passing the ball more difficult, that would be another.
Thus, I expect the offensive and defensive output to both look significantly better than they did in South Florida. But they got Josh Allen and we got Jacoby Brissett.” Bills 23, Browns 18
Matt Wood: “Man I would love to call an upset here for the Browns. But last week seeing the team (can we call it quit?) have a less than stellar effort, it gives me pause. BUT if you have watched the Bills at all this year Josh Allen has made some INSANE plays, but has also had some absurdly bad turnovers. How do they bounce back from choking away a game against the Vikings?
I think the Browns show up in Detroit with a purpose. Maybe getting Watson back at practice shows the boys that there is some hope if they stack some wins? Maybe the Bills play down in this one like they did against the Jets? Browns get the win.” Browns 30, Bills 22
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.