As the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills look to lock horns today in their Week 11 matchup, both teams are disappointed in where their seasons currently are. Obviously, the Browns 3-6 record doesn’t come close to comparing to the Bills at 6-3 but two straight losses have Buffalo licking their wounds.
Cleveland might be big underdogs, for good reasons, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a chance today. Who knows what a snow game might have done for today’s outcome but, instead, the two teams face off in a dome.
Instead, both teams head to Detroit with the Bills landing Saturday afternoon.
So is there hope for the Browns? It may be a “fool's hope” but there is hope indeed.
Here are five reasons for that hope:
Bills Crazy Week
For Buffalo, this week was anything but normal. An illness hit early in the week while forecasts for significant snow started pouring in. By the end of it, the team had canceled practice, ruled out a few important defenders, had to pack up for two games on the road and fly out of town for a “home” game in advance of their Thanksgiving matchup.
That is a lot of chaos for players who are often very regimented throughout the season. That is a leg up for Cleveland today.
Likely Return of the Chief
TE David Njoku is questionable for today’s game but returned to practice this week. While most note Njoku’s explosion as a pass catcher this year, it is his blocking that is underappreciated. If he is able to return, he gives the Browns offense a versatile piece that can help in the run game and be a weapon in the passing attack. In his place, Cleveland has often had to run out an extra offensive lineman to get the kind of blocking they wanted.
Chief could be a little limited but, if he can play, will have a huge impact on the game even if it isn’t in the boxscore.
Bills Defense’s Injuries
Buffalo won’t have Greg Rousseau or Tremaine Edmunds today but also did not activate CB Tre’Davious White for today’s game. While QB Josh Allen gets the credit for the offense’s success, the impressive depth of talent on defense really carries that side (along with the addition of Von Miller).
While injuries happen, that the Bills lost two of their front seven gives the Browns a chance to attack a weakened unit.
JOK Not Joking Around
Mostly trying to be funny with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s nickname but, like Njoku, JOK’s return today will be very important for Cleveland’s defense. With his speed and quickness, Owusu-Koramoah can make it more difficult for Allen on scrambles while, hopefully, clogging up passing lanes.
The Offense Can Keep Up
While the defense (and special teams) have been a big problem and will likely continue to struggle against Allen, the offense has a chance to keep up this week. With Nick Chubb and the offensive line leading the way, the fast track at Ford Field will give Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Njoku a chance to put up points against a weakened defense.
Cleveland’s offense hasn’t been perfect but has played well so far this season. Having the whole group playing today inside a dome could lead to one of their best performances.
Any other reasons for hope, even it is a “fool’s hope” for the Browns today?