Browns @ Bills – Previewing Game #12
In the ever-competitive NFL, the Browns have another huge contest on Sunday. The defensive front of the opponent troubles me, especially with the recent poor outings by Brian Hoyer. The Browns can ill-afford to make the same type of mistakes as they did in Atlanta, doing so could lead to a defeat. Let’s go further into this matchup…
Offense: It goes without saying that Brian Hoyer must escape this funk that he currently is in. Committing four turnovers in the past two weeks is unacceptable in this league – the quarterback must get his mind right and his throws on target. Was he having tunnel vision when trying to find Josh Gordon? This could be argued, as the signal caller had multiple poorly thrown passes and a pair of interceptions when targeting the former Baylor star. He could not possibly have three straight bad games, can he? I expect a huge bounce back game for Brian Hoyer.
I believe the roles are becoming more and more defined for Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. The former will be getting a majority of the carries, while the latter will get his shots near the end zone. As long as both backs embrace their roles, this running attack should be hitting on all cylinders. Going against a tough front with Kyle and Mario Williams is not going to be easy, but if both rookies can find a seam they will hit it and gallop forward.
The Josh Gordon reinstatement paid dividends last week for not only the former Baylor wide out, but also for his teammates. Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins had solid performances. I expect that to be close to the norm for Hawkins, who now will not face the top cornerback for the opposing team. You hear about Gordon stretching the defense, and I believe last week was a warm up for this passing game. Hoyer should find pay dirt at least twice in this contest – and all can be right again for Browns’ fans (at least for one week).
The guys upfront will have a tremendous challenge to keep Hoyer upright while paving running lanes for Crowell and West. The unit took a step forward in Atlanta, albeit against a subpar group. Should fans expect the Browns’ line to be lights out? Certainly not; there will be a few negative plays – but I anticipate those five holding their own. If the tight end position can get back Jordan Cameron this week – I will be excited to see how the offense can now perform .
Defense: This is another matchup where the defensive line will have their hands full. Whether it’s C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, or Bryce Brown – the Bills feature capable running backs that can really hurt the Browns. The home team should amass a fair amount of yardage on Sunday, but the defense should focus on making the Bills kick field goals in the red zone. Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Ahtyba Rubin, and Desmond Bryant all fared well last week. It might take a repeat performance by this trio to provide confidence that the Browns can win the contest.
I was mildly surprised to see Jabaal Sheard out there last contest. He was healthy enough to play but was far from disruptive. Veteran Paul Kruger appears to be the only man on the outside who can make his presence felt during contests. A sack and a fumble recovery were huge – he needs to replicate that against Kyle Orton. Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey filled in admirably for Karlos Dansby. Who knows how long the veteran will be sidelined with his injury, but if both can continue to improve – the transition will be very smooth.
Another contest, another huge blow to the Browns’ defense. Jim Leonhard and Jordan Poyer will have their work cut out to fill the void left by Tashaun Gipson. However, the improvement of rookies K’Waun Williams and Justin Gilbert gives me faith that the secondary will not skip a beat. Veterans Buster Skrine, Joe Haden, and Donte Whitner have been downright nasty. I hope they come away with at least two interceptions of Orton – and, more importantly, turning them into touchdowns.
Special Teams: While they were far from dominant, the Browns’ special teams avoided a costly mistake last week (with the tackle on Devin Hester). The punt return game must get some sort of positive plays this contest. Making a difference there can really help out the offense.
Coaching: Coach Pettine needs to refrain from clock management mistakes. He got away with it last week, but they should not be the norm. As far as play calling goes, the trend towards the run needs to be strengthened. Hoyer should not be putting up over thirty throws, and the rushers will do their jobs well.
Prediction (My Record: 6 – 5): This will be a low scoring contest that could be ugly at times. I really want to pick the Browns, but the physicality of the Bills is a matchup nightmare. The Browns fall to the home team by the score of 20 – 14.