The 0-13 Cleveland Browns are still fighting for that first win and to avoid the dreaded 0-16 mark that is awaiting them.
This week they maybe in luck as they’re facing the 6-7 Buffalo Bills who are falling off the tracks and are headed for another coaching change unless a magical ending happens.
Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus guaranteed a victory while meeting with the media earlier in the week and wide receiver Sammy Watkins said if they lose to the winless Browns, “Something crazy might happen immediately.” I think he’s alluding to head coach Rex Ryan’s departure will happen sooner than Black Monday on January 2.
Both teams are hungry for a victory and I’m expecting a knockout brawl in the wintry conditions at Orchard Park to get that victory.
Matchup to Watch
Browns run defense vs Bills run offense
The Buffalo Bills have the top rushing offense averaging 5.4 yards per carry and 154.6 yards per game.
LeSean McCoy leads the team with 976 yards and ten touchdowns, quarterback Tyrod Taylor is a dual threat with 471 yards and six touchdowns and backup running back Mike Gillislee has 409 yards and six touchdowns.
The Browns run defense has looked better in spurts but is still the second worst team in the league in stopping the run, giving up on average 4.6 yards per carry and 146.2 yards per game.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton has to come up with the perfect game plan to stop the run attack by the Bills or it is going to be a very long day for the Browns.
Keys to the game
Run the ball more
The Cleveland Browns last week ran the ball only fourteen times with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson combined against Cincinnati. They averaged almost ten yards per carry with those two and if they would’ve ran it more especially in those weather conditions, the game would’ve been closer or the Browns could’ve won.
The forecast in Orchard Park is calling for cold temperatures and wind above 15 mph. I know head coach Hue Jackson and the front office want to see what quarterback Robert Griffin III has but if they’re serious about wanting to win, run the ball a lot against Buffalo.
The Bills are 28th in the league against the run and last week in similar weather conditions, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell
set a franchise record with 236 rushing yards against the Bills defense.
Give Crow and Duke the ball and let them run wild against the poor Buffalo run defense.
Stop the Run
Just like Buffalo needs to stop Cleveland’s potential run attack, the Browns need to stop theirs in order to win. Not only is LeSean McCoy a concern but they need to contain quarterback Tyrod Taylor from getting in the open field.
Pittsburgh held Buffalo to just 67 yards on the ground which limited their offense in the 27-20 victory for the Steelers. That was only fourth time in 13 games that the Bills were held to below 100 yards rushing, they’re also 0-4 when that happens this season.
The Browns need to find a way to stop the run because when that happens, the Bills offense stalls out. If they don’t find a way to stop it, it’s going to get ugly.
Eight times this season, the Bills have rushed for 150 yards or more in a game. Three times they’ve rushed for over 200 yards including 313 against the 49ers in Week 6.
The Browns have given up 150 rushing yards or more four times this season including over two hundred yards twice, both coming against Cincinnati.
With the weather conditions, I expect this to be a close game with both teams running the ball a lot. Hopefully someone in Berea is telling Hue Jackson that RG3 throwing a lot isn’t a good formula to win with.
Look to Buffalo’s offense as a potential formula for success. Yes, Buffalo is 6-7 but I’d rather be that than 0-13. Run the ball, put Griffin in good situations to use that arm he has to get the ball in the end zone.
And you have Terrelle Pryor, who’s 6’4 with 4.3 speed, try to get him the ball so there’s less media stories about arguing on the sidelines.
Now I was going to pick Buffalo but with this new report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, I don’t expect the Bills to be fully focused on today’s game.
So with that coming out, I expect the Browns to jump on the Bills turmoil and upset them for their first victory of 2016.
Browns 20 Bills 17