I ask myself this question every time the Browns play, but they’re the Browns and I’ll always watch. Last week the Browns got dominated by the Dolphins 39-17 and the Bills lost their second-straight game in overtime to the Vikings 33-30. This week at 1:00 p.m. (EST) Cleveland plays Buffalo in Detroit at Ford Field. Sounds like a bad joke, but it isn’t. What am I watching this week?
Browns Offense Vs. Bills Defense. Buffalo has the eighth-ranked defense in the league. On average they allow 319 yards a game, 210 yards passing, 110 yards rushing, 16.8 points per game and a turnover ratio of minus one. They play a nickel defense 96% of the time and their base defense is a 4-2-5. Because of personnel, they rarely blitz (29th in the league) and play six in the box about 90% of the time. Buffalo can apply pressure with four defensive linemen. They have 13 interceptions which is tied for first in the NFL and 27 sacks which is tied for seventh in the league. However, in the last three games, their defense has allowed on average 157 yards rushing, 236 yards passing, 23 points and had only three interceptions.
The Browns have to play a perfect game. The key will be their second possession. Lately, on the second possession of the game, the play calling and execution has been very poor. I would like to see a screen play. I can’t remember the last screen play the Browns ran. On the plus side, both WR Amari Cooper and WR Donovan Peoples-Jones have been playing well. Add the hope that TE David Njoku could play and a short passing game may help the offensive line protect QB Jacoby Brissett. Giving RB Nick Chubb at least twenty carries would also help. Time for head coach Kevin Stefanski to be consistent in his play calling.
Browns Defense VS. Bills Offense. Buffalo is the number-one-ranked offense in the league. They average 424 yards, 294 yards passing, 130 yards rushing and 27.8 points per game. They don’t run the ball often unless it’s quarterback Josh Allen. Bills running backs average sixteen carries a game while Allen averages seven yards per rush. Buffalo plays almost exclusively out of the shotgun, employing play action 24% of the time. When they use play action, Allen completes 71% of his passes. Allen leads the league in interceptions with 10 and six in his last three games, three of those in the red zone. He’s also had three fumbles in the last three games. His offensive line is average, but the left side (LT Dion Dawkins & LG Roger Saffold) and the right tackle (Spencer Brown) have not been playing well. Allen has been sacked eighteen times and nine in the last three games. In the last 10 games, the Bills have not scored a touchdown in the second half and since 2021 they are 2-9 in one-score games. The good news is Josh Allen is 0-1 versus the Browns, the bad news is he’s 4-0 in games played in domes completing 71% of his passing averaging 286 yards passing and 2.5 touchdowns. The Browns will need to play Allen like they did against Lamar Jackson, pressure and contain. Don’t allow him to run the ball up the middle. Hopefully, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will be able to play, he would be perfect to shadow Allen. The Browns will probably play more zone in the secondary because Allen has thrown seven interceptions this year against zone coverage and CB Greg Newsome is out with a concussion.
For some reason, the Bills have not been playing well the last three weeks. Local media in Buffalo are suggesting in key moments Allen is not listening to offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey (remember him) and calling his own plays. The Bills are very similar to the Bengals, so gameplan accordingly. Both teams are desperate for a win. Enjoy the game.