Browns vs Bills Game Preview!!


On Sunday afternoon the Buffalo Bills will host the Cleveland Browns in a huge game with massive AFC playoff implications. It will mark the return to “home” for the Buffalo Bills, after snow forced them to play their “home” game against the Jets in Detroit last week. The crowd will be fired up for this one, the first big game in November in Buffalo in nearly a decade.

If you asked most NFL fans at the start of the season if the Bills and Browns would be playing each other in a game with huge playoff implications in November they would have probably told you no. Yet here we are with the Bills at 6-5 and the Browns at 7-4. Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives and a loss could spell doom for the losers playoff hopes. With that being said, Sunday should be a lot of fun.

Last week the Browns were lucky to survive against Atlanta, and only did so due to the horrendous clock management by Falcons head coach Mike Smith. The Bills on the other hand dominated the Jets and quieted their restless fan base (at least for a week) with a win that kept their playoff hopes alive.

Sunday will mark Mike Pettine’s return to Buffalo after being hired as head coach by the Browns this past off-season. The fans in Buffalo will be fired up for this one, after literally digging their stadium out of 7 feet of snow and losing last weeks home game because of it. Being that Jim Kelly will lead the Bills onto the field and with a win the Bills will improve to 7-5 and keep their playoff hopes alive, Ralph Wilson Stadium will be ready to erupt by kickoff.

So, what will it take for the Bills to walk out of Ralph Wilson Stadium as winners tomorrow? Let’s take a look at 5 keys to victory for the Bills:

1) Pressure Brian Hoyer. Hoyer has shown signs of unraveling the past few weeks, and he threw two horrible interceptions in the 4th quarter last week that nearly cost the Browns the game. If Cleveland had lost last week (and they should have) the Cleveland fan base probably would have been calling for his head. If the Bills can pressure Hoyer they can force him into some mistakes. The more the Bills defensive line is in the backfield tomorrow, the more likely the Bills are to win the game.

2) Run the ball. The Browns have had trouble defending the run all season. If the Bills can establish a good running game early using Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon, and Bryce Brown, than it should open up play action passing lanes for Kyle Orton. While offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has been pass happy for the majority of the past 2 months, a re-commitment to the running game tomorrow would be a very wise decision.

3) Win the turnover battle. Put simply, when the Bills win the turnover battle, they win the game. Last week the Bills did not turn the ball over at all and as a result they stomped the Jets. When they faced the Chiefs two critical turnovers cost the Bills the game. If the Bills can protect the ball and force Cleveland into a few turnovers than the Bills will put themselves in a great position to walk away with the win.

4) Get Sammy Watkins involved early. The past few weeks have been rather quiet for Sammy Watkins. It would behoove the Bills to get him involved early tomorrow. I would love to see him involved in a few screen passes. Watkins thrived at Clemson using similar plays and I have been flabbergasted by Nathaniel Hackett’s reluctance to utilize that play this season. Tomorrow would be a great time to try.

5) Finish drives with touchdowns, not field goals. I don’t have to beat a dead horse here, everyone knows the Bills struggles in the red zone this season. On Sunday they need to finish drives with 7 points rather than 3. If the Bills settle for field goals rather than punching the ball into the end zone than they will not win. Red Zone execution is critical to the Bills winning tomorrow.

With all that being said, I fully expect a great effort from the Bills tomorrow. I, unlike most of the mainstream media, thought the Bills would dominate on Monday, and I was right. I expect the same thing tomorrow. The crowd and team will be fired up for the game after the snow storm and missed home game last week. When you throw in the fact that this might be the biggest game in Buffalo in nearly a decade, I think the atmosphere will help the Bills immensely. Home field advantage is always important in the NFL, but it is even more important in late November and December games. That carries the Bills tomorrow.