Week 5: Bills vs. Browns
This matchup is suddenly interesting and is now worthy of the national stage as the Bills and Browns get set for the Battle of Lake Erie in prime time on Thursday Night Football. Both teams were considered bottom feeders when the season started but they are surprising almost everyone as they both come in at 2-2. The winner will be one of the early season big surprises by being over .500 five games into the season.
Thursday, Oct. 3rd
FACTS AND FIGURES
||Buffalo (2-2) vs. Cleveland (2-2)
||First Energy Stadium
||Network: NFLN; DirecTV: 212; Sirius: 92
||Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, and Alex Flanagan
||Browns by 4½
||Browns lead 10-7 (Bills 0-1 in playoffs)
||Bills Won 2
||Bills 24-14 in Cleveland (2012)
||Rush (27th); Pass (14th); overall (24th)
||Rush (4th); Pass (9th); overall (3rd)
||Rush (2nd); Pass (28th); overall (16th)
||Rush (27th); Pass (22nd); overall (27th)
The Bills injury woes continue to grow and now running back is a concern as both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson suffered injuries against Baltimore. Jackson should be able to play with a sprained MCL. Spiller will be a gametime decision with a sprained ankle. Leodis McKelvin is hoping to return from a hamstring injury. He is day to day and will likely also be a gametime decision. Jairus Byrd is still bothered by plantar fasciitis but is finally practicing fully so he has a chance to play this week. Marquise Goodwin, Stephon Gilmore, Dustin Hopkins, and Ron Brooks remain sidelined but Goodwin is closer to returning.
The Browns have QB Brandon Weeden healthy after missing two games with a thumb injury but he will remain on the bench since former Patriot Brian Hoyer is 2-0 as the starter. LB Quentin Groves is battling a high ankle sprain.
Check out our Bills Daily Injury Page throughout the week for the latest updates on the injured players.
LT Cordy Glenn vs. DE Desmond Bryant:
Glenn is having a solid season but struggled last week. Bryant leads the Browns with 4½ sacks. Glenn needs to keep him away from EJ Manuel.
WR Stevie Johnson vs. CB Joe Haden:
Johnson is coming off a tough game and faces Haden who is a solid corner. Johnson will work out of the slot a lot which means Haden may not matchup with him all the time since he's usually a boundary corner. That means Woods may have to deal with Haden much of the time.
DB Aaron Williams vs. TE Jordan Cameron:
Williams may play safety, he may play corner or he may not play at all because of a back injury. If he's out there, he may be the guy that sticks to Cameron who is quickly developing into one of the top tight ends in the league.
LB Kiko Alonso vs. QB Brian Hoyer:
Alonso has had at least one takeaway in all four games including four interceptions. Hoyer will need to be aware of where he is at all times.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Get Banged Up Running Game Working: The Bills need to be able to run the ball as they face the 4th ranked run defense for the third straight week. They had a lot of success last week and little success against the Jets. They need to duplicate what they did against Baltimore this week but it will be harder with Jackson and Spiller very banged up.
2. Get Off To A Quick Start: The Browns fans are rabid to begin with add in the two game winning streak and a prime time home game and the place will be very loud. The Bills need to get them calmed down quickly by getting an early lead.
3. End Hoyer Mania: The story of Brian Hoyer is what fairy tales are made of. He is a hometown guy who is a career backup. He has now won two straight starts and is an instant hero in Cleveland. The Bills defense needs to bring him back to earth quickly.
BILLS DAILY PREDICTION
This game can go either way but the new look Bills need to prove that they can win on the road. The injuries at running back are a concern against the top notch defense the Browns have so far this year. The two teams are evenly matched on paper but being at home, and not having the injury woes the Bills have, tilts this one in Cleveland's favor:
Browns 13, Bills 9
Season Prediction Record: (2-2)
Season Record Against The Spread: (1-3)
Bills Blitz - Coming After The Game!
Gameday Grades - Coming Friday Morning!