The Buffalo Bills (1-1) will come rumbling into Cleveland this weekend to face off against the winless Browns (0-2) in their second home game of 2012.
Buffalo looks like a real threat in the AFC East after thumping the Kansas City Chiefs at home in Week 2, while Cleveland looks competitive despite its early-season shortcomings.
Look for a tight matchup on Sunday afternoon as both defenses have struggled through the season's first two weeks.
Here is everything you need to know for Week 3's AFC clash between the Bills and Browns from Cleveland.
Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, OH
When: Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. ET
Listen: WGR 550 AM (Buffalo), WAKR 1590 AM (Cleveland)
Live Streaming: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Line: Bills (-3) over Browns, according to Covers.com.
What's At Stake?
There is much more at stake on Sunday for the Cleveland Browns than there is for the visiting Buffalo Bills. At 0-2, Cleveland is facing a must-win situation at home in Week 3. The Browns can't afford to fall two games back in the AFC North and drop their first two home games.
Buffalo is already 0-1 on the road this season, but earned a huge win last weekend to draw even in the AFC East. A loss at Cleveland in Week 3 would certainly set the Bills back, but it wouldn't be as devastating as it would be for the Browns.
Bills Injury Report
*According to ESPN.com
RB Fred Jackson (Knee), out
S Jairus Byrd (Foot), probable
Browns Injury Report
*According to ESPN.com
TE Alex Smith (Head), questionable
CB Sheldon Brown (Neck), questionable
CB Joe Haden (Suspension), out
Fantasy Start 'Em, Sit 'Em and Sleeper
Start 'Em: Trent Richardson, RB
The rookie playmaker notched his first 100-yard rushing game last week against the Bengals and will be pitted against the NFL's 24th-ranked rush defense in Buffalo this weekend. Richardson turned 23 touches into 145 total yards and two scores last weekend. Don't be surprised if he carries Cleveland's offense again this Sunday.
Sit 'Em: Benjamin Watson, TE
Cleveland Browns tight end Benjamin Watson should be avoided at all costs this weekend. Not only is the veteran dealing with a banged-up thigh, but quarterback Brandon Weeden has rarely looked his way, targeting him just once in Week 2. Watson has three catches for 36 yards through two games and is unlikely to add much to that this weekend.
Sleeper: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
Although Bills signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick has been flying under the radar this fall considering the emergence of C.J. Spiller in Buffalo's backfield, the former Harvard quarterback will have a mighty advantage on Sunday when he goes up against the NFL's fifth-worst pass defense in the Browns'.
Cleveland is still missing talented cornerback Joe Haden to suspension and is allowing over 300 passing yards per game to their opponents coming into Week 3.
What They're Saying
Bills head coach Chan Gailey had belief in running C.J. Spiller before his impressive 2012 debut, but hardly thought he would become a superstar by Week 3 (via The Buffalo News' Jerry Sullivan):
I knew he could be. I didn't know whether it would happen or not. I would like to tell you, 'Oh sure, I saw that.' But it would be a lie. I didn't see it happening like this. I knew it was capable of happening, but I didn't know it would.
Spiller has been amazing through the regular season's first two weekends and should be a big-time performer in Sunday's matchup with Cleveland.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur was not shy earlier this week when he practically called Cleveland's Week 3 home matchup with Buffalo a must-win (via The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot):
We've got to win his game. We need to do what we can to win this football game against a team that's coming off a big victory [35-17 over Kansas City], I've got a lot of respect for Buffalo, because in my opinion they've done a lot of things to upgrade their roster in the last couple of years.
The Browns have started out 0-2 in six previous seasons dating back to 1999, and they never won more than five games in any of those. An 0-3 start in 2012 would likely have them on track for another 4-12 year at best.
Bills Player to Watch
Third-year running back Spiller is the NFL's leading rusher heading into Week 3 and is averaging a ridiculous 10.1 yards per carry through two weeks. He has 292 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 29 carries in two games.
A fantasy owner's dream, Spiller has also made five catches this season for another 72 yards of offense. All you need to know is that he is averaging 146 rushing yards per game heading into Buffalo's matchup with Cleveland.
Browns Player to Watch
Rookie quarterback Weeden will be the player to watch this weekend for the Cleveland Browns. After a dismal season-opening performance against Philadelphia in Week 1, Weeden bounced back in Week 2 to prove he can play at the NFL level.
His passer rating was 5.1 in Cleveland's loss to Philly, but 114.9 in the Browns' loss to Cincinnati last weekend. Weeden more than doubled his completion percentage from Week 1 and found the end zone twice against the Bengals after throwing four interceptions to the Eagles' defense. Look for him to continue his improvement in Week 3.
The most pivotal matchup in Sunday's game will be the one between Buffalo's ground attack and Cleveland's run-stopping crew. The Bills are leading the NFL in rushing, averaging 198 yards per game. On the other hand, the Browns have proved to be a below average rush defense, surrendering an average of 115 yards on the ground per game.
On the Hot Seat
Second-year Browns head coach Shurmur is on the hot seat in Week 3. After going 4-12 a season ago, his team is off to an 0-2 start already in 2012, and has lost eight in a row dating back to last November.
Shurmur is 4-14 as head man in Cleveland and if he can't get the Browns into the win column soon he might not be invited back to Ohio next year.
Can anyone slow C.J. Spiller, let alone stop him? The way he is playing right now, I don't believe so, and that's why I like the Bills to edge the Browns by a field goal at home on Sunday. Both teams will find the end zone, but Rian Lindell's first field goal of the year will be the difference.
Bills 24, Browns 21
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