The Buffalo Bills rebounded from a disappointing loss in their opener by blowing out the Kansas City Chiefs, and will look to make it two in a row on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are 0-2 after a couple of narrow losses.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the Bills after a busy offseason highlighted by the addition of Mario Williams. It looked like it was unwarranted after getting crushed by the New York Jets in Week 1, but they looked a lot more like a playoff contender last week.
It's been a frustrating start for the Browns. They could easily be undefeated right now, but fell one score short in each game. Cleveland has a difficult schedule ahead, so a victory this week is essential or things are likely to go downhill quickly.
Before the Bills and Browns battle, let's take a look at all the key information for the AFC clash and make some predictions for what happen on Sunday.
Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio
When: Sunday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread: Bills -3 (via Vegas Insider)
Buffalo played a well-rounded game against the Chiefs. Ryan Fitzpatrick made better decisions, C.J. Spiller ran wild and the improved defense made a lot more big plays. It's the type of all-around production the team will need to succeed all season.
On the flip side, the Browns have some impressive young players on the roster, but still have some holes to fill before they become a contender in the tough AFC North. There will be plenty of ups and downs as players develop, as Brandon Weeden has illustrated already.
If the Bills want to end their extended playoff drought, this is the type of game they need to win. Coming off a win last week, they should have enough firepower to beat the Browns and cover the spread.
Over/Under: 44 (via Vegas Insider)
The Bills' defense made great strides in Week 2 after a lackluster opener and the Browns are better on that side of the ball than they showed against the Cincinnati Bengals. That's why I would lean toward the under here.
It's hard to imagine this game becoming a shootout. The last time these teams played two years ago, the Browns won 13-6. Although both offenses have added some talent since that point, the defenses should still have an edge.
Expect a close, low-scoring game for the first half before the Bills pull away in the second. More points should be scored than last time, but still safely under the line.
Key Injuries (via CBS Sports)
Bills: Fred Jackson (out, knee), Jairus Byrd (questionable, ankle) and Nick Barnett (questionable, knee)
Browns: Joshua Cribbs (questionable, knee), Scott Fujita (probable, knee), Greg Little (probable, back) and Trent Richardson (probable, knee)
Fantasy Big Plays
Bills: C.J. Spiller
Spiller has been a savior for the Bills. When Fred Jackson got injured in Week 1, the entire offense could have fallen apart, but Spiller was able to build off the success he had near the end of last season and has been terrific.
Fantasy owners who took a chance on the running back late in drafts have been rewarded to the tune of 292 rushing yards and three touchdowns as well as 72 receiving yards. He should continue to serve as the focal point of the offense Sunday.
It's unclear what will happen when Jackson is cleared to return, but as for now Spiller is one of the best fantasy options at the position. His combination of versatility and big-play ability make him a must-start option.
Browns: Trent Richardson
After a lackluster debut, Richardson bounced back nicely to record more than 140 total yards and two touchdowns in Week 2. That's the type of production owners were expecting when they drafted him with an early pick.
His injury history is concerning, but as long as he's healthy, he should be a solid fantasy player. Like Spiller, he's capable of making plays both on the ground and as a receiver, which increases his value, especially in PPR leagues.
The Bills' defense is going to spend a lot of time trying to put heat on Weeden, so calling a lot of draw plays should open up room for Richardson to have a second straight big game. He deserves a spot in fantasy lineups this week.
Key to Bills Win: Pass rush
Buffalo's pass rush showed what it's capable of against the Chiefs, sacking Matt Cassel five times. In order for the Bills to make up for some weakness in the secondary, the front four needs to get a lot of pressure on the opposing quarterback.
Weeden was downright dreadful in his first game, but looked much more comfortable last week. The Bills have to make sure he doesn't find that same comfort zone. They need to hit him early and often to force typical rookie mistakes.
If the Bills' pass rush, led by Williams, can have success, everything else should fall into place on defense. That was the case in each of the first two weeks and will probably stay that way throughout the entire season.
Key to Browns Win: Brandon Weeden
A lot has been made about Weeden being a 28-year-old rookie. But that extra maturity appears to have helped him already. A younger quarterback probably wouldn't have been able to recover so quickly from the disastrous opener he had.
Over the next three weeks the Browns face the Bills, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants. Games against those three defenses will be a tremendous learning experience for Weeden, and should help him in the long haul even if he struggles.
If the Browns want to pull of the minor upset this week, Weeden needs to get the ball out of his hands quickly to beat the Bills' pass rush. It's what Mark Sanchez did effectively in Week 1, so the blueprint is out there to study.
Bills 21, Browns 13