First: I cannot wait until my title for Cleveland articles can justify not using the words “my concerns.”
Second: Much like the Browns this year, Buffalo has played like a team with nothing to lose. Despite losing records, both teams have fought hard to the final whistle, which makes this clash of the underdogs such an interesting contest.
Third: The pass-happy offense of the Bills is going to face a Cleveland Browns defense that has made a habit out of intercepting passes. With inclement weather scheduled for Sunday, the Browns’ young secondary should be chomping at the bit for more. Fitzpatrick and company can put up a lot of points, so it is going to be very important for Cleveland to make sure tackles (something that they have improved on as the year has progressed) and keep the plays in front of them.
Fourth: Cleveland should be looking to stop the run, as well as control the clock with their own rushing attack (aka, Peyton Hillis). Fred Jackson did not initially start the season for the Bills as the No. 1 back, but he is proving that last year's 1,000-yard rushing (in only 11 starts) was not a fluke. He is close to 700 (in nine starts) and his right on pace with his 4.5 career yards per attempt. Cleveland will need to keep him under control and force the Bills into some long third down situations. If Hillis can do his usual damage, Cleveland should find themselves in a position to win the game.
Fifth: This is my biggest concern for Sunday’s contest: Jake Delhomme. He is 2-0 in his last two starts, but he nearly gave the Panthers game away on interceptions and he still looks like a scared rookie in the pocket. If he tries to do more than he is asked, Cleveland could find themselves in a huge hole. The Browns do not have the downfield weapons to keep pace in a high-scoring game, so ball control and balance are very important factors for a Cleveland win.
Sixth: Cleveland has a 10-5 all-time record against the Bills, and a 5-2 record on the road in Buffalo. Cleveland has won the last three meetings in a row, dating back to December of 2007. If you play the numbers game, the Bills are due for a win. If you couple those stats with the amount of close games that the Bills have already played this year, if could be very difficult for Cleveland to walk out of Buffalo with a win.
Overall, this should be a great game to watch. I expect a low-scoring war of attrition. This game could be decided on who wins the time of possession, and who commits the fewest mistakes.
By LowCountryBrownsFan - Jabberhead, SJ Contributing Author