This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns travel to take on the Buffalo Bills in one of the least-hyped matchups of Week 14.
However, the game may well prove to be one of the most exciting as two teams that have played down to the wire several times this season face off in a battle for winter weather bragging rights.
While a 5-7 Browns team going up against the 2-10 Bills may not exactly sound like "game of the week" material, don't be fooled by records alone. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the high-powered Bills offense against a surprisingly competitive Browns team could provide plenty of excitement for footballs fans, with wintry conditions only adding to the fun.
With freezing rain and snow in the forecast for Sunday, the field could be a frozen mess by kickoff, and these are conditions that both the Bills and Browns thrive in.
Two proud and competitive teams slugging it out in a classic snowy Sunday showdown?
Count me in.
And don't count either team out until the final whistle as both the Bills and Browns have proved the will to fight until the final seconds.
The Buffalo Bills may have one of the worst records in football this season, but they are a team that refuses to go away in games, and the Browns will certainly have their hands full in this contest. Cleveland cannot afford to overlook the Bills, and here are several keys to a winning game plan for the Browns.
As has been the case all season, the Browns' best chance for offensive success is using Peyton Hillis as much as possible.
Hillis has become the Browns running back that no one saw coming. He can seemingly do it all, and do it well. Running through, around, and over defenders, Hillis is a human highlight reel that has fans cheering and Browns players believing.
Hillis has proven that he can handle the load as Cleveland's featured back and should surpass the coveted thousand yard mark on Sunday. He also boasts outstanding ability as a receiving threat, making Hillis the single most important piece of the Browns' offense.
The Buffalo Bills feature the league's worst run defense, making this an ideal matchup for the Browns. Hillis could have a field day with Bills defenders and should weather conditions make passing the football difficult, the plowing running back would be the snow plow the Browns ride to victory.
Peyton Hillis is quickly approaching near-legendary status in Cleveland, and a big day, galloping in the snow, would only add to the legend.
While a large majority of the offensive game plan will focus on Peyton Hillis, the Browns cannot run the risk of overworking him.
Even the Incredible Mr. Hillis can succumb to fatigue.
Giving Hillis some plays off throughout the game should allow him to remain effective late into the fourth quarter, when the game may still be on the line.
The Browns' next option at running back is the little-used Mike Bell, acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles in the trade that sent former Brown Jerome Harrison packing.
By now, Bell should be acclimated to the Browns' offense, and giving him a few carries per quarter should allow Hillis to catch his breath after all that work running through the Buffalo defense.
Of course, a strong running game often opens things up for the play-action pass, a strategy the Cleveland Browns would be wise to take advantage of.
Quarterback Jake Delhomme has had turnover problems, to say the least, but with a clean pocket and clear throwing lanes, he has shown the ability to find receivers and move the chains. By utilizing play-action, the Browns should be able to keep the Bills off-balance and afford Delhomme the conditions he needs to move the ball downfield.
Delhomme has developed solid chemistry with the Browns' receivers and with tight end Ben Watson, who leads the Browns with 574 receiving yards. Cleveland will want to lean on their rushing attack as much as possible, but passing off of play-action could help open things up on offense.
If the Cleveland offense can net a few big gains off of play-action, it will also prevent the Buffalo defense from focusing completely on Peyton Hillis and the running game.
Even if the Cleveland Browns find they can move the ball easily against the Bills, they may not want to do so too quickly.
Grinding out yards via the running game and with short timing passes should allow the Browns to control the tempo of the game and also keep the Bills' suddenly explosive offense off of the field.
Should this game turn into an offensive shootout, it could spell disaster for the Browns. Asking an aging Jake Delhomme to go pass for pass against an ever-improving Ryan Fitzpatrick is simply a bad idea.
Delhomme doesn't have the weapons that Fitzpatrick has at his disposal, and the Browns just don't have an answer for Steve Johnson and Lee Evans at wide receiver.
The idea of winning the turnover battle may seem like a no-brainer, but with interception-prone Jake Delhomme leading the charge for the Browns, it cannot be overstated.
Bad weather conditions could also make the situation ripe for a sloppy game full of mistakes, and the Browns need to ensure that they are on the winning side of those mistakes.
The Cleveland Browns have had success generating turnovers on defense this season, especially in the last few weeks. This is a trend that must continue on Sunday.
The Browns also need to be careful not to turn the ball over on offense as the team simply cannot afford to just give away precious field position, especially if weather conditions make moving the football difficult.
The Cleveland Browns may be a team on the rise, but they are not yet good enough to consistently win when making multiple mistakes, and the road to success all starts with taking care of the football.
As important as establishing a strong running game will be for Cleveland, it will be equally important to slow the rushing attack of the Buffalo Bills.
Of course, trying to stop the tandem of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller is easier said than done, but it should still be the Browns' primary focus on defense, even more so if the weather is less than ideal.
The defense of the Browns has continued to make improvements throughout the season and currently ranks 11th in the league in scoring defense with just under 20 points allowed per game. However, if Cleveland allows Buffalo to control the ground and the tempo, it could make it difficult for the Browns defense to hold up for the entire game.
If the Browns can control the ground game and force the Bills to win with the pass, then they may also be able to force the Bills into making mistakes.
With Fitzpatrick, Evans and Johnson on the roster, Buffalo has a solid passing attack, but the Browns ball-hawking secondary may be able to take advantage and create some turnovers if the running game of the Bills is taken away.
As much as the addition of Sheldon Brown, T.J. Ward and Joe Haden has improved the Browns defense, the secondary cannot cover the Bills receivers all day long.
If the Browns cannot find a way to generate a pass rush, they are inviting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to pick the defense apart.
Fitzpatrick is strong-armed and accurate, and the Harvard graduate has possibly the highest football IQ of any quarterback in football. If he is given enough time to throw, Fitzpatrick will find holes in the defense, no matter how good the coverage may be.
In order to prevent such a situation, the Browns must come out rushing the passer early and often. Fortunately for Cleveland, sending the pass rush is something that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan loves to do. Expect Ryan to employ several blitz packages, and also expect Browns sack leader, Marcus Benard, to be a big part of the defensive game plan.
Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers may not be putting up the stats this season that he has the past few years, but he can still be a dominant defensive force.
Getting Rogers involved early seems to keep him motivated, and a motivated Shaun Rogers is dangerous to everyone on the other side of the ball.
Rogers can control the line of scrimmage on early downs and can single-handedly collapse the pocket in passing situations.
Rogers has been hampered by nagging injuries for much of the season but finally appears to be returning to form as evidenced by a strong performance last week against the Miami Dolphins, which included yet another of his patented field goal blocks.
This game could easily be won or lost in the trenches, and the presence of Big Baby could give the Browns a decided advantage at the point of attack.
Far too often this season, the Browns have found themselves in position to win only to lose because of a dreadful penchant for giving up the big play.
The offense of the Buffalo Bills has quick-strike ability, and if the Browns allow them to hit the big play in this one, it could easily turn into another Browns loss that shouldn't have been.
The defense of the Cleveland Browns has played some impressive football at times in 2010 but has often struggled to remain consistent for a full four quarters. Poor tackling and blown coverage has led to late meltdowns against Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Jacksonville and in a heart-breaking loss to the New York Jets.
With blowout wins over the Saints and Patriots this season, the Browns have proven that they can beat anyone in football. However, the Browns have also proven that with a single lapse on defense, they can lose to anyone as well. If the Browns don't play solid defensive football for the entire game, that could also include the Buffalo Bills.
Whenever the Browns and the Bills get together, it often seems that the play of the special teams units become the deciding factor.
Last season, it was a punters' duel that eventually found the Browns on top. In a 2007 blizzard game, it was two Phil Dawson field goals and a safety on a Bills punt attempt that led to an 8-0 win for the Browns.
With another winter storm on the horizon, it could again be the play of special teams that decides the game on Sunday. This would be a scenario that favors the Browns.
Kicker Phil Dawson seems to perform at his best when the weather turns bad, and punter Reggie Hodges has been simply outstanding for the Browns in 2010. Hodges leads the entire NFL with punts inside the opponent's 10-yard line with 13 on the year.
Of course, let's not forget about special teamer extraordinaire, Josh Cribbs. Even though he is still nursing a foot injury, Cribbs is always a threat to break a game-changing play. Cribbs can even change the course of a game when he doesn't touch the ball, by forcing opponents to kick away from him out of pure fear.
Football is a game of inches, and it is often a well-timed kick or well-placed punt that turns the tide of a game. On Sunday, it could very well be another special performance from the Browns' special teams that leads Cleveland to victory.
With both Cleveland and Buffalo having been involved in so many close games this season, it would only be fitting.