When a lot of Buffalo Bills' fans saw the schedule come out this year I am sure many of them circled this weeks game against the Cleveland Browns. In fact, I'll bet some players and coaches circled it as well.
Last year, two of the most stinging defeats for the Bills were the loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Monday Night Debacle, and the loss to the Browns that eliminated them from playoff contention.
This Monday night the Bills can gain some much needed redemption on national television with a win.
The Bills are in a difficult spot right now. They have dropped three games in a row, all to divisional opponents. If the Bills are to have any chance of claiming a division crown this year, it goes without saying that they must win this week.
The Browns have been a disappointment this year. After putting up a 10-6 record last year and just missing the playoffs, the Browns stumbled out of the gates and have struggled to put teams away in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Derek Anderson has been benched in favor of Brady Quinn and he will have to lead the Browns over Buffalo if they want an outside shot a wild card.
Just like last week I will say it again this week, the Bills have to run the football to win. It's just that simple. The Browns have some talent in the middle of their defensive line, but they are not playing great defense as a whole right now. The Browns are ranked 26th in rushing yards allowed per game. This could be the week Buffalo puts up some numbers on the ground.
The Browns 20th ranked pass defense should allow the Bills to hit some completions. Lee Evans has to be a force because James Hardy and Roscoe Parrish have not shown the consistency Trent Edwards has been missing in Josh Reed. I would not be surprised if Steve Johnson got some more playing time this week in an effort to find some consistency among the wide receivers.
After a strong game against the Jets, Derek Fine was a non-factor against the Patriots. I would like to see him more involved in the offense this week. Robert Royal has not done anything this year to warrant a lock as the starting tight end, and should be benched in favor of Fine, or even Derek Schouman.
The Browns played well last week and should have beaten Denver. Brady Quinn was solid in his debut, throwing two touchdown's and no interceptions. He immediately developed chemistry with tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. who had over a hundred yards recieving and caught both of Quinn's touchdowns.
This is a dangerous game for Buffalo. Brady Quinn played well despite having only a few days to get ready. Against the Bills he will have a couple extra days of preparation. Quinn has all the makings of a good NFL quarterback, and it would be a huge mistake for the Bills to not show him any respect.
The Browns have a lot of offensive weapons. Jamal Lewis is a punishing back who ran well against Buffalo in the snow last year. The Browns are going to try to get him going early in order to take pressure off Quinn. When Quinn does throw, the Bills have to cover Kellen Winslow Jr. He has big play capability, and could make it a long night for the Bills. Braylon Edwards is also very dangerous when he isn't dropping the ball.
Buffalo's defense has to get pressure on Quinn up the middle. He has a great pocket awareness and has that uncanny ability to step up in the pocket and deliver a strike with pressure around him. The defensive line is going to struggle to get to Quinn, so the linebackers and safeties are going to have to come from all over, especially between the tackles if they want to disrupt him and force mistakes.
I would look for Buffalo to show Quinn some different formations and a lot of pre-snap movement in an effort to confuse him. If the Bills continue to drop their linebackers 15 yards off the line of scrimmage in coverage though, the Browns will feast on underneath passes.
Buffalo has a great opportunity to gain some much needed momentum with a win. The biggest thing Buffalo has to do against Cleveland is play with some passion and intensity. If they go out there and go through the motions, they will lose. Last year's humiliating loss to the Cowboys in front of the nation should be enough reason to get fired up, not to mention they are in very real danger of missing the playoffs with a loss.
Donte Whitner looks to play coming of a shoulder injury, and he should be very fired up playing against his hometown team, which will hopefully be contagious.
Buffalo comes out hot and doesn't let up: Bills 37, Browns 17.