This Sunday is the first day of the rest of our lives without Braylon Edwards. OK, that might also be a little melodramatic, but one can’t help but wonder how the Browns roster has changed, and if this will truly be a case of addition-by-subtraction. One game at a time. We just need to keep getting better every day. [insert favorite coach-speak cliché here]
The Bills are a team that, on paper at least, is almost as bad as the Browns are. They give up 150+ yards a game on the ground and 27.5 points per game. They barely touch 110 yards a game rushing on offense, and under 200 yards a game passing. They have TO. So, on paper it would appear that this might be the game for the Browns to get off the schneide. But, as we know, nothing is ever easy for this Browns team. Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
Craig: …they can shut down Buffalo’s weapons. Much like our Browns, the Bills don’t have a plethora of playmakers.Terrell Owens is certainly a playmaker, but so far this year he has 8 catches. The Browns will need to force the Bills to beat them with someone not named T.O. On the other side, the Browns are going to have to find some people to carry the offense. Mohamed Massoquai will certainly have a lot of Buffalo’s attention after exploding last week. Don’t be surprised if he ends up getting a lot of safeties thrown his way in coverage this week. The Browns should be relatively easy to game plan for defensively. We all know this. The Browns will have to find some people to make some big plays, whether it is Jerome Harrison, Massoquai, Furrey, Cribbs, or (gasp) Brian Robiskie getting his first meaningful action of the season. I don’t know that I would bet on it necessarily, but that is what needs to happen for the Browns to win the game.
Scott: …both sides play with the same intensity that they did last week. It sucks, but this team has zero room for error. They need to have next to no penalties, catch every pass thrown their way and bring down the opposition on first contact. Derek Anderson’s home/away splits are not pretty in the least, so he’ll need to rectify that issue this Sunday. Buffalo’s running game scares me more than their passing, so if we can neutralize like we did with Cincinnati through the four quarters of regulation, I see no reason why we cannot be competitive once again. Terrell Owens is bound to break out with a big game sooner or later, let’s just make sure that it doesn’t happen this week.
DP: …the defense picks up where they left off from the second half against Cincinnati. Buffalo’s offense is 22nd in yards per game thus far, so it should set up for the Browns defense to continue their trend of solid play. The Bills are scoring under 20 points a game, and their passing stats (which seems to be the Browns’ biggest defensive weakness) are pedestrian. If the defense comes to play the way they did in the third and most of the fourth quarters last week, it should help to ease the burden on the Browns’ offense. Speaking of which, despite the fact that the Bills’ defense has struggled itself (28th in the league in yards-against, and 27.5 points/game), it is my view that the Browns’ offense might struggle against them. Like him or hate him, Edwards–despite his lack of numbers–did command a lot of attention over the top from opposing defenses. Massaquoi had a great game against the Bengals, but he also benefitted from single coverage and getting the second- and third-best cornerbacks matching up against him. No longer; Mo-Mass is going to get matched up against Buffalo’s #1 CB, whomever that might be. The key will be the continuation of some semblence of a running game for Cleveland. Jerome Harrison looked solid against the Bengals, and the Bills give up 150+ yards a game on the ground. Harrison had a good game against Buffalo last year; he needs to again for the Browns to come out with their first win.
RockKing: …they can build on the positive things they did last game. Against the Bengals, the Browns finally came close to putting together a complete game. It wasn’t exactly where they needed to be yet, but it was closer than they were in the first 3 games of the season. What the Browns need to do now is find their hunger and actually build on the things they did well and improve on the things they didn’t do well. Too often in the Browns recent history it has seemed like whenever the Browns played a good game, they would rest on their laurels and suffer a major setback in the subsequent game. It will be up to Eric Mangini and his staff to find a way to get this team to focus. It may not be easy with the distraction of the Braylon Edwards trade, but on the other hand, without the Peacock around, maybe the team’s focus will actually improve. Whatever the case, the Browns need to do better than 6-19 conversions on 3rd downs. For whatever reason, DA’s already questionable-at-best accuracy gets even worse on 3rd downs, and that’s something he absolutely must improve upon. It will be interesting to see if teams defend the Browns differently now that the Peacock is gone and that downfield threat is missing. It will be up to DA to still find ways to connect on some downfield throws to his receivers in order to loosen up the defense a bit. If that happens, and if the Browns improve on their efficiency, and they can improve in a couple other areas, the Browns certainly have a chance to come out of Buffalo with a win, and that’s a stark improvement from the feeling most of us had a week ago.
Rick: …they continue to make gains in the running game. It is no small coincidence that the first game they were competitive in this season is the first game that they ran the ball effectively. I imagine that the passing game will struggle with the changes made this week.
Denny: …somebody (anybody) can step up at receiver and show they can make catches and stretch the defense. With Braylon gone and no real proven receivers I expect the Bills to stack the box and honestly don’t see the Browns getting an offensive touchdown unless somebody has a big receiving game. We know DA can chuck the ball like, really far – we just don’t know if anybody will be 1) open or 2) able to catch the ball.
What say, there, fuzzy britches?