Week 13 “Three and Out”: Browns at Bills

AP

When the NFL schedule came out in April, not many people circled their calendars for the November 30 Browns-Bills matchup as a battle of two teams with winning records. But that’s where we are, as the 7-4 Browns and 6-5 Bills have been two of the more pleasant surprises in the AFC.

Here are three questions on this surprisingly intriguing game:

1. Can one of these teams make the playoffs?

The Browns haven’t been in a playoff game since a 36-33 loss to the Steelers on January 5, 2003. The only team that’s been out of the playoffs for longer? The Bills, whose last playoff game was the Music City Miracle on January 8, 2000.

This year, both of these teams remain alive late in the season, which in and of itself represents progress from where they’ve usually been in recent years. But only the Browns have a realistic chance of getting to the postseason.

Cleveland still controls its path to the playoffs and is guaranteed to get to the postseason if it wins out. And even if the Browns drop a game and go 4-1 the rest of the way, an 11-5 record would almost certainly be enough to make the playoffs. The Browns aren’t favorites to get to the postseason, but they have a very legitimate opportunity to do it.

The Bills, on the other hand, may have to settle for playing spoiler. At 6-5, the Bills are on the outside looking in, and they have a very rough schedule the rest of the way that includes games against the Broncos, Packers and Patriots. Buffalo is good enough to win at least one of those games and hurt some other team’s playoff chances, but probably not good enough to win all of those games, which is what it would probably take to reach the postseason.

2. Will Sammy Watkins make the Browns regret trading down?

Watkins said this week that he thought the Browns were going to take him, based on interest the Browns showed before the draft. But with the Browns on the clock and Watkins still on the board, Cleveland traded down with Buffalo, which took Watkins.

Now Watkins gets an opportunity to show the Browns what they missed out on. Watkins has had a good rookie season, although not quite the kind of great rookie season that he’d have to have to be worth the huge price the Bills paid (including next year’s first- and fourth-round picks) to move up and take him. If Watkins can have a big day in a big game against Cleveland, that would be a positive sign that Buffalo made the right call when they pulled the trigger on that very big trade.

But that won’t be easy against a good Browns pass defense. Watkins has been good this year, but the Cleveland secondary has been better. Browns safety Tashaun Gipson, who is leading the league with six interceptions, is out after suffering a knee injury last week, however, which gives the Bills some hope that Kyle Orton might be able to connect with Watkins deep down the middle of the field. Some big plays from Watkins could be just what the Bills’ offense needs.

3. What will Josh Gordon do for an encore?

In Gordon’s first game of the season last week, all he did was catch eight passes for 120 yards. Can he do even better than that in his second game?

He’s going to have a hard time topping himself for two reasons. First, the Bills’ schemes tend to clamp down on opposing No. 1 receivers, forcing teams to go to their second or third options. If the Bills are going to let any receiver beat them, it’s not going to be Gordon.

And even more importantly, the Bills’ pass rush is outstanding. Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer is going to have a tough time staying upright when Mario Williams (12 sacks this season), Marcell Dareus (10) and Jerry Hughes (9.5) are coming after him. The Bills have the personnel to make Hoyer’s life miserable, which means that even if Gordon can get open, he may not get many passes thrown his way.

33 responses to “Week 13 “Three and Out”: Browns at Bills

  1. Bills are suffering from the curse of Doug Flutie. Would of beaten the Titans if they had started him.

  2. ohand16
    You do know that for the pick to be top 5.. The Bills would have to finish in the bottom 5 of the league?There are actually 13 teams with worse records. I usually root for the Browns when they aren’t playing the Bills but over this season the factory of sadness has begun to sound like they deserve to be snake bitten. Kind of like Jets fans. Hopefully we put the Browns down tomorrow so Whitner and the rest of Cleveland shut up.

  3. @Ohand16

    I *STRONGLY* doubt it’s gonna be a top 5 pick. Doubt it’s gonna be top *10* pick even…

    (Currently, if the season ended now – Cleveland’s Bills pick would be the 14th pick and the Browns have the 16th as their own…)

    Enjoy watching Hoyer eat turf tomorrow

  4. A. Not playing well against the Cleveland secondary will not make Watkins a bust. If that’s the case the Bengals need to drop AJ Green now because Joe Haden normally makes him look pretty bad.

    B. Cleveland wins the line battle vs the Bills defense. It’s the Bills secondary that will have to make the difference on that side (see every Cleveland game this year as proof of that)

    This game will be a battle of running backs (which should be even) and coaching (which is questionable on both ends). Should be entertaining (or frustrating if you’re a Browns or Bills fan). If Mike Pettine doesn’t completely choke vs his old team expect big things from Cleveland the rest of the way.

  5. Two good young teams who play up to the level of the competition.

    Both can see the playoffs in their future after a very long drought.

    Gordon will do more for the superior Browns running game.

    Bills DL is better and will have an impact.

    Intensity and emotion rule the day.

    Cleveland in a thriller 24-21.

  6. If anyone has read TMQ on ESPN, it was opined that Gordon was largely responsible for two of Hoyer’s INT’s last week. It stated that on two admittedly poor throws by Hoyer, if Gordon would have done his job and switched from WR to DB, the passes likely would not have been picked. Instead, Gordon stood there like trying to break up an interception and help his QB was beneath him. Food for thought…

  7. ohand16…

    You do remember a few weeks back that Buffalo walked out of Detroit (8-4) with a win? Denver (8-3), Green Bay (8-3), New England (9-2) and Oakland (1-10) are all beatable on any given Sunday… Denver lost to the (4-7) St. Louis team…
    Green Bay lost to the (4-7) New Orleans team… New England lost to the (6-5) Miami team… No team is unbeatable.

  8. We will run for 200 and Gordon will go for 200, yards that is… Spanked you guys with Weeden last year… Thanks for Pettine and the picks too. Best way to beat a good pass rush is to run quick hitters in the run game. Everybody knows that…

  9. It should be a fairly even game. The Bills and Browns both have semi-competent QBs, a good #1 WR and good (though very different) defensive front sevens. The Bills should be able to stuff the run well enough that the Browns will be forced to pass. If Buffalo doesn’t get consistent pressure that spells trouble because Gordon > Gilmore.

  10. Buffalo is a joke? Hmmm………. The river that runs through our city has never caught on fire. The river that runs through Cleveland did catch on fire, and it took 5 fire companies to put it out. Cleveland is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there…..

  11. You beat us with Weeden …. And Pettine was the coordinator. Sooooo
    This is what I meant in my previous comment. Suddenly Browns fans think they are on top of the world. No matter what has happened in Buffalo Bills history at least we got there.. Rather be a bunch of almosts… Instead of a bunch of never was. Your greatest living QB is a drug addled mess. Ours is a Hall of farmer who just slapped around Cancer now go throw a match in the river and enjoy your smoglight bonfire

  12. 21-3 31-10 Hmm those are all make or brake games for the bills! Wait what?! Sorry those or the scores Cleveland had when they walked into a game and where underdogs. Billswillnevermove Buffoolos lost to KC in a game much like this one. Similar score to Cle wins 17-13. Take it to the bank!

  13. Ohand…you do realize the Browns picked the worst two players in the first round of the draft this year right?

    Guess you’re gonna need the extra late first rounder next year pal!

  14. I usually root for the Bills, unless they play the Browns. Tomorrow should be a good game between 2 very similar teams.

    I’m still waiting to see if Shanahan can figure out what to do with someone like Gordon. I’m also anxious to see if TE Cameron is back or not.

    I would feel much better with the Brian Hoyer who started the season, over the “deer in the headlights” Hoyer of the last couple weeks.

    What concerns me the most about the Browns is the D-line. The Browns are like what, 30th against the run? Fred Jackson could have a very big day.

    Either way, good luck to both teams and their fans. May the best team win.

  15. It’s judgement day. Bills season will be over in about 9 and 1/2 hours. There’s always the draft to look forward to – no wait there isn’t !thanks Buffalo.

  16. Lol, it makes me chuckle when a Cleveland fan calls ANY team a joke, let alone the Bills!! You have not earned that right and NEVER will with your team’s history…TRUST ME ( in my idiot Dante Whitner voice). Bills win 23-13.

  17. Aren’t these like the top two teams who haven’t made a playoff appearance years wise? Or close to it… Look at all the smack talk from perennial losers… Get a grip

  18. I agree 2 young teams on the rise. Home field will be big today and the Bills will win. Cleveland can take solace in having our pick next yr. try not to waste it on an average at best corner or a backup QB who brings waay too much attention to himself.

  19. Respect to the Bills and their fans. I root against them only when the Browns play them. The Bills will play hard and keep the score low. I predict the final score of Browns 13 Bills 10.

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