Friday, December 16, 2016

Browns Preview 12.16.16: Cleveland Browns @ Buffalo Bills

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

The 0-13 Cleveland Browns travel to Buffalo to take on the 6-7 Bills. Both teams lost last week to AFC North opponents. The Browns lost 23-10 against the Bengals, which was Robert Griffin III first game back since week one of the season. And the Bills lost 27-20 against the Steelers, where Le'Veon Bell ran for 236 yards and three touchdowns.

Browns Offense vs Bills Defense

The Browns should run the ball a ton this week and should limit the deep shots down field. Isaiah Crowell ran for 113 yards last week on only 10 carries. The Browns should give Crowell more carries and continue to run the read option with Griffin. Using the read-option opened up the inside run game for Crowell and it also kept the defense honest while trying to get into the backfield. The Browns should run more this week because of the weather for this game. The temps will be cold, but per Buffalo will be expecting 20mph winds Sunday.

Griffin passing the ball is going to be interesting. He needs to take what the defense gives him. So not throwing the ball into double coverage down field just to take shots, but to use Gary Barnidge and the running backs to keep the offense from being in third and long. This doesn't mean Griffin shouldn't target Corey Coleman or Terrelle Pyror, but he should pick his spots then to target them.

Lastly, Griffin needs to use his legs this game, whether in the read-option (like stated above) or scrambling when plays break down. Its important for the Browns to limit the third and long situations and that falls on the hands of Griffin. i.e. 2nd and 8 and Griffin scrambles for four yards, setting up 3rd and 4.

Browns Defense vs Bills Offense

The Bills are the number one rushing team in the league and the Browns are 31st in stopping the run so it could set up a long day for the Browns defense. The only good thing about it is that the Bills are 31st in passing offense so it makes them one-dimensional. The Bills running game is headlined by LeSean McCoy who is 24 yards away from 1000 for the season. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is also a threat in the running game. Taylor has 471 rushing yards and is averaging 6.2 yards/carry.  So the Browns will need to assign someone to be a "spy" for Taylor.

The Bills have some weapons in the passing game, including running back LeSean McCoy who is second on the team in catches. Receiver Robert Woods and tight end Charles Clay are the other weapons Taylor likes to use at times. Also former first round pick Sammy Watkins is finally healthy so his production should increase.

Five Guys to Watch

Robert Griffin III: RGIII in his second game back is probably the number one guy to watch this week. Hopefully he learns from his mistakes and just takes what the Bills give him. And lets hope he can get into some type of rhythm and not force deep shots down field constantly.

Isaiah Crowell: Since the weather is going to be terrible for this game Crowell should get more than 10 carries this week. The Browns will need to rely on a run heavy game plan which should feature Crowell.

Jonathan Cooper: Cooper started his first game for the Browns, which was also his first start since November of last year. He played really well and helped set up holes for Crowell last week. If Cooper continues to play well the Browns might have found a starting right guard going forward.

Christian Kirksey: Kirksey will be important in both the run game and the passing game. At times he should be assigned to "spy" on quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and he will be in the middle of a lot of plays considering the amount of times the Bills run the ball.

Danny Shelton: Shelton will set the tone for the run defense this week. If he can't do his job well then its going to be a long game for the Browns this week.

Injury Report
Weather Report
Betting Line:  Buffalo -10

Prediction:  27-20 Bills

I don't think the Browns will play terrible this week but the young team will fall short once again. This seems like one of those games where RGIII tries again to do too much and ends up costing the Browns. But this game should set up something positive for the Christmas Eve game against the Chargers which the Browns have a really good chance of pulling out a victory.

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