Top 3 Individual Matchups
1. Lee Evans vs. Brandon McDonald – McDonald talks a lot of trash in light of how many times he's been beaten for big plays and touchdowns this season. Evans is a big time mismatch for McDonald, who has been rumored to be in danger of losing his starting job to Travis Daniels. It wouldn't be shocking if Cleveland matched LCB Eric Wright on Evans the whole game as a strategy.
- Duke Preston vs. Shaun Rogers – For the fifth straight week Preston will have to face a monstrous and dominant 3-4 nose tackle in Rogers. The two-time Pro Bowl DT is a load and more athletic than advertised. Preston will need help with this interior penetrator.
- Donte Whitner vs. Kellen Winslow – Winslow will be a go-to target for Brady Quinn who will throw to his backs and tight ends for high percentage completions. Whitner if he's healthy enough to go has the speed to stay with Winslow, but will his separated shoulder keep him from being physical enough to muscle Winslow around?
Top 2 Bills advantages
Good Advantage – Red zone defense – Buffalo's red zone defense is pretty stout. Ranked eighth in the league the Bills' defensive front buckles down inside their own 20 allowing touchdowns less than 44 percent of the time. Cleveland's defense meanwhile is near the bottom of the league (29th) in red zone defense surrendering touchdowns better than 60 percent of the time.
Best Advantage – Third down defense – The Bills ability to stop teams on third down has slipped a bit in recent weeks (ranked 14th), but is still far better than that of the Browns (29th). And when you consider Cleveland's struggles in converting third downs on offense (24th in NFL) Buffalo should be able to keep the Browns from sustaining long drives.
Bills number one must
Time of possession – The Bills have had their problems maintaining possession due mainly to turnovers and to an ineffective ground game. It has led to far fewer scoring opportunities and a worn out defense come the fourth quarter. Buffalo's offense has to take care of the football and run effectively enough to control the clock and keep time of possession in Buffalo's favor.
Cleveland is one of only nine teams with a lower time of possession average this season than Buffalo. The Bills are 13-4 under Dick Jauron when they win time of possession.
Reduced plan for Quinn? Brady Quinn on a short week admittedly ran a pared down game plan in his first NFL start last Thursday and fared well finishing with a passer rating of 104.3. But odds are that Quinn will again be given a watered down game plan in his first road start in light of the hostile environment expected at Ralph Wilson Stadium Monday night.
Last week the offensive staff had a lot of high percentage throws in the game plan to help Quinn keep the chains moving. He rarely looked deep, much less threw there against the Broncos. However, against a Bills defense that has struggled to develop a pass rush more shots down the field are possible. But in all likelihood the plan will be simple as Quinn is still getting settled into the offense.
The one added dimension he brings to the Browns is his athleticism as he can lengthen plays with his legs, something Derek Anderson was not known to do much at all.
More prime beef: For the fifth straight week Buffalo's offensive line will face a disruptive inside presence in Shaun Rogers. The nose tackle is third on the team in tackles and leads the team in tackles for loss (6), sacks (4.5) and quarterback pressures (12). He also has a blocked field goal. But in terms of pocket pressure Rogers might be the best Buffalo has seen on the interior this season.
Run down : Despite Rogers' interior presence, however, the Browns have been unable to stop the run this season. Ranked 27th in the league and allowing better than 145 yards on the ground, Cleveland has struggled to get off the field. Only five teams in the league have allowed more first downs rushing than the Browns (72), which is part of the reason why Cleveland is allowing opponents to convert on third down almost 44 percent of the time.
Back end liability: The Browns are ranked 21st against the pass, which isn't awful, but the team's weak link looks to be Brandon McDonald. Facing a lot of the opponents' top receivers, McDonald in a lot of cases has been overmatched. His last outing against Denver's Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal is the latest example.
Royal turned him inside out beating him on plays of 16 yards, 22 yards and a 93-yard touchdown. McDonald also gave up plays of 34 yards and 11 yards to Marshall including the game-winning touchdown reception.
Corralling Cribbs: Buffalo's special teams coverage units have been improving with each passing week and they get another test this week in Josh Cribbs. Cribbs is ranked second in the league in kick return average behind New England's Ellis Hobbs, who the Bill held in check last week. Cribbs is providing the Browns with the best average drive start in football at just beyond the 30-yard line (30.3).
Cribbs has also been a monster on cover teams for Cleveland leading that unit with 14 tackles on the season. The Browns rank an impressive third in the league in kick coverage and seventh in punt coverage.
The two sides of pressure: The Browns have done exceptionally well protecting their quarterbacks this season. Cleveland's men up front have allowed just 11 sacks. Only four other teams in the league have surrendered fewer.
But on the flip side Cleveland's defensive front is not generating much pressure. The Browns have the same number of sacks as Buffalo's struggling front, 14 and the Bills have been without their top pass rusher in Aaron Schobel for the past month. The nose tackles for both teams (Rogers, Stroud) lead their respective teams in sacks.
Quote of the week
"Last year was very frustrating. We need to get these guys from last year. We owe them and they took our chance of going to a playoff game last year and we still have that taste in our mouth."
--Trent Edwards – on if last season's loss to Cleveland still bothers him
Stat of the weekThe Bills have a 1-7 record on Nov. 17 including a 17-7 loss to Cleveland back in 1986.
Milestones in reach
Lee Evans is 73 receiving yards from 4,500 in his career. He's also two touchdown receptions from tying Bob Chandler for fourth all-time in franchise history.
Robert Royal (25) needs one reception to set a single-season career high.
Rian Lindell needs two consecutive extra points to tie Steve Christie's franchise record (172).