Top 3 Individual Matchups
1. Aaron Schobel vs. Joe Thomas – Regarded as one of the top five left tackles in football Thomas will be the stiffest challenges Schobel has faced this season. Thomas is rarely given pass protection help so this will be a true one-on-one battle worth watching.
2. Geoff Hangartner vs. Shaun Rogers – The Browns behemoth nose tackle was effective in stuffing Buffalo's run game last season in the Monday night matchup, at least for the first half before wearing down. While the no huddle has had its drawbacks if Hangartner and Trent Edwards can keep things moving at a good clip, Rogers could be worn out sooner rather than later.
3. Lee Evans vs. Eric Wright – The Bills wideout should have some opportunities against the good-sized corner. Wright makes plays, but can be caught gambling too much at times. That could translate into a few big plays for Buffalo's deep threat wideout.
Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage – pass rush – Buffalo has had some success getting pressure on the passer ranking 11th in the league in sacks per pass play. Coming off a six-sack performance last week the Bills could have even better success at home against the Browns who ranked 27th in the league in sacks allowed per pass play.
Best advantage – run game – One of the few parts of Buffalo's offense that has been relatively consistent, the Bills rushing attack should be leaned on all the more in light of the pass game struggles. Buffalo ranks seventh in the league in yards per carry average and Cleveland is a disappointing 31st against the run. The two-back tandem of Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson should have success.
Bills Number One Must
Convert third downs – Buffalo is just 3-for-25 on third down conversions on their current two-game losing streak. That number has to improve significantly against the Browns if the offense is to generate enough scoring opportunities to get points on the board and give their defense a rest here and there through the course of the game. Cleveland ranks 18th in the league in third down defense.
Back to D.A.
After two and a half games of lackluster play from Brady Quinn, Browns head coach Eric Mangini yanked him and inserted veteran Derek Anderson at quarterback. The former Pro Bowl signal caller wasn't all that impressive in his relief performance against Baltimore throwing three interceptions, but did play much better against the Bengals in his first start this season. Anderson threw for 269 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score as he helped Cleveland erase an early 14-0 deficit to take a 20-14 lead before losing in overtime.
Budding chemistry?One of Anderson's favorite targets last week was rookie Mohammed Massaquoi. The long and lanky receiver pulled in eight passes for 148 yards, which was the most by a Browns rookie in 15 seasons. Massaquoi is considered by many to be the team's top receiving option now that Braylon Edwards has been traded to the Jets.
Jerome spells JamalThe Browns are breathing a little bit easier even though they may again not have veteran back Jamal Lewis in their lineup again this week. Nursing a hamstring injury Lewis has been limited in practice this week and is questionable, but his understudy more than filled the bill last Sunday.
Jerome Harrison rushed for 121 yards on 29 carries to bring some balance to Cleveland's offense. Lewis has averaged 99 yards rushing per game in his career against Buffalo.
Special teams excellingBrowns Pro Bowl returner Josh Cribbs is a well respected weapon across the league, but this season he's not alone as Cleveland's special teams units have been productive through the first quarter of the season. Last Sunday may have been their best all around performance.
Cribbs had three long returns in the game, a 58-yard kick return and punt returns of 39 and 50 yards that led to 10 points for the Browns.
Cleveland's special teams also had a forced fumble on kick coverage that they recovered and led to a field goal, blocked a 23-yard field goal and an extra point.
Shaun Rogers blocked both kicks and now has 13 career blocked field goals and two blocked PATs.
New England head coach Bill Belichick would often use wide receiver Troy Brown as a defensive back for his Patriot teams, and now his former assistant Eric Mangini is using one of his veteran receivers in similar fashion. Receiver Mike Furrey got some snaps at safety for the Browns last week registering a pass breakup, while also adding four catches for 37 yards on offense.
Furrey actually came into the league as a safety last playing on that side of the ball with the Rams in 2005.
'D' tightening up
Cleveland's defensive rankings certainly aren't anything to be proud of. Ranking last in the league in total defense and 31st in run defense and points allowed, the Browns look like an unimpressive group on paper. But last week their defense tightened up considerably.
They held the Bengals without a first down on eight straight possessions covering the second and third quarters of the game limiting Cincinnati to just 21 yards in the second quarter and six in the third. It allowed Cleveland's offense to overcome an early 14-0 deficit, which included a Bengals defensive TD, to take a 20-14 lead into the fourth quarter.
Safety in numbersLast year Cleveland's 3-4 defense dropped seven and eight players into coverage a good deal of the time and it stymied Buffalo's passing game. This season however, under Mangini, the Browns are creating more pass pressure by blitzing safeties Brodney Pool and Abram Elam.
Elam, a former Jet, has been a Bills killer over the years. Just last season he had a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Jets a 13-7 first half lead that proved critical in a 26-17 victory for New York.
Quote of the Week"I looked at 26 plays (from the Miami game) with the entire defense and there was a mistake made on every play. They did not do that in practice. For whatever reason, they didn't fit it and didn't get it done like we wanted to get it done and so I'm not going to stand there and say, 'Well that's okay fellas, we're going to put the same guys on the field and do the same thing again.' Bull crap. We're going to get it right."
--Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell
Stat of the weekTerrell Owens averages 95.3 receiving yards per game against the Browns and looks for his third consecutive game with a touchdown reception against Cleveland.
Milestones in reachLee Evans (33) needs one touchdown reception to tie Bob Chandler (34) for fourth on the team's all-time receiving touchdowns list.
Terrell Owens (142) needs one touchdown to take sole possession of fourth place on the NFL's all-time overall touchdowns list.
Josh Reed (295) needs two receptions to pass Elbert Dubenion (296) for sixth on the team's all-time receptions list.
With a victory over the Browns the Bills will win their 350th game in franchise history.