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Scouting Report: Browns at Bills

Top 3 Individual Matchups

1 – Stephon Gilmore vs. Josh Gordon – Gordon picked up right where he left off since returning from suspension, and is clearly the Browns' top wideout. Gilmore has the physical game to match up with Gordon and throw off Cleveland's timing in the pass game.

2 – Mario Williams vs. Mitchell Schwartz – Williams comes into the game hot with six and a half sacks in his past three games. Schwartz has given up five sacks, four QB hits and 16 quarterback hurries this season.

3 – Seantrel Henderson vs. Paul Kruger – The veteran OLB has been productive for the Browns this season leading the team with eight sacks, but Buffalo's rookie right tackle is settling into his role.

Bills Top 2 Advantages


Photos of Bills pass rushers sacking and pressuring opposing QBs during the 2014 season.

Good advantage – Run game** – The Browns run game might be more productive, but Buffalo's ground attack has a better matchup. Buffalo rediscovered their ground game Monday night rolling up 116 yards and averaging four yards a carry against the league's fourth-ranked run defense. Cleveland is ranked 29th against the run as their opponents choose to run against them more than any other defense in football (46.7%) when it comes to play selection.

Best advantage – Pass rush – Though Cleveland has not surrendered many sacks this season, the Bills come in as the league leaders in that category with 46 on the season. Buffalo has averaged six sacks in their last three games, and pressure has affected Brian Hoyer's completion percentage, which is among the lowest in the league for a starting quarterback (55.9%).

Bills Number 1 Must

Ball security – Both teams have defenses with a penchant for taking the ball away. Buffalo is tied for third in the league in takeaways (22) and Cleveland has 15 takeaways in their last six games, good for most in the league over that span. The team that doesn't hand extra possessions to the opponent might be enough to post the victory.

Scouting Eye

One-two punch

The Browns have largely leaned on a pair of rookies to drive their ground game this season. RBs Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West have been productive thus far this season. Crowell leads all NFL rookies and stands third in the league with seven rushing touchdowns. He stands fourth among rookies with 336 rushing yards, while West is third with 470. Cleveland is coming off one of their better rushing performances of the season after rolling up 162 yards against Atlanta.

Pinning them back

Buffalo's special teams units have been very good this season, but Cleveland is tops in the league when it comes to creating long fields on kickoffs. The Browns have made 13 stops on kickoffs inside the 20-yard line, which is good for second in the NFL. Cleveland leads the league in opponent starting field position on kickoffs this season (19.3-yard line).

Big play QB

Browns starting QB Brian Hoyer has won 10 of his 14 starts for Cleveland and has pulled out some wins in heroic fashion thanks in part to the deep ball. Cleveland relies on their run game to set up play action and when they pass off play action they're not afraid to go deep. The Browns are third in the league in number of plays that have gone for 20 yards or more with 54 this season.

Hoyer averages a league-best 14.04 yards per completion this year. He's tied for second in the league with 46 completions of 20-plus yards. Those big plays have helped him stage four fourth-quarter comebacks this season including last week's 26-24 win over Atlanta.

2nd half blockade

Helping to make those comebacks possible is the success Cleveland has had in keeping points to a minimum in the second half of games. Through their first 11 games the Browns have allowed just 87 points in the second half, good for third fewest in the league. That averages out to just over a touchdown allowed in the second half (7.9 ppg).

Third down struggles

The Browns offense has one area where they'd like to improve and that's on third down. Ranking next to last in the league in conversion percentage Cleveland is making good on just over 32 percent of their third down opportunities. The task could be even tougher facing the number one third down defense in the league in the Bills. Buffalo is allowing a conversion rate of just 34 percent.

Gordon on the go

Last year's NFL receiving yardage leader Josh Gordon has returned from suspension for the Browns. Cleveland's top receiving weapon appeared in his first game last week and picked up right where he left off last season. Gordon had eight catches for 120 yards to lead the team. Last season against the Bills he put up 86 yards and a touchdown.

Buffalo Chips

Quote of the Week

"You hope to build off it. It was a challenging week and we came together, the city came together and we hope to ride a little of momentum for sure. We haven't played at home in a while and we're looking forward to it. Looking forward to a packed house and a real homefield advantage."

-C Eric Wood

Stat of the Week

The Browns are second in the league in rushing touchdowns this season with 14 in 11 games. Buffalo's defense has allowed just five rushing touchdowns this season, good for second fewest in the NFL.

Milestones in reach

Corey Graham needs two pass breakups to tie a career high with 12 in a season.

Sammy Watkins needs five receptions to set the record for receptions by a Bills rookie (52, Joe Cribbs).

Mario Williams needs 1.5 sacks to reach 90 for his career.

Final Note

If Jerry Hughes records a sack, the Bills will become the first team since the 49ers in 1996-97 to have three or more players with 10 or more sacks in consecutive seasons.

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