3 Key Bills/Browns Matchups

The Buffalo Bills have the opportunity to move to 7-5 on Sunday. Standing in their way is the 7-4 Cleveland Browns. On paper, it's a pretty even matchups. To keep their playoff hopes alive, here are three matchups that the Bills need to win in Week 13.

The Buffalo Bills find themselves in a must-win game on Sunday. Get used to that term as Buffalo’s back is against the wall heading into the home stretch of the season. The Bills sit at 6-5 and need to knock off the 7-4 Browns to stay in the playoff picture. The win would move the Bills to 4-5 in the conference. Here are three matchups the Bills must win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Matchup of the Week: Bills Offensive Line vs. Browns Defense

There’s no doubt that Mike Pettine is going to blitz Buffalo’s offense early and often tomorrow. Bills fans expect it, one year after Pettine served as Buffalo’s defensive coordinator. Pettine will send linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties at the Bills and see if they can pick up the blitzes or get the ball out quickly. Kyle Orton, Buffalo’s starting quarterback, isn’t mobile so he could be in for a long day if the offensive line doesn’t do its job.

Buffalo’s line consists of Cordy Glenn, Kraig Urbik, Eric Wood, Erik Pears and Seantrel Henderson. Glenn is the only truly consistent member of the group. Using Pro Football Focus, Glenn is 15th among all tackles, and 12th among all left tackles. Henderson, a seventh round pick, is 75th among 77 offensive tackles. The guard play is even worse. Urbik is Buffalo’s best option at left guard, but he’s 47th among all guards and Pears ranks 80th, dead last in the NFL. Wood comes in at 34th among all centers. It’s a group that will be put to the test tomorrow. If Buffalo wants to be able to move the ball the front five will have to hold up. Bills fans can only hope that the linemen recognize blitzes from their time practicing against Pettine last season. Henderson is the only new addition to the line so this is a possibility.

Josh Gordon vs. Stephon Gilmore/Corey Graham

Buffalo’s top two cornerbacks will have their hands full against one of the best wide receivers in the league. Gordon returned from suspension last week and caught eight passes for 120 yards. Brian Hoyer targeted Gordon 16 times against the Atlanta Falcons so he’s clearly comfortable trying to force passes to his top receiver. It’s important that the cornerbacks try to take advantage of any tight throws that Hoyer attempts to make.  Buffalo is also likely to send safety help to Gordon’s side of the field. The wide receiver is capable of taking over a game, so it’s important for the Bills to keep him in check. Forcing the Browns to beat them on the ground or with Andrew Hawkins, a capable No. 2 receiver, is key for Buffalo’s defensive game plan.

Marcell Dareus vs. Nick McDonald

Nick McDonald has been Cleveland’s starting center since Week 8. He had to replace Alex Mack and so far the results aren’t encouraging. McDonald is PFF’s lowest ranked center at -20.1. Considering the fact that he’s only played five games, this is not good. This week, his job is to block Marcell Dareus. Good luck with that.

Dareus is having the best season of his career. The defensive tackle has 37 total tackles, 10 sacks and one forced fumble this season. He also has three quarterback hits and 16 quarterback hurries. The massive defensive tackle is having plenty of success getting to the quarterback, but he’s been just as successful against the run. Dareus is PFF’s fourth best DT/NT against the run and has 26 stops on the season, the most amongst all of his peers. This matchup may be the biggest mismatch in favor of Buffalo, so it’s important that Dareus continue his dominating play against McDonald. If he does, the Bills certainly have a chance to move to 7-5.

 


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