Browns-Bills: It's Gameday!

[START MORA SEQUENCE] Playoffs? Playoffs?!? Starting on Monday night, the Browns take the field to battle for their jobs and respectability. Playoffs? [END MORA]

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 ET

GAMEDATE: 11/17/08

SURFACE: AstroPlay

TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya)

SERIES: 14th regular-season meeting. The Browns lead the series, 8-5. The Browns won their only playoff game against the Bills. The Browns last won in Buffalo in 1986, but they have played in Ralph Wilson Stadium only once since then.

PREDICTION: Bills 27-23

KEYS TO THE GAME: QB Brady Quinn's mobility has provided an element the Browns' offense was lacking. And considering the Bills have only 14 sacks and will be without top pass rusher DE Aaron Schobel, Quinn will have ample time when he drops back. That should make offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski feel more comfortable to open up the passing game after just six of Quinn's 23 completions went to his wideouts in his first start. ... The Bills' freefalling offense couldn't run into a better opponent. The Browns have given up 429 and 564 total yards in their past two games, the franchise's most in back-to-back contests since 1950. Bills QB Trent Edwards will no doubt target CB Brandon McDonald, who has been getting picked on repeatedly, or Travis Daniels if the team makes a switch it's contemplating. But Buffalo's problems originate from the highly disappointing ground game that must produce against a Browns defense allowing 4.7 yards per carry.

KEY INJURIES: NT Shaun Rogers (stinger) will play but could be limited; LG Eric Steinbach (torn oblique) hopes to return this week but is uncertain. Bills: WR Josh Reed (ankle) is uncertain; Schobel (foot) is doubtful; SS Donte Whitner (shoulder) is day-to-day.

FAST FACTS: The Browns have lost two consecutive games after leading by at least 13 points in the second half. ... Edwards has completed at least 60 percent of his passes in eight of nine games.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Browns:

--NT Shaun Rogers returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday. He missed practice Wednesday with a neck injury.

--DE Corey Williams was limited in practice with a shoulder injury.

--TE Darnell Dinkins was limited with a hamstring injury.

--LG Eric Steinbach was limited with an oblique tear.

--FB Lawrence Vickers has a high ankle sprain and did not practice.

Bills:

--WR James Hardy worked on a limited basis Thursday due to a hip flexor problem. But he's expected to be fine for Monday's game.

--OG Brad Butler, who has missed three games with a knee sprain, practiced fully again Thursday and should be good to go Monday against Cleveland.

--SS Donte Whitner, who is nursing a separated shoulder, practiced again on a limited basis Thursday. He's hopeful of playing Monday against Cleveland, even if it's a limited role, but a decision likely won't come until game time.

--TE Robert Royal was added to the injury report Thursday after tweaking an ankle in practice Wednesday. He sat out practice but should be fine for the game.

--RB Marshawn Lynch has passed the 1,500-yard career rushing mark faster than any Bill in history, doing so in 19 games. Willis McGahee had the record of 20 games with Joe Cribbs third with 21.

--QB Trent Edwards is 155 yards shy of 2,000 for the season. With seven turnovers in his past three games, Edwards is spending extra time this week on his mechanics, working on his passing and footwork.

--WR Lee Evans needs two touchdown catches to tie Bob Chandler (34) for fourth on the Bills' career list. He had four catches for 36 yards in last December's 8-0 loss at Cleveland in the snow.

--WR Roscoe Parrish will play in his 50th career NFL game on Monday when the Bills play host to Cleveland. He's getting more work with Josh Reed (ankle) still sidelined.

--DE Ryan Denney needs 1.5 sacks to reach 20 for his career. He has been a career backup but will start his fifth consecutive Monday in place of an injured Aaron Schobel.

INSIDE THE CAMPS

Browns:

Travis Daniels, who has only one tackle all season, is competing with Brandon McDonald with the first defense in practice and will likely start against the Bills Monday night.

Coach Romeo Crennel said he will pick the starter after practice Saturday. McDonald is still troubled about the way he played against the Ravens and Broncos.

Crennel is convinced starting Daniels will take some pressure off McDonald, the 2007 fifth-round draft choice from Memphis. Crennel is trying to balance that goal with making sure McDonald's confidence is not shattered beyond repair.

"He does have good ability," Crennel said. "He has been competing. He competed in the (Denver) game. A couple choices weren't very good choices.

"These guys are all competitive; they have been playing the game for a long time. They understand that there are good plays and bad plays and you have to work through it. You go back to your fundamentals, your basics and get to the point where you have confidence again."

McDonald will likely be the nickel back if he does not start. He leads the Browns with 13 pass breakups. He was playing well until he was burned for a 47-yard touchdown pass by Mark Clayton of the Ravens on Nov. 2. Then against the Broncos, he tried to break up a pass to Eddie Royal and missed. The play went for 93 yards and a touchdown. He gave up the winning touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall when he slipped.

McDonald said he got the news about Daniels on Wednesday morning.

"(Crennel) made the decision to do what he did and I support it. I'm not going to be angry about it," McDonald said. "I love T. Daniels. I love what he brings to the game. I know he can come and help us. I'm not aggravated about it, but I am aggravated at myself for how I've been playing the last couple weeks."

The Browns acquired Daniels from the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 20 for a seventh-round draft pick in 2007. The Dolphins drafted him in the fourth round in 2005. He played every game the last three years and made 25 starts. Some of his games were against the Bills and their star receiver, Lee Evans.

Daniels said he is ready to jump back into the starting lineup after practicing against Donte Stallworth and Braylon Edwards. He expects the Bills to go after him.

"I think they would do something like that, but at the same time, I played against these guys before," Daniels said. "It's not my first time seeing Lee Evans, the Buffalo Bills or playing in Buffalo. They know me pretty well and if they want to come over there, then that's just what they do."

Bills:

Quarterback Trent Edwards and the Bills struggling offense will look to snap out of a three-game funk against the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football and are quietly thanking the NFL schedule maker.

After a three-week gauntlet of facing AFC East teams (Dolphins, Jets, Patriots) and losing all three games, Buffalo meets a worse-struggling opponent. After winning 10 games a year ago, Cleveland is 3-6 and has made a quarterback change to Brady Quinn.

Edwards would like nothing better than to outperform Quinn, his 2007 draft class peer picked in the first round (he went in the third) on a national stage. But that's not what's on his mind. Getting a running game started is.

The Bills rank 28th in rushing with Marshawn Lynch not posting a 100-yard game yet. That inability to keep teams from teeing off on the quarterback has led to a slew of errors by Edwards: five interceptions, two lost fumbles in the last three games. The Bills have 13 turnovers in their last four games overall.

In last Sunday's loss to New England, Buffalo had 58 yards offense after halftime.

"It's tough," Edward said of trying to have a balanced attack when a team can't run effectively. "If you can't run, they're not going to bite on the naked fake. They're not going to put everyone in the box and they're going to drop into coverage because they know they can stop the run without bringing their safeties down.

"I don't know if 'handicap' is the word, but, I mean, we still have pass plays that can break those defenses that drop into coverage. Still, we want to run that balanced attack."

The Bills have done some good things offensively, like posting the fifth-best yards-per-pass-attempt average at 7.81 and scoring touchdowns 43.8 percent of the time in the red zone, which is ninth best in the league. The team has won time of possession in six of its nine games.

But overall, there has been a general inability to dictate play against what appeared to be much-better prepared teams. For a fifth consecutive game, the Bills will face a defense that plays a 3-4 scheme. By now, one would think they'd have it figured out.

Furthermore, Cleveland ranks 27th overall in defense, 26th in stopping the run. A key matchup is how well new Bills starting center Duke Preston handles nose tackle Shaun Rogers. Preston is coming off sub-par efforts against studs Jason Ferguson, Kris Jenkins and Vince Wilfork.

"That's a heck of a lot of production out of your nose guard and that is something we have really put in the game plan this week; trying to make sure we just keep him under control as much as we can and keep him from being a disturbing factor," said Preston, who will need lots of help handling Rogers.

"I know that is his job and that is what they pay him to do, but we have to kind of neutralize him a little bit."



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