Coming off back to back wins the Cleveland Browns hit Primetime for tonight Thursday night matchup, Browns Vs. Bills. Today we start with “the big uglies,” offensive lines versus the defensive front 7s. Tomorrow we will follow up with the offensive playmakers and their defenders.
Cleveland Offensive Line versus Buffalo Front 7
Browns Starting Line from Left to Right: Joe Thomas, John Greco, Alex Mack, Oniel Cousins, Mitchell Swartz
Bills Front 7 (4-3 Defense): DE Mario Williams, DTs Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, DE Corbin Bryant, LBs Nigel Bradham, Kiko Alonso and Manny Lawsom
The Browns offensive line has improved, according to head coach Rob Chudzinksi they were great last week, but still have their struggles. Shaun Lauvao may return this week but nothing is guaranteed as ankles can flare up at anytime. Brian Hoyer’s quick release and anticipation and Willis McGahee’s running has been helpful the last two weeks. Stopping the Bills front 4 will be a challenge similar to last week with the Bengals.
The Bills front 4 has names that jump out to you with both Williams and Dareus. So far their numbers haven’t been great but they, much like the Browns, have stayed in games because of their defense. The rookie ILB Alonso has been an impact player leading the team in both tackles and interceptions. He will have his hands fun guarding Jordan Cameron, though he could get some help from the tall/lean Lawson. Expect the Bills to have watched film on Hoyer and to get their hands up quickly if they don’t beat their man right away on their blitzes. Tipped balls are called 50/50 balls but based on the way the teams are looking they are more likely intercepted by the defense.
Advantage: Bills - While the Browns have improved in this area they don’t have the power up front to move K. Williams and Dareus off the ball, especially in the run game. M. Williams had a huge game against the Panthers, with 4.5 sacks, but don’t expect Hoyer to hold the ball long, but quick release may lead to more tipped balls or INTs with crafty players like Alonso.
Bills Offensive Line versus Cleveland Front 7
Bengals Starting Line from Left to Right: Cordy Glenn, Colin Brown, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik and Erik Pears
Cleveland Front 7 (3-4 Defense): DE Desmond Bryant, NT Phil Taylor, DE Ahtyba Rubin, OLB Paul Kruger, ILBs D’Qwell Jackson and Craig Robertson and OLB Barkevious Mingo
The Bills have the 2nd most rushing yards in the league. They use their massive offensive line, all over 300 pounds to wear down the defensive front 7. With their 2 top running backs hurt, but most likely to play, the Bills will continue to try to play this way. Their passing offense has been 4th worst in the NFL in yardage but has not had to throw to win many games. With both teams limited in the passing game expect the Bills, unlike the Browns first 4 opponents to not go away from the run, unless turnovers or big plays give the Browns a big lead.
The Browns have hung their hats on their defensive front 7 over the first 4 weeks. The Bills might be the first team that doesn’t give up on the run as quickly. Without Sheard or Groves the defense could get worn down. Last week all 4 linebackers played every snap of the game. Expect the Browns to load up the box, “sugaring” the A gaps to keep the run game contained. This will put alot of pressure on the defensive backs of the Browns but with expected rain tonight the field may be sloppy and little passing attempted anyways, which could be a problem for the Browns offense but work out well for their defense.
Advantage: Browns - The Browns, with Ray Horton’s creative defense, have shown toughness throughout the season. With the front 7 causing pressure and bottling up the run it will be interesting how the Billss choose to attack the team. Do they try to stay run focused or do they put the ball in rookie EJ Manual’s hands? Expect the trench wars to be one by both defenses, how the offenses respond will be interesting.
So far the match-up is a tie, with the Browns advantage slightly higher. Tomorrow we will break down the offensive weapons and their defenders.
Browns fans did I overrate the home team’s defense? Bills fans how did I underrate your team? Let me know!