Thursday, October 3, 2013

Four Point Stance: Bills at Browns


Even after an impressive defensive performance and a solid ground game against the defending champs, the Buffalo Bills are still dealing with the sharp side of a double-edged victory.

The team's 203 rushing yards against the Ravens didn't come without a price, as Buffalo is now dealing with injuries to both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. With a sprained knee and sprained ankle, respectively, Jackson and Spiller are both question marks for the Bills' short turnaround Thursday night in Cleveland, but both have stated this week they want nothing more than to be in the lineup.

The defensive secondary is hoping the run game can overcome adversity just as it has. The Bills' squad put up big numbers against veteran Joe Flacco last week despite some notable absences, and it now faces a 27-year-old quarterback with little game experience in Brian Hoyer.

Hoyer has pulled the Cleveland crew back to .500 with back-to-back wins, tossing five touchdowns in those two games and outplaying a pretty legit Bengals squad along the way. The Browns' offense will need him to keep that game elevated, as its ground game has certainly not improved since sending Trent Richardson packing.


Bad time to be beat up. While Tashard Choice is sure to see his fair share of time Thursday night to keep the pressure off the ailing starters, Cleveland's run defense is not a squad you want to face halfheartedly. The line touts the league's fourth-best run defense overall and leads the league in average yards allowed per rush (2.9). This is a group that held both Adrian Peterson and a banged up Ravens rushing attack to under 100 yards, and it kept the Bengals backs under 65 combined. With two of the best outside linebackers in the league against the run, the time to spread out the running game and create some gaps may be now.

The legend of Kiko. What better for a rising star with a interception streak than a inexperienced quarterback who loves to throw? Buffalo's rookie middle linebacker was all the talk after his two-interception day against Flacco, and he currently leads the league in interceptions with four. Heck, he's even got his own hashtag on Twitter. According to the AP, Alonzo is the first rookie linebacker in 33 years to tally an interception in three consecutive games. Hoyer threw three in his first appearance this year, though he avoided any in the team's win against Cincinnati. Even if Alonzo fails to pick off Hoyer, he's sure to be heavily involved in the schematic, as he's currently leading Buffalo in tackles.

Rookie on the road. The Bills are losers of five straight away from the Ralph dating back to last season, which puts a lot of pressure on E.J. Manuel to improve off of his eight-sack loss at MetLife less than two weeks ago. The Browns held fellow AFC East'er Ryan Tannehill to 272 yards and a touchdown on opening day in Cleveland despite the loss, forcing an interception and sacking to second-year back four times. The same can be said for Andy Dalton in his loss last week, who completed only 55 percent of his passes, was sacked twice and threw a pick in their loss.

Tall order. The Ravens utilized their size match-ups when they weren't throwing interceptions last week, picking on the Bills shorter defensive backs and hitting the 6-foot, 5-inch Marlon Brown for a touchdown. Expect the same thing from the Hoyer and the Browns passing game, though the size difference is much more widespread. Three of the team's top three receivers — Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Jordan Cameron — are over six feet tall. The tight end Cameron already has five TDs and will likely be up against the 5-foot, 11-inch Da'Norris Searcy, who tallied six tackles and four pass breakups last week.

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Fred: 'I'm definitely playing', C.J.: 'If I can, I can'

Regardless of percentage, Spiller ready to play

Bills' offense attempts most run plays since 1996

Marrone has 'told you so' moment re: Alonzo

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