Buffalo Bills (5-4) vs Cleveland Browns (3-6)
Monday, November 17, 8:30PM EST
Well, as much as we don't we want to talk about it, this is a must-win. If the Bills have ANY desire of making the playoffs this year, this is a game they must win. A home Monday night game is a golden opportunity for the Bills to get back in the win column. Here's how they can do so:
Cut the stupid mistakes out: This involves both sides of the ball. Obviously, this team will never cut out all the mistakes they've made, but they can definitely minimize them. That's what they did earlier in the season, but have struggled to avoid the self-inflicted errors of late. We've seen what seems like a season's worth of turnovers, penalties, missed tackles, missed blocks and coaching blunders over the past 3 weeks. If we can minimize the mistakes, we won't simply give the game away like we've been doing.
Feed off the crowd (and not Dick Jauron): I expect the loudest, drunkest and insane crowd of the year Monday night. There should be an atmosphere very similar to the Cowboys MNF game from last year, though potentially a notch below that level. The team really needs to start feeding off of that and playing the type of inspired, tough and firey brand of football that the crowd will be looking for. If the crowd can do their part like they did last year, I expect good things to happen as a result. I just don't want to see this team come out uninspired, flat and timid like their head coach this week. That's a quick way to take the crowd out of it, that's for sure.
Run the freakin' ball!!!: The Browns are 26th against the rush this season, allowing 4.7 ypc and 145 yards per game. The chance to get the running game going, finally, is there this week. If we again run weak dives up the middle, and refuse to run it consistently, I doubt we will have much success. This is the weak to get back to the basics and really try to grind it out. The weather looks like it'll be a factor as right now my crystal ball (and weather.com) predicts temperatures in the 30's with a good chance of snow/rain. We will HAVE to run it this week, in fact.
Get the ball to Lynch, and do it often: Turk Schonert has done a good job limiting Lynch's touches this year, especially lately. Oh, did I say good job? I meant he's done a horrible job in keeping the ball out of Lynch's hands. We all have seen Lynch get better as the game progresses and he gets more carries. Instead, this year, Schonert seems very hesitant to give him the ball much in the 2nd half of games. Again, Turk, please go back to the basics! Utilize your best offensive player. Give him the ball more, run it more, throw him some screen passes, run him outside for once, try a couple pitches. Heck throw in a halfback pass if you have to. I don't care what you do, but get Lynch the ball more and get it to him in space more. We've all been begging for this. PLEASE!
Stop being so &#$*!% predictable on offense: Again, Turk, get back to the basics and quit trying to be cute. Brian's pointed out your fallacy in putting Trent under center or in the shotgun. Now it's time for you to finally adjust and keep the Defense off-guard. If we still see the run under center and pass from the shotgun ratios we've been seeing, we're going to struggle yet again. Beyond this, it'd be nice to see some play action, roll outs, delayed draws, end arounds, quick pitches, screens, etc. Open up the playbook STB, our season is riding on it!
Get the ball to Lee Evans: Weekly reminder. Evans has only gained 63 yards receiving the past 2 weeks, an obvious correlation to our offensive struggles. We had much greater success on offense earlier in the season when we were going deep to Evans more often. I would like to see us at least attempt to get him the ball downfield more this week. The Browns haven't been much better against the pass this year, allowing 225 ypg. Again, the opportunities will be there, we just have to take advantage of them.
Beat up Brady Quinn: In his first road start, Quinn needs to feel heat from more than just the frenzied crowd. Perry Fewell really needs to ratchet up the blitz this week and try to get after him. I want to see Kawika Mitchell standing over a freshly sacked Brady Quinn at least once this week. There's no reason to allow a young QB in his second start to get comfortable in front of the bright Monday night lights. It's going to also be important to shut down the short passing lanes. Obviously this is something the Bills prefer to allow as we've seen teams carve the D up underneath the past month or so. Last week, Quinn didn't attempt a pass further than 13 yards downfield, or something similar. He has success with the short passing game last week, and I'd hate to see him have success again this week.
Whatever happened to Roscoe?: Since week 1, Roscoe Parrish has a whopping 7 punt returns for just 52 yards. Since returning from his injury 4 games ago, he has 2 returns for 5 yards. Say what?!?! What happened to one of the best punt returners in the game? Actually, not much. It's the defense and return unit that seem to be struggling. The opportunities just haven't been there as the D has had more trouble getting off the field and getting off the field deep in opponent's territory. And when Roscoe does get the rare opportunity, he just isn't get any room to maneuver. Credit the opposition's punting team for keeping it out of his hands, but our return unit really hasn't been giving him the holes we're used to seeing. This is an area where we really need to return to form. Roscoe is such a weapon, especially returning punts, and it's a shame if the defense and special teams can't provide him enough opportunities to showcase his talents.
Don't embarrass yourselves!: This one's for the crowd, but is also for the Bills. We're used to watching them crap the bed on national TV. In fact, I can't even remember the last time the team won a night game. After racking my brain, I think it was in Jacksonville during the 3-13 campaign earlier this decade. UGH! Last year, we were all stunned and in pain after the Cowboys debacle, but that was nothing compared to the whooping the Pats laid on us a few games later. Talk about embarrassing! The Bills have to go out and play tough, smart football this week. Simply put, they need to take care of business for once.
Bonus Dick Jauron related key - Don't you dare get outcoached by Romeo freakin' Crennel: This is one of those weeks where our team should have the coaching advantage. Therefore, I for one, do not want to see him outcoached...again. Get your red flag ready Dicky! Keep it in your hand the whole game if you have to. It's not like you do much else during the game!
Big game ladies and gentlemen. I hope to see a jacked up, crazy, electric and effective home crowd come Monday night. Go Bills, and whatever you do, it better result in a W.