The Buffalo Bills will go on the road for the first time in three weeks when they take on the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Buffalo is coming into this game with a 6-2 record after a victory against the Washington Redskins. Meanwhile, the Browns are the opposite at 2-6 after a loss to the Denver Broncos. To preview the match-up we talked to Thomas Moore from Dawgs By Nature to see what’s going on in Cleveland.
With high expectations going into the season, how are fans feeling right now?
This is as down and frustrated that the fan base has been in as long as I can remember. The expectations were completely unrealistic heading into the season, but that didn’t stop many of us from buying into them.
The losses have been hard to take, naturally, but it is really the lack of improvement on a weekly basis from the Browns that has been the most frustrating. You see them making the same mistakes every week and you are left wondering why nothing seems to be getting better.
Are people getting fed up with Freddie Kitchens?
That is one way of putting it. There is a group of fans who want Kitchens fired immediately, if not sooner, and another group that wants to wait and see if he can figure things out.
Waiting it out is really the only logical approach as it is somewhat unreasonable to expect someone to be perfect just eight games into their first head coaching job, especially given the schedule the Browns have played. (At the risk of drawing the ire of Bills Mafia, the Browns would be a heck of a lot better than 2-6 if they had played the schedule that Buffalo has played through the first half of the season.)
But giving Kitchens a chance circles back to the first question — you need to see signs of improvement on a weekly basis and that is not the case right now, at least not on a consistent basis.
What has been the development from Baker in year two?
Shockingly disappointing and, at times, a bit concerning.
While the overall expectations surrounding the team were unrealistic heading into the season, it was not unrealistic to believe that Mayfield would build on a very solid rookie season. But that has not been the case so far as Mayfield looks uncomfortable behind an offensive line with two of the worst tackles in the NFL (thank you, GM John Dorsey!), indecisive, and completely unlike the player we all enjoyed last season.
How much of that is play calling, defenses adjusting to Mayfield, a lack of consistent help from his supporting cast, Mayfield himself, or all of the above is a source of weekly discussion and debate among Browns fans and the media.
One thing is clear, however: Mayfield is broken and for the Browns to have any chance at real success, they need to find a way to fix him.
Kareem Hunt is eligible to play this week. What do you expect him to do or is it better to just ride Nick Chubb?
This is going to be interesting to watch over the final weeks of the season. The offense has had trouble adapting to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and now they need to work in Hunt midway through the year.
What the Browns should do is keep giving Chubb the bulk of the work — he’s earned it — and work in Hunt as needed to give the opposing defense another headache. In the right hands, it is a situation to be envied.
With the way the season is going for the Browns, however? They will likely have Chubb and Hunt on the sidelines while giving Dontrell Hilliard a few key third-down carries.
Predictions for Sunday?
It gets more and more difficult every week to hold out hope that the Browns will get out of their own way and finally win a game — but this week could be the one.
I’m not sold on the Bills because their record is strongly a result of who they have played this season as their six wins have come against teams that are currently a combined 9-42. And for all the hand wringing over Mayfield regressing from his rookie year, Bills quarterback Josh Allen only looks improved this year because his rookie season was so weak.
Allen ranks among the lower tier of quarterbacks in completion percentage, yards per attempt, quarterback rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio, and Buffalo’s offense is only averaging 336 yards of offense and 19.8 points per game — basically in line with the Browns (346 yards of offense and 19 points per game).
It might sound a bit odd to say that the Bills are worse than their record while claiming the Browns are better than their record, but there is some truth in there. It may be incremental, but the Browns have been finding themselves on offense the past few weeks and they have done it against much better competition.
Of course, if the Browns keep doing what they have been doing, then they will join the list of “easy teams” that the Bills will have defeated this year and will be left lamenting another wasted opportunity while Buffalo busies itself with securing a playoff spot.
Let’s hold off on that for a week, however: Browns 17, Bills 10