The Cleveland Browns travel to Detroit this week to take on the Buffalo Bills in a “home” game away from Highmark Stadium. When the initial crazy forecast dropped this week, it looked like some wild weather would favor Cleveland, given their penchant for power running. While the Browns may still be able to find success with the run game, that success will have to happen inside a domed stadium, because the game has been moved to Ford Field in Detroit.
If Buffalo wants to break a two-game losing streak, they’ll need to stop Cleveland’s key players. It’s the final week where quarterback Jacoby Brissett will start, so the Browns will need help from their two excellent running backs. There’s your spoiler for the day, as both running backs appear among our five players to watch this week.
RB Nick Chubb
The bruising back is having a career year. Chubb is one of three players (the others are Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry) averaging 100 rushing yards per game this season. He leads the league in rushing touchdowns with 11, and he’s also fourth in carries (160) and third in rushing yards (904). The Bills will need to hold him under his yearly average in order to prevent him from going over the 1,000-yard mark for the year in Week 11. Chubb is on pace for over 1,700 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. Both totals would obliterate his previous career highs. The Bills will need to be big in their run fits, and their corners will need to come down and do a great job protecting the edges. Last week, Buffalo was great against the run on every play but one, and that one play ended up an 81-yard touchdown for Dalvin Cook. They can’t afford such lapses this week against a team always looking to run it right down their opponents’ throats.
RB Kareem Hunt
I’m a little surprised that Cleveland didn’t trade Hunt, as the 27-year-old back requested to be dealt in order to escape Chubb’s shadow. However, Hunt remains with the Browns, and he’ll be another weapon ready to give the Bills headaches. He hasn’t been as effective as in years past; Hunt is averaging just 3.8 yards per rush this season. However, he is a matchup nightmare thanks to his prowess as a receiver, and with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds cruising towards, at best, a questionable designation this week, that could spell trouble for the Bills. The last time these teams met was in 2019, and Hunt had seven catches for 44 yards in that game. Buffalo needs to limit him out of the backfield in order to force Brissett to throw the ball outside the numbers.
WR Amari Cooper
But when he does throw it outside the numbers, it will be tremendously helpful to have eyes on Cooper, who leads the Browns in targets (69), receptions (42), receiving yards (585), and receiving touchdowns (5) this year. Those numbers aren’t huge, but Cooper is a talented wideout who can be a problem for Buffalo’s young corners. He’s no Justin Jefferson, so I’m not expecting another torching at the hands of a team’s WR1, but if Buffalo isn’t careful, Cooper is capable of making big plays. If safety Jordan Poyer, who’s missed the last two games with an elbow injury, can come back this week, then that will make the corners’ job much easier.
DE Myles Garrett
This guy is a beast, and whether it’s Dion Dawkins or Spencer Brown tasked with blocking him, they will need some help along the way. Garrett has 7.5 sacks, eight tackles for a loss, and 11 quarterback hits this year. He is long, too, and quarterback Josh Allen has a lot of passes knocked down at the line for a taller quarterback, so even if Garrett isn’t able to generate a pressure on a given down, he can still disrupt the play by batting balls down at the line. Some chips from running back Devin Singletary and tight end Dawson Knox are going to be useful this week, and it might help to run some screen passes Garrett’s way to make him hesitant, even if only for a second.
CB Denzel Ward
The veteran corner remains a tough beat in his fifth professional season, and given the prodigious run of turnovers Allen’s been on of late, he’ll be the guy to watch this week in terms of securing more. Ward has just one interception this year, but he leads the Browns with seven pass breakups. He’s allowed a quarterback rating of just 77.7 this year as the closest man in coverage. Whether Ward’s covering Stefon Diggs or Gabe Davis, Allen isn’t going to shy away from him; however, the Bills need to be wary of his whereabouts in the game. On the other side, Greg Newsome II has allowed a quarterback rating of 107.3, so it might be a better deal to find the person Ward isn’t covering and target him instead. Ward is a top-notch corner on a middling defense.