Week 11 is here, and the 6-3 Buffalo Bills are back at their home away from home as they host the 3-6 Cleveland Browns in Detroit at Ford Field. The Bills and NFL decided the game should not be played in Orchard Park due to a historic snowstorm that dumped over 70 inches of snow in the surrounding areas of Highmark Stadium. While the game could theoretically have been played in Western New York, there was major concern about the safety of the fans and anyone else trying to travel to and from the game.
The Bills are favored by eight points, per DraftKings Sportsbook, and expected to bounce back this week after losing two games in a row to the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. This game won’t be a walk in the park for the Bills, as they will be without starting defenders Tremaine Edmunds and Greg Rousseau. Wide receiver Jake Kumerow has been placed on IR, which will leave the Bills short at the position. The Browns will be without defensive backs D’Anthony Bell and Greg Newsome II, defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey, and guard Michael Dunn. Stud tight end David Njoku is also questionable with an ankle injury.
Here are my thoughts and things to look for during this game:
- Josh Allen has been in a bit of a funk when it comes to his performance since the second half of the Green Bay Packers game. While there are still moments and flashes of his brilliance, we’ve seen him have difficulty protecting the ball in key situations, and his decision-making hasn’t been as sharp. What version of Allen will Bills fans see today? Now that the weather isn’t a factor to be concerned with, I’m hoping Allen and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey get back to basics. The first few games of the season, they ran the offense through Allen and wideout Stefon Diggs with a healthy dose of short passes that allowed Diggs to create YAC opportunities. While Diggs’ numbers haven’t suffered, he’s been getting his stats differently, and the other receivers around him don’t get the same opportunities. Gabe Davis hasn’t put up WR2 numbers outside of a couple of games. The bulk of his numbers came against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he posted 171 yards and two touchdowns on just three receptions. I’d look to see Allen get Davis and tight end Dawson Knox both involved in the offense to take some of the pressure off of Diggs.
- Edmunds missing this game is a big deal. Defensively, the Bills looked very good in the first half against the Vikings, as they kept Kirk Cousins and the offense in check. When Edmunds left with his groin injury, it looked like there was a completely different offense on the field against the Bills. The Browns might not have the most prolific passing attack in the league, but they certainly have one of the best running back rooms that can be dangerous even if Buffalo were fully healthy on defense. Veteran safety Jordan Poyer has a chance to play, which would be a big boost for the Bills, but missing Edmunds will invite the Browns to test the run defense early and often. I’m looking for defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier to find creative ways to stop the run and help the young secondary stop Amari Cooper.
- Last Sunday, running back Devin Singletary started the game on fire. Rushing for two first-half touchdowns appeared to be easy for the run offense, while taking pressure off of a questionably injured Allen. My focus for this week is seeing how confident the Bills are in the running game. After a fumble, it seemed like the coaching staff chose to refrain from trusting him, even though the Bills had a double-digit lead to protect going into the fourth quarter. I’d like to see the running game be more involved overall, without Allen’s rushing stats to inflate the numbers. And why did the team trade for Nyheim Hines? When will James Cook really be allowed a chance to shine?
The Bills are better than the Browns. Top to bottom, Buffalo has a better roster. This game should not be close, especially given the circumstances to move the game to a dome. Negating the weather factor should make this a favorable matchup for the Bills. But I do have a fear of the Browns’ running game. If the Bills can open the offense up early and score some points, the Browns will be forced to put the ball into Jacoby Brissett’s hands, and take it out of the hands of Chubb and Hunt. I’m taking the Bills to cover at their home away from home.
DraftKings Circle the Wagons SGP
- Stefon Diggs Anytime Touchdown
- Stefon Diggs 85+ Receiving Yards
- Gabe Davis 60+ Receiving Yards
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