Every game features important matchups that could play a huge role in determining the outcome of the game. Here are a few of the ones that jump out in this week’s matchup between the Browns and Bills.
Browns OLB Barkevious Mingo vs. Bills LT Cordy Glenn – Glenn moves pretty well and takes some good angles for being a house at left tackle, but Mingo is all about speed. The natural sense is that Glenn would have a substantial advantage in the run while Mingo would have an advantage rushing the passer and that could be the case. Glenn is extremely wide with great ballast and makes it difficult to get around him and while Mingo can be overpowered in the running game, Glenn has to catch him first which can be easier said than done.
Browns OLB Paul Kruger vs. Bills RT Erik Pears – Pears is the smallest of the Bills offensive line and Kruger has been an effective run defender on the left side. He is able to use a mix of athleticism and power to get in and make plays against the run and the pass. Pears has to be able to anchor against Kruger in the run while also having the range to get out and block him.
Bills DE Mario Williams vs. Browns OTs Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz – Williams is the Bills starting right end but he has been moved around at different times including last year where Williams managed to get the best of Schwartz for a pair of sacks. Williams is a challenge against however he is up against but with Schwartz likely being flanked by Oniel Cousins again, he is a man on an island against an extremely talented pass rusher.
Bills DTs Marcel Dareus, Kyle Williams and Alan Branch vs. Browns Gs John Greco and Oniel Cousins/Shawn Lauvao – It is still not clear if Lauvao will start or if Cousins will play this game, but whoever it is will have their hands full. Blocking Dareus is not much different than blocking Phil Taylor in terms of power and having someone who can get into the backfield and put pressure on the quarterback. Williams is the lightest of the bunch and just works hit butt off to make plays. The Bills will rotate defensive linemen and at times will feature Dareus and Branch, which puts close to 700lbs of beef in the middle of the line to lean on the line and collapse the pocket. They are extremely different in terms of what they do compared to the Bengals but are similarly talented.
Browns DE Desmond Bryant vs. Bills G Colin Brown – When the Bills are back to pass, Brown will be tasked with blocking Bryant who has been incredibly disruptive as a member of the Cleveland Browns. In fact, his last game against Cincinnati was the only game where Bryant did not at least get part of a sack and he has a great combination of strength, athleticism and length. Brown is a mountain of a man much like Glenn next to him but he has his work cut out for him in Bryant.
Browns DT Phil Taylor vs. Bills C Eric Wood – This is the best center the Browns have seen since week one against the Dolphins and Taylor was extremely disruptive in that game where the Dolphins ran for 23 yards on 20 carries. The Bills are a heavy, heavy run team and Wood is big for a center, so this will be a huge opportunity to show why he is talented. If he can anchor against Taylor or move him off of the ball, it could allow the Bills to run the ball and create scoring opportunities.
Browns CBs Joe Haden and Buster Skrine vs. Bills WRs Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods – The Bills may actually want Johnson on Haden as nuts as that might sound as Johnson gets up for these types of matchups and has been really productive against Darrelle Revis. They certainly would not complain if he is able to produce against Skrine, but if he can produce against Haden, it really opens up the offense. On the other hand, Skrine is coming off of his best game and Woods is an extremely talented route runner who knows how to get open and make plays. The Bills are hoping that someone can get open and create some easy throws for E.J. Manuel.
Bills CBs Leodis McKelvin and Justin Rogers vs. Browns WR Josh Gordon – Since coming back, Gordon has been extremely tough to contain. The Bengals did a surprisingly good job with an injured secondary and Gordon only caught three passes. The Bills hope to have similar success and avoid having Gordon run free like he did against the Vikings. They may need to use safety help over the top to avoid getting beat deep.
Bills MLB Kiko Alonso and SS Aaron Williams vs. Browns TE Jordan Cameron – While it is unlikely this will be a straight man on man matchup with the way the Bills run different defenses, Alonso probably will be in the neighborhood as much as possible. Alonso was an exceptional coverage linebacker coming out of Oregon and he has come out with 4 interceptions over his last 3 games, so whether in man on man or some kind of disguised zone, Alonso will be patrolling around the dynamic Cameron. Aaron Williams is a former corner turned strong safety so he will likely be playing a lot against former wide receiver Cameron. Cameron has basically been like Alonso on the offensive side of the ball. He has 5 touchdowns in his past 3 games and is able to get open, but appears open even when he is covered.
Browns ILBs D’Qwell Jackson and Craig Robertson, S T.J. Ward vs. Bills TE Scott Chandler – Whether success on the part of the Browns or failure by the Bengals, the Bengals tight ends added up to 6 catches last week. Considering how difficult it is to cover players that big, that was not a bad day. Chandler is about as big as it gets at 6’7” 272lbs, so the Browns will probably do everything they can to jam him and use multiple defenders to box him when he goes out for passes.