At first glance, the Cleveland Browns victory over the Buffalo Bills looks impressive. Sean McDermott and company entered Sunday’s game with a 6-2 record.
Unfortunately, the New England Patriots lead the AFC East, so before the season even started Buffalo saught a Wild Card playoff spot. The Bills still lead the race for Wild Card, but after a loss to the Browns, the question arises: did the Browns get significantly better, or are the Bills a sheep in wolves’ skin?
The Bills’ strength of schedule should be questioned. Their six wins come against opponents with a combined record of 9-41. The Bills defeated the New York Jets, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, and Washington Redskins.
Everyone points to the Bills schedule, but what about the Cowboys?
Buffalo's 6 wins have come against teams with a 9-41 record.
Dallas' 5 wins have come against teams with an 11-31 record.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) November 5, 2019
To be fair, Josh Allen caused frustration against the Patriots in Week 4. The game ended 16-10 in favor of New England.
The Bills undeniably have one of the better defenses in the NFL. Currently, Buffalo ranks third in both total yards allowed per game (304.2) and passing yards allowed per game (188.7).
Their run defense is concerning, especially considering the strength of their opponent’s offenses through the first 10 weeks. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt’s successes should’ve been expected.
Baker Mayfield, aside from not throwing interceptions, didn’t look particularly effective from the pocket. He completed 26-of-38 passes for 238 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 68.3.
Compared to a majority of his previous eight starts, his performance was top-notch. However, compared to the rest of the league, his performance was average.
Jarvis Landry shined with Tre’Davious White shadowing Odell Beckham Jr., but proper ball distribution remains a problem.
The Browns, a team with one of the best rushing attacks in the league, barely eeked out a win over the Buffalo Bills, a team with one of the worst run defenses in the league. The game-winning drive ended with a touchdown from Mayfield to the frustrated Rashard Higgins.
“TOUCHDOWN! IT’S RASHARD HIGGINS!”
🗣 Jim Donovan’s call of our game winner pic.twitter.com/dk2JOTagr2
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 11, 2019
The Bills’ inflated record makes this win seem more impressive than it is. As far as the record books are concerned, a win is a win. The Browns are one step closer to pulling off the playoff miracle.
However, regarding speculation, this win offers little for Cleveland to get excited about.
The Browns continue to inch in the right direction. This Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers challenge the Browns’ run defense. It’ll be interesting to see how well the defense handles a more explosive offense.
The penalties and turnovers are getting better, but Freddie Kitchens and company need to continue to get better inside the 20-yard line.
There is no time to celebrate in Cleveland. Their season is at stake each week. Prepare for battle in two days.
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