A stunning loss to the Minnesota Vikings dropped the Buffalo Bills to 6-3 and third place after their second defeat in a row.
Cleveland Browns scouting report: Buffalo Bills
You must have an active subscription to read this story.
Click Here to subscribe Now!
Editor's note: Tony Grossi is an analyst on the Cleveland Browns for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.
Browns v. Buffalo Bills
Sunday, 1 p.m., in Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
Last game: Lost to Minnesota Vikings, 33-30 (OT), Nov. 30, in Orchard Park.
Coach: Sean McDermott, 58-39, sixth year.
Series record: Browns lead, 13-9 (counting postseason).
Last meeting: Browns won, 19-16, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cleveland.
League rankings: Offense is first overall (10th rushing, second passing), defense is eighth overall (seventh rushing, 14th passing) and turnover differential is minus-1.
Things to watch
1. Josh Allen has been on a steady growth plane since drafted seventh overall in 2018. He’s top five in virtually every quarterback ratings metric. Which makes what’s happening recently so perplexing. In his first 67 NFL games, Allen never threw two interceptions in a fourth quarter/overtime. Now he’s done it in two of his last three games. He never threw two interceptions in the red zone in a game until Sunday. In the last six quarters, Allen has six interceptions and one touchdown. These are errors Allen didn’t even make as a reckless rookie. They seem to have rattled him some because he takes losing so hard. There was also a fumbled snap recovered the in the end zone for a Vikings touchdown in this stretch.
2. Reports last week of Allen missing a game, or more, because of a right elbow injury were based more on speculation than fact. The Bills never leaked any relevant information on Allen’s injury or disputed exaggerated reports. Truth is, Allen looked magnificent throwing, and running, until the fourth quarter against the Vikings.
3. Allen’s recent slump has nothing to do with the departure of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll (to the Giants). Under successor Ken Dorsey, the Bills rank second in scoring (27.8 points per game) and first in offensive yards (424.1). Another weird occurrence of this Bills season: It’s basically been an Allen and Stefon Diggs show. Not only has Allen thrown 20 touchdowns, he’s the team’s leading rusher with 476 yards (7.1 average) and four rushing touchdowns. Diggs (72 receptions, 985 yards, seven TDs) has 44 more receptions than the next-best receiver on the team.
4. Von Miller’s impact on the Bills’ defense has been profound. Not only does he lead the Bills with eight sacks (on 18 total tackles!), Miller has been credited with mentoring young pass rushers Greg Rousseau (five sacks) and Boogie Basham (two).
5. Two key players in the defense could return from injuries to face the Browns. Safety Jordan Poyer missed the last two games with an elbow injury and Pro Bowl cornerback Tra’davious White, who has not played since an ACL injury in last year’s Thanksgiving Day game, appears ready to make his 2022 debut.
Did you know … ?
1. Devin Singletary is the team’s leading running back with only 394 yards (4.3 average). Allen’s 476 yards and 7.1 average balloon the team’s rushing average from 4.5 yards per attempt to 5.3. Newly acquired running back Nyheim Hines has one reception and no rushes in two games.
2. Since 2021, 48 of Gabriel Davis’ 59 receptions have resulted in first downs. That 81.4 percent first-down rate is the highest in the NFL. Davis, who had an NFL-record four touchdown catches in a playoff game against Kansas City last year, leads the NFL by a mile with a 22.7-yard average on 24 receptions.
3. On preseason sports books, the Bills had the shortest odds of any team to win its division. Yet they sit third in the AFC East behind Miami (7-3) and the Jets (6-3). They have lost to both teams on the road and are 0-2 in division games. How important is it for the Bills to gain the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs? They have exited the playoffs on the road the last three seasons with losses in Houston and Kansas City (twice).
4. Sean McDermott has guided the Bills to four post-season appearances in his first five seasons as coach, so he’s not on any hot seat. But the Bills’ recurring meltdowns in big games have some wondering if the team acquired a “choke” gene from their coach.
Small world: Safety Jordan Poyer (2013-16), quarterback Case Keenum (2020-21), running back Duke Johnson (2015-18) and defensive tackle Eli Ankou (2019) played for the Browns … Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey (2006-08) played for the Browns … Linebackers coach Bobby Babich (2013-15) was a Browns assistant secondary coach … Defensive quality control coach Kyle Shurmur is the son of former Browns head coach Pat Shurmur.