The Bills and Browns have met 21 times beginning in 1972, a dozen years after the Bills joined the league and 22 for the Browns. Buffalo lost 27-10 despite a solid performance from running back O.J. Simpson. The Browns’ defence got the job done shutting out the Bills after they scored the game’s first ten points.
Cleveland would dominate the series winning eight of the next ten games including their only playoff meeting in 1990, a season prior to Buffalo’s four straight Super Bowls. Since this meeting, the series shifted for Buffalo’s favour. The Bills won seven of the next 11 games.
Under the new Browns franchise, the Bills lead the series 5-4 and have won four of the last five with three coming by at least ten points. The Browns have been pitiful and the Bills, while not exactly worldbeaters, have consistently been a notch higher. They lead the series 12-9 overall.
The two are headed in different directions with the Browns trending upwards and the Bills going deeper into a rebuild. Buffalo is unlikely to continue controlling the series. Cleveland might be in the driver’s seat soon.
Buffalo Bills Recent History
While they’re not as bad as the Browns, they’re not far behind. The Bills barely made the 2017 playoffs with a 9-7 record and a -57 point differential. They ended a 17-season playoff drought, the longest at the time. The icy cold depths of Buffalo was simply a metaphor for how cold the franchise has been.
The Bills will forever live with the infamy of losing four straight Super Bowls. They were arguably the greatest team to never win a championship with up to five Hall of Famers on the roster. But these “glory days” are ancient history. Buffalo has since gone through a dozen losing seasons, ten head coaches, and have never finished with more than nine wins since 1999.
Despite their slight resurgence in 2017, the Bills decided to continue to rebuild. They drafted their quarterback and a few more young pieces. The immediate future looks rough but there is hope in Buffalo.
Cleveland Browns Recent History
The only franchise that has been sadder than the Bills have been the Browns. Since their reincarnation in 1999, the Browns have only made one playoff appearance, a wild card round loss to the Steelers. They’ve only produced two winning seasons as things went historically bad.
The Browns became just the second NFL team to go winless in a 16-game season in 2017. Prior to that, they went 1-15 and before that, 3-13. In their last three seasons, the Browns have four wins 48 tries. That is an 8.3 winning percentage and at this rate, the Browns would win 13 games in ten seasons.
But the offseason saw Cleveland make major moves to signal the end of this dark era. They drafted their quarterback messiah in Mayfield and signed Pro Bowl-caliber veterans. Don’t look now, but the Browns won’t be the worst NFL team anymore.
Buffalo Bills Outlook
The Bills did a “soft reset” on the franchise despite finally making it back to the playoffs most recently. Anchored by a strong secondary, the Bills have enough pieces to contend in a few seasons provided most of their top prospects pan out. That starts with Allen, who the Bills had to trade up twice to draft.
Allen is a project in the mould of a Brett Favre: a physically gifted specimen with a hulk-like arm. But he is at least two seasons away from being a competent starter. Besides him, the Bills also took a bluechip linebacker in Tremaine Edmunds and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips.
Buffalo has plenty of talent waiting to develop. The Patriots’ days could be numbered with Tom Brady’s retirement looming while Miami and New York also rebuild. In a few seasons, the Bills could be in an opportune spot to fight for a division title. And maybe more.
Cleveland Browns Outlook
The good news is, Cleveland has a good chance to win more games in 2018 than they have in the last three seasons combined. The bad news is, they’re still a long way away from being a contender. But that’s okay.
With the additions of veterans Taylor, Landry, and E.J. Gaines (CB) and the development of their young guns, Myles Garrett (DE) and Corey Coleman (WR) plus a nice crop of rookies, Cleveland fans have plenty to look forward to. Yet they still have plenty of holes to improve like both lines and special teams.
If Mayfield turns into the franchise quarterback Cleveland has long prayed for, the Browns will be set and can use subsequent offseasons to build around him. But if he doesn’t, God knows what the dysfunctional Browns’ management will do next.
This game could be the proverbial revenge game for Taylor, who is the Bills’ ex-signal caller. Despite leading the team to the playoffs and posting starting-calibre stats, Buffalo chose to part ways. Taylor now has a more talented roster in Cleveland and will be extra motivated to beat his former team.
Cleveland doesn’t have a LeSean McCoy but their offensive line is better and they have more talented receivers led by Landry and Coleman. The Browns’ defence will also get better from last season. They may have given up the second-most points but they ranked in the upper-half in yards allowed.
Both teams have plenty of new additions and the game can get sloppy quickly with players still learning the playbook and shaking off the rust. The rookie showdown between lottery picks Mayfield and Allen may come albeit just a few snaps.
It’s just a preseason game, but Taylor and the Browns will make a statement and whoop on the Bills. Cleveland is better on offence their defences cancel out. The Browns deliver on home turf.