Browns vs. Bills -- Thursday, Oct. 3 -- 8:25 p.m. ET
For the second consecutive year, the Cleveland Browns welcome the Buffalo Bills to the North Coast for an inter-divisional AFC match-up, and will do so under the lights of prime time for the first time since their 29-27 road win in Ralph Wilson Stadium on Monday Night Football on Nov. 17, 2008.
This year’s meeting will be the sixth in the last seven years between the teams, dating back to an 8-0 Browns win in a blizzard on Dec. 16, 2007 at then-Cleveland Browns Stadium. Cleveland holds a 3-2 mark in those previous meetings.
Including the 2013 game, the Browns have hosted the Bills in each of the last two years. Last year, they welcomed Buffalo to town on Legends Weekend, but the Bills spoiled the festivities when they jumped out to an early two-touchdown lead in the first quarter and earned a 24-14 victory.
This will be the first time the Browns host the Bills in regular-season games in back-to-back seasons. In 1990, the Browns hosted the Bills in a playoff game and won, 34-30, on Jan. 6, but 10 months later, Buffalo came back to Cleveland Municipal Stadium and earned a 42-0 victory in a regular-season contest.
The Bills finished with an average of eight seconds more in time of possession than their opponents, but were outgained 5,806 to 5,486 in total yardage, including a 3,473 to 3,269 deficit in the passing game and a 2,333 to 2,217 difference in the ground game.
Buffalo allowed 13 more touchdowns than it scored (53 to 40) and committed 13 more turnovers than its opponents last season.
Individually, Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 306 of 505 attempts (60.6 percent) for 3,400 yards and 24 touchdowns against 16 interceptions and finished the year with an 83.3 quarterback rating. However, he was sacked 30 times for 161 lost yards.
Wide receiver Stevie Johnson was Fitzpatrick’s top target, catching 79 passes for 1,046 yards and six touchdowns. Scott Chandler caught just 43 passes for 571 yards, but equaled Johnson’s six touchdowns.
When Fitzpatrick was not throwing the ball, C.J. Spiller was running it, to the tune of 1,244 yards and six touchdowns on 207 carries. Spiller added 459 yards and two touchdowns on 43 receptions out of the backfield. Veteran running back Fred Jackson rushed for another 437 yards and three scores on 115 carries.
Spiller finished the year with the longest run, 62 yards, and second-longest reception, 66, of the Bills’ season.
Defensive back George Wilson registered a Bills-best 79 solo tackles and 25 assists. His 104 combined tackles finished second on the team, behind linebacker Nick Barnett’s total of 112 stops. Barnett finished with 72 solo stops, and his three forced fumbles were tied for second-most on the team behind Jairus Byrd, who also led the team with five interceptions.
Defensive end Mario Williams was a free-agent acquisition of the Bills in the 2012 offseason, and finished the year with a team-leading 10.5 sacks, his best single-season total in the last four years.
Key Additions: Signed quarterback Kevin Kolb (free agent); re-signed running back Tashard Choice, cornerback Leodis McKelvin and offensive lineman Colin Brown.
Key Losses: Linebacker Shawne Merriman (to retirement), Fitzpatrick (released).
Draft: The Bills addressed the offensive side of the ball with three of their first four picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. They selected quarterback E.J. Manuel (first round), and wide receivers Robert Woods (second) and Marquise Goodwin (third). They also added kicker Dustin Hopkins (sixth) and tight end Chris Gragg (seventh) in the later rounds of the draft, after selecting linebacker Kiko Alonso (second), free safety Duke Williams (fourth) and defensive back Jonathan Meeks (fifth).
Browns running backs
Bills offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders played high-school football at Northmont in Clayton, Ohio, where he was an All-American and the Anthony Munoz Foundation Offensive Lineman of the Year as a senior.
Wide receiver Brad Smith was a two-time Youngstown Offensive Player of the Year at Chaney High School, where he accounted more than 3,900 yards of total offense and 53 total touchdowns. He was also an all-city honoree in basketball.
Bills center Eric Wood went to Elder High School in Cincinnati, where he was a tackle and tight end, and also earned basketball postseason honors during his senior year.
Right tackle Sam Young was born in Dayton.
Tight end Lee Smith is the son of former Brown, the late Daryle Smith.
Bills quality control coach Jason Vrabel went to and coached at Marietta College, where he set every quarterback record for the Pioneers. He was the school’s Male Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2007, and a three-time NCAA Division III Player of the Week in his final two seasons.
Offensive line coach Pat Morris is a native of Cleveland.
Running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley served in the same capacity at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, during the 2008 season.
The Browns are 10-7-0, and 5-4-0 in home games against the Bills, who ended 2012 with a 6-10 record and fourth-place finish in the AFC East Division.