The list of possible scenarios the Browns face for their game setting Sunday in Buffalo (or another NFL stadium) is quite long.
With a potentially historic amount of snowfall set to blanket the Buffalo region throughout the weekend and as much as 4-6 feet of snow expected around the city, the NFL and Browns are working on plans for how and where the game will be played. As of now, it's business as usual for the Browns, who are set to depart for Buffalo on Saturday but could see those plans change depending on the forecast.
The preferred option, of course, is to play in Buffalo on Sunday at 1 p.m. But snow is expected to begin in the city Thursday night, per weather.com, and will likely last through at least Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Will the Browns be able to land in Buffalo this weekend? Would the Bills be able to depart Buffalo through the snow if the game is moved elsewhere? If the game takes place in Buffalo, how will both teams be able to safely transport players, coaching staff and team personnel to Highmark Stadium?
Those answers will come soon, but head coach Kevin Stefanski will let the league and Browns travel staff find those solutions.
"I'm sure it could," Stefanski said Wednesday when asked if the plans could change. "I'm sure some people are having some conversations about that. I'm not in that circle right now. They will fill me in on a need to know. For us, we just have to focus on our preparation. If something changes, we will tell the players and we will tell you guys."
The Browns, for the most part, will welcome a snow game — if it happens.
The powder could serve as an equalizer of sorts for both teams and would likely require each of them to turn to their run game more frequently to use the ball. Rushing is the most efficient way to move the ball through snow, and the Browns would certainly benefit from that type of plan with RB Nick Chubb. Cleveland has the fifth-best run game in the league. Buffalo is ranked 10th.
Chubb, however, has never played in the snow but would look forward to such a challenge.
"It's a little bit of excitement in there," he said. "You can't control the weather, so that's just one thing that I'm not really worried about. Have to go out and do it every week."
QB Jacoby Brissett initially laughed when asked if he knew how to prepare for a snow game — "I'm from Florida, so no, I wouldn't know" — but should probably give himself more credit. He played in the last heavy snowfall game in Buffalo as a QB for the Colts in 2017 and completed 11 of 22 pass attempts for 69 yards and one touchdown. Indianapolis lost 13-7, the type of low score that almost always tells the tale of a snow bowl.
"I don't want to talk about the results of the game," he said with a smile.
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, however, believes that experience would prove beneficial for Brissett, should he face another snowy environment Sunday.
Van Pelt would know how far that experience goes, too — he was a QB for the Bills from 1994-2003 and was an assistant coach for them from 2006-2009. Snow games aren't new for him, and he knows it probably won't feel new to Brissett, either.
"He's the least guy I'm worried about," Van Pelt said. "He's already experienced it."
Brissett is ready for anything, and so are the rest of the Browns.
"We're preparing right now for just a normal game week," OG Joel Bitonio said. "Obviously, if the weather is a factor, we're really not too focused on it. I know they're probably behind the scenes deciding what they're going to do. Obviously, you're probably a little bit more explosive in the passing game if you are playing inside than if it is a blizzard outside.
"We're really just trying to focus on us right now and getting the game plan down that we have set."
Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams regular season game against the Buffalo Bills
Prepping for Allen
Regardless of the weather, the Browns will face a tough challenge Sunday against Bills QB Josh Allen.
Allen has completed 64.5 percent of his passes this season with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, which leads the NFL. He's struggled recently and has thrown one touchdown and four interceptions in the last two games, which the Bills have both lost.
"He's arguably the best quarterback in the league — he's one of them," CB Greg Newsome II said. "He's a great player. He's a big guy — 6'6", 240 pounds. He can run the ball. Obviously, has one of the strongest arms ever. He's a great quarterback. He can pretty much do everything. It's definitely going to be a tough challenge for us."
The Browns, however, will be on the hunt for more takeaways from Allen and look to keep him cold.
"He tries to extend a lot of plays," Takitaki said. "He's trying to make plays. When our opportunity is there, we have to just make them. It's definitely something that we're aware of and something that we want to capitalize on."
Ford embraces KR role
The Browns' biggest play last Sunday against the Dolphins was their first play, a 48-yard kickoff return from rookie RB Jerome Ford.
Ford, who came off injured reserve before the game, sparked the Browns' best offensive drive of the afternoon with the return — the Browns scored a touchdown four plays later. Ford, though, did the table-setting and showed the Browns he's worthy of more kick return opportunities with his big play.
The return wasn't anything that surprised special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who envisioned Ford as a kick returner when Cleveland drafted him in the fifth round last spring.
"We thought that from the beginning since we drafted him, knowing that he did not have the experience in college because he was such an obviously great running back in college that they didn't use him in that spot, but we're going to use the best athletes in the best spots that we can," he said. J"erome has really embraced that role. He's made some mistakes early in the year in terms of decision making, but he has improved there a lot. We talk about it all of the time. He comes up to my office, and we work extra two or three times a week to make sure he understands the different types of kicks, different types of returns and different types of situations that these guys are put in. The more he does it, the better he will get."