Royal Oak Tribune

Slumping Bills, Browns escape snow, will meet in Detroit

- By John Wawrow

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. >> A day before the looming threat of a lakeeffect snowstorm led to the Bills’ home game against Cleveland being shifted indoors to Detroit, Dion Dawkins happily reminisced about how much fun he had playing in the snow in 2017.

“I promise you it’ll be one of the funnest games that you’ll see,” the left tackle said on Wednesday, referring to his rookie season when the Bills defeated the Indianapol­is Colts 13-7 in overtime in near white-out conditions.

It wasn’t until the subject turned from snowfalls to Buffalo falling out of the AFC lead following two straight losses when Dawkins’ mood suddenly soured.

“Does anybody else have a question?” he said.

The Bills (6-3), evidently, don’t need to be reminded of their midseason slump. They’ve blown second-half leads in each of their past two outings and skidded from top spot in the conference to sixth overall — and third in the AFC East thanks to a loss to the

New York Jets.

As if they haven’t faced enough adversity from injuries this season, the Bills now lose their raucous homefield advantage by having to play at the Lions’ home, Ford Field, on Sunday. The NFL made the switch on Thursday, citing safety and travel concerns stemming from a lake-effect storm projected to dump between 1 and 3 feet of snow on the region through Saturday.

“You can’t let it buckle your knees. Things happen in this business all the time,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said, before urging the team’s fans from Michigan and points beyond to show up.

The Bills could use whatever boost they can get.

Last week’s concerns about Josh Allen’s sore throwing elbow have shifted to the quarterbac­k’s sudden run of turnovers and Buffalo’s secondhalf scoring troubles, which preceded the injury.

Allen leads the NFL with 10 intercepti­ons after being picked off twice in each of his past three games, and also muffed a snap in his end zone, which the Vikings recovered for a touchdown in Buffalo’s 33-30 overtime loss on Sunday. The offense, meantime, hasn’t scored a second-half touchdown over the same stretch.

Allen acknowledg­ed he’s pressing and needs to place more trust in those around him.

In Cleveland, the Browns (3-6) have lost four of five and are running out of chances to stay in the playoff picture while waiting for quarterbac­k Deshaun Watson to complete his 11-game NFL suspension. He was allowed to begin practicing this week.

Jacoby Brissett will make what should be his secondto-last start on Sunday, with Watson due to take over when the Browns face his former team, Houston, on Dec. 4.

Inconsiste­ncy on both sides of the ball has been a season-long issue for the Browns. After their first three losses were decided by a combined margin of six points, two of their past three have been routs, including a 39-17 loss at Miami.

With sideline temperatur­es approachin­g 100 degrees in South Florida, coach Kevin Stefanski acknowledg­ed the heat played a factor, while insisting that shouldn’t be an excuse for managing a season-low 297 yards offense while surrenderi­ng a season-high 491 yards.

The Browns at least escaped the prospect of going from a hot extreme to a cold one, with the game now being played indoors.

“We lost in Miami so I don’t really want to play there again,” receiver Amari Cooper said. “It doesn’t really matter where we play to be honest.”

Snow days

The Bills’ last major snow game against Indianapol­is in 2017 featured Brissett as the Colts’ starter. He finished 11 of 22 for 69 yards and a touchdown as the Bills won thanks to LeSean McCoy’s 21-yard TD dash over a snow-covered field.

“I don’t want to talk about the results of the game,” Brissett said with a laugh.

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