Potential NFL Ruling Affords Browns Competitive Advantage Over Bills

Jacoby Brissett

Getty Images Head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns talks with Jacoby Brissett.

Northeastern winters are generally no joke come the month of November, but the conditions shaping up for this weekend extend beyond the ridiculous.

The Cleveland Browns (3-6) were set to play a game to salvage their season against the Buffalo Bills in New York state this weekend, though that venue is now in doubt due to what weather forecasters are describing as a “thundersnow” potentially threatening the area.

The phenomenon, which is essentially a thunder storm that produces mass amounts of snow rather than rain and is accompanied by lightning, is rare. If it occurs over Buffalo in a few days time, it is also expected to produce between three and six feet of snow, which would make any outdoor activities next to impossible, particularly an NFL football game.

As a result, the league announced Thursday that it is considering a change of venue that would rob the Bills of a home game and could help turn the tide of home field advantage toward the Browns to at least some degree.

“Forecasts calling for snow totals of 3-to-6 feet by Sunday in Buffalo, including possible “thundersnow,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported via Twitter on Thursday. “Last time snow forced NFL to move a game out of Buffalo was 2014, when Jets and Bills played that Monday night in Detroit. NFL monitoring storm, talking to Bills and Browns.”

Detroit Offers Browns Players, Fans Travel Advantage Over Buffalo

Dan Campbell

GettyHead coach Dan Campbell waives to the Detroit Lions crowd at Ford Field, the potential location of the game between the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills on Sunday, November 20, 2022.

The league is considering again making Ford Field in Detroit the de facto replacement game venue, which geographically favors Cleveland.

Instead of traveling 260 miles to Buffalo, the Browns would travel 170 miles to Detroit. Instead of avoiding travel altogether, the Bills would travel 260 miles of their own to get to the game site.

Furthermore, Browns fans can make the trek to Michigan nearly two hours faster by car than can Bills fans — and that’s without factoring in weather conditions that might make both car and air travel more time-consuming and dangerous in the greater Buffalo area this weekend.

Somewhat ironically, the Detroit Lions travel to play the New York Giants on Sunday. However, MetLife Stadium is actually located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which is not expected to be dealing with weather even remotely as extreme as the thunder snow building toward Buffalo.

In another twist, if the game is moved the Bills will play two consecutive games in Detroit just four days apart, as they are scheduled for a road game against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

Playing Indoors Likely Affords Edge to Bills Over Browns

Kareem Hunt

Getty ImagesCleveland Browns running backs Kareem Hunt (left) and Nick Chubb (right).

Of course, there are two sides to every coin and while the Browns look to benefit from the weather costing the Bills a home game and a home crowd, the on-field conditions indoors clearly favor Buffalo over Cleveland.

The Browns are a top five rushing team in the NFL by volume this season, amassing 1,429 ground yards through nine games. The Bills are essentially middle of the pack in this category, rushing the ball 68 fewer times for 260 fewer yards on the season, per NFL.com. Heavy snow and wind makes passing the football effectively next to impossible and favors the Browns running back tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt immensely over the Buffalo backfield.

Conversely, the Bills are a top four passing team by volume led by MVP candidate Josh Allen, while the Browns rank 22nd through the air behind backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

UPDATE: The NFL on the afternoon of Thursday, November 17, officially decided to move the Cleveland Browns contest against the Buffalo Bills to Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The game will be played there on Sunday, November 20.

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