Players to watch in Bills vs. Browns on Thursday night

10/3/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

We've all heard the jokes about how Thursday Night Football is always a game that no one wants to see, slotted into prime time to generate a national audience. It's often sloppy thanks to a short week of preparation, and the teams involved are often not considered contenders.

Though the two teams involved tonight are both 2-2, I'm not sure that anyone outside of the teams' fan bases are too excited to see the Buffalo Bills take on the Cleveland Browns. Personally, I just can't help but watch NFL football when it's on TV, so what do I do during a game that I don't really care about? Find a game within the game - watch the exciting players, the individual matchups between top talents, and the wild card players who may boom or bust. Here is what I will be watching during Thursday night's game:

E.J. Manuel (QB - BUF): I think this is a pretty obvious one. The first quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL Draft will get his first shot to impress in front of a national audience on Thursday night. His dual-threat ability makes him exciting to watch, even if he's struggling. I'm going to be rooting for Manuel to play well against a very good Browns defense, however. I was particularly high on Manuel well before the Bills surprised us by taking him 16th overall in April, and I want to see him reach his lofty potential. He's been solid for a rookie so far this season, posting an 80.2 passer rating.

Sep 29, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Graham (24) tries to make a tackle on Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods (10) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat Ravens 23 to 20.  Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY SportsRobert Woods (WR - BUF): Another rookie who I liked a lot before the draft. His college tape reminded me of Andre Johnson (albeit a poor man's version), as he is an incredibly smooth receiver who can hurt you in a variety of ways. He can take a screen pass and elude tacklers, burn you deep for a big play, or come across the middle and make a tough catch. He's posted a mediocre 11/201/2 line through four games, but he's now playing the most snaps of any receiver on the team, and I am excited to watch him and Manuel together for a full game.

C.J. Spiller (RB - BUF): Assuming he is active, of course - he looks to be a game-time decision. Spiller is among the most explosive runners in the league, and despite his struggles early in the year, he is capable of absolutely terrorizing a defense in any given game. I'd also like to see the coaching staff get creative with him, as he is an incredibly versatile talent.
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