Preview: Browns at Broncos

0
40

The Broncos come into Week 15 needing to win out in order to even think of a playoff spot. After an embarrassing loss to the Niners, Denver needs to bounce back game now more than ever. Cleveland is looking to be one of the hotter teams right now. The offense has changed to be more similar to what Baker Mayfield ran at Oklahoma, which doesn’t come as a surprise considering that “college” offenses are gaining more and more popularity in the NFL thanks to the success of guys like Carson Wentz and Patrick Mahomes.

Denver, as I’ve mentioned before, is dealing with a lot of injuries right now. Rookie cornerback Isaac Yiadom suffered a separated shoulder last Sunday and will most likely be out for Saturday’s game. Shaq Barrett and Chris Harris Jr. both remain out indefinitely with a hip injury and broken leg, respectively. Derek Wolfe will most likely remain questionable as he deals with a concussion. Linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee), TE Matt LaCosse (shoulder), CB Tramaine Brock (ribs), and rookie WR Courtland Sutton (quad) have all been limited in practice, but could play this week.

Cleveland is dealing with injuries of its own, as TE Orson Charles (ankle), T Austin Corbett (foot), C J.C. Tretter (ankle), and first round pick CB Denzel Ward (concussion) have not practiced this week. DT Larry Ogunjobi (biceps) and CB Philip Gaines (knee) have been limited.

Denver needs this game, so let’s look at their 3 keys this week:

  1. Play more man to man in the secondary: Last week was…horrendous. Denver’s banged up secondary almost allowed an NFL record to be broken in the first HALF. Look, the secondary has been suspect all year and anyone who tells you otherwise may need to go get Lasik surgery. Bradley Roby has been abysmal in his first full year as a starting outside corner. Sure, he’s had some quality moments here and there, but he has been getting picked on all season. Darian Stewart is aging week by week and Justin Simmons and Su’a Cravens are clearly having a hard time defending tight ends (Danny Trevathan, please come back). Cleveland has more weapons on the offense than San Francisco did. Antonio Callaway looks like a steal and Jarvis Landry is starting to heat up. David Njoku and Nick Chubb (the OTHER Chubb) should not be discounted either. Baker Mayfield is playing excellent football right now, so the secondary needs to throw his timing off by playing more press man to man coverage.

2. RUN THE BALL: Cleveland is currently allowing 133.3 rushing yards a game (28th) and is allowing 277.9 passing yards per game (31st). With Emmanuel Sanders done for the year and Courtland Sutton trying to make rookie adjustments, Denver should look to take advantage of the dynamic duo of rookie running backs that they have. Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman have been excellent at running the ball this season, but it seems like Vance Joseph isn’t too keen on handing the ball off to them. Lindsay and Freeman combined for only 20 carries against San Francisco, which is 6 less than what Saquon Barkley had by himself last weekend. If Denver wants to win, POUND THE ROCK and keep Baker off the field.

3. Get to Baker: Von Miller has been criticized for his offsides penalties by the media, coaches, and fans. There’s absolutely no reason he should be. He has more sacks than penalties in his career, so leave the guy alone. Nick Mullens made himself look like a 10 year vet rather than an undrafted, third-stringer by inducing Von into jumping offsides with one HELL of a hard count. Von is sitting at 97 career sacks, one away from breaking the franchise record of 97.5 held by Simon Fletcher, and Bradley Chubb (THE Chubb) is sitting at 12.5 sacks on the season, 2 away from tying Jevon Kearse for the all-time rookie sack record. If Denver can continue to bring excellent pressure from the outside, Baker could get rattled and throw some ducks to the secondary, which has been seen by him as of late. The Broncos need to dial up the pressure and win one for the home crowd…and celebrate an all-time Broncos legend.

Denver takes on Cleveland on Saturday, December 15th at 5:20 Pacific Time on NFL Network.