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Denver Broncos' Keys to Victory: Week 6 at Cleveland Browns

Ken Pomponio Avatar
October 17, 2015

Keys-to-Victory-

Who: Denver Broncos (5-0) at Cleveland Browns (2-3)

What: 2015 Week 6

When: 11 a.m. MDT, Sunday, Oct. 18

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium; Cleveland

TV: CBS

Announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

Radio: KOA (850 AM), The Fox (103.5 FM)

Odds: Broncos -4; O/U 42.5

Notable: The Orange & Blue have won 19 of the 24 all-time meetings against the Orange & Brown, including a current 10-game streak which dates back to 1991. … Peyton Manning also has a history of success against Cleveland, winning all six of his career starts against the Browns, including a 34-12 win in their last meeting in 2012. The rest of Manning’s victories over the Browns came with the Colts, but strangely, he’s thrown only five touchdown passes – three of them coming in the 2012 contest – and seven interceptions despite the unblemished record. … The Broncos are eyeing the seventh 6-0 start in franchise history; in five of the previous six seasons that featured a 6-0 start, Denver advanced to the Super Bowl.

The Keys

  • Time to run: Of course you know the Broncos rank 30th in the league with 71.6 rushing yards and 21.6 attempts per game, but the Browns rank 31st in rushing D, allowing a 149.4 yards per game and an unhealthy 5.04 yards per carry. The Orange and Blue once again figure to feature a makeshift offensive line with left tackle Ty Sambrailo out and left guard Evan Mathis dealing with a balky hamstring, but if C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman are completely stuffed again as they were last week in Oakland (a combined 43 yards on 18 carries) there’s real reason to doubt the Denver ground game will ever be able to find traction this season.
  • Slow down McCown: Tom Brady? Nope. Aaron Rodgers? Nay. The red-hot Andy Dalton? Close but still not quite there. Good guesses, all, but no NFL QB has thrown for more yards over the last three weeks than the Browns’ Josh McCown, who’s completed 96-of-141 attempts for six TDs and an interception while also adding another TD on the ground. The Browns only have won one of those three contests, but that win came last week in Baltimore when McCown threw for a franchise single-game record 457 yards in a 33-30 overtime win. McCown’s top target has been tight end Gary Barnidge, who leads all tight ends with 20 receptions for 319 yards and three TD grabs over that span. Still, it also must be noted that the two 30-somethings have posted those figures against the not-so-formidable defenses of the Raiders, Chargers and Ravens while the Broncos feature a unit which has racked up 22 sacks, is allowing allowed only 192.8 aerial yards per outing (fifth in the league) and has allowed a league-low three scoring passes this season. Two Denver defenders to watch are linebacker Shaq Barrett, who is scheduled to make his first pro start with DeMarcus Ware sidelined with a back issue, and safety T.J. Ward, who will be aiming to have a big game against his former team and figures to see a lot of Barnidge in coverage.
  • Continue to be extra-special: The Broncos – surprising to many following a spotty preseason – feature one of the league’s special-teams units with solid kick-coverage units and Brandon McManus making all 12 of his field goals and all 11 of his extra-point attempts. The Browns, meanwhile, are right up there as well with second-year kicker Travis Coons perfect so far as well on kicks and speedy wide receiver Travis Benjamin ranking fourth in the league with a 15.4-yard punt-return average. Benjamin has brought a punt return back to the house in three of his four seasons with the Browns, including a 78-yarder earlier this year.

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