After nine straight wins, the Denver Broncos finally control their own destiny towards a playoff bye. Granted it is still a long shot for the Broncos to overtake the Houston Texans for the number one seed, but the difference between the number two and three seed is huge. If the Broncos win their last two games; they get the bye and host a second-round playoff game. It starts on Sunday with a home game versus the Cleveland Browns.
Despite their 5-9 record, the Browns have a very good defense. They stop the run and get after the quarterback as well as anyone however they are coming off of a game where they gave up 38 points to the Washington Redskins. Keep in mind that the Redskins were playing with their backup quarterback in Kirk Cousins, and they did whatever they wanted to do. Moving forward to Sunday, the Broncos may struggle at times to move the football but eventually Peyton Manning will figure things out.
The Broncos have been running the ball well in recent weeks but they will have to throw early to loosen up the Browns defense. Once they get a lead with the pass then they should be able to run the ball with Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman. On the outside, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have the advantage and if Manning gets time to throw, then they will be some big plays down the field. In short; the Broncos will throw early and run later and while the Browns will make some plays on defense, the Broncos will score 30+ points as they almost always do.
The Browns offense has real trouble moving the ball and scoring; the Broncos have arguably the best defense in the NFL. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is a bad matchup for the Browns. The one real weapon they have is rookie running back, Trent Richardson. He is a good one but since the October loss to the New England Patriots, the Broncos have been great against the run and currently rank number two in the league. It is also likely that the Browns are going to be behind and once the Broncos get a lead they feast on quarterbacks. With all due respect to Brandon Weeden, the Browns rookie quarterback, the Broncos have made veteran quarterbacks look bad. The Browns will try to run the ball and keep it away from Manning, as every team does, but it’s hard to see the Browns being able to move the ball.
The one chance the Browns have to stay close is if the Broncos come out flat but this is a focused group. They have had numerous games that people thought would be a classic letdown spot for the Broncos, and it hasn’t happened. They finally have everything they want right in front of them and they are not going to give it back now. From head coach, John Fox to Manning to Champ Bailey to everyone else; this team has had a razor sharp focus for over two months now and that focus is now on the Browns. The Broncos roll again, 34-9.
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