Salvage mission: Browns look to end 3-game skid at Denver

Broncos backup QB Brandon Allen makes NFL debut

Daryl Ruiter
November 02, 2019 - 5:00 pm

© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Time is running out for the Browns to get their season on track as they travel to Denver looking to end a 3-game losing streak.

Although some frustration is starting to show, as evidenced by Baker Mayfield’s confrontational exchange with a reporter this week, Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb and several others within the locker room maintain they are close to turning the season around.

It can’t come soon enough because time is running out before any realistic shot of making the playoffs evaporates and a loss to the Broncos Sunday would likely send those hopes vanishing into the thin mile high air.  

The 2-6 Broncos are having their own problems this season and now they’ve lost their starting quarterback Joe Flacco for the season. Flacco, who suffered a herniated disc in last week’s 15-13 loss at Indianapolis, was placed on injured reserve Friday.

Brandon Allen, who has never taken a regular season NFL snap, is in his fourth year and will make his official debut in Flacco’s place.

What to watch for – Chubb ranks third in the NFL with 738 yards behind Dalvin Cook (823) and Leonard Fournette (791) and average yards per carry at 5.51. Chubb ran for 100 yards on 20 carries in last year’s 17-16 win over the Broncos and Sunday’s game will likely be the last that he’ll have to carry the load by himself on the ground with Kareem Hunt set to debut after an 8-game suspension. It might not be the worst idea to ride Chubb, who is aiming to atone for a pair of fumbles that put the Browns in a hole last week at New England, Sunday.

As expected, Landry and Beckham are the Browns’ top 2 receivers. Beckham leads the team with 34 catches, Landry leads in yardage with 504 but neither have been making the consistent game-changing plays they were expected to this season. The duo has combined for just 1 touchdown through 7 games. Can either get on the board Sunday?

With Allen debuting, it’s expected the Broncos will try to pound the ball on the ground with running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Lindsay averages 4.5 a carry and has run for 492 yards and 4 touchdowns while Freeman owns a 4.1 yards per carry average and has scored twice. The Browns rank 29th against the run but have held opponents below 125 rushing yards 4 times this season.

An inexperienced QB in Allen provides opportunity for the Browns bookend pass rushers, Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon. Garrett is tied for the NFL lead with 10.0 sacks this season and his 30.5 career sacks are a Browns franchise record for a player in his first 3 seasons. He’s added 10 tackles for loss, 13 QB hits and forced a pair of fumbles. Vernon is coming off his best game as a Brown last week at New England that saw him register his second sack, a season-high 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 2 QB hits.

Keeping Broncos linebacker Von Miller away from Mayfield will be a focal point for the Browns offensively. Miller has 4 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 9 QB hits and 26 tackles in 8 games for Denver this season.

The Browns have been a bit too generous with the football this season, turning it over 17 times – 12 interceptions and 5 lost fumbles. They’ve yet to play a game this season without a turnover.

Last week – Browns lost to the Patriots 27-13; Broncos lost to the Colts 15-13

Last Time – Dec. 15, 2018: Browns 17, Broncos 16  

Series – Broncos lead the all-time series 20-6, including 3-0 in playoffs and 7-1 in the expansion era

Memorable Moment – The Browns first win at Denver and against the Broncos since 1990 came last season, 17-16. Jabrill Peppers’ sack in the closing minutes sealed the victory after Baker Mayfield threw a pair of touchdowns and Nick Chubb ran for 100 yards on 20 carries to help Cleveland win their fourth in 5 games.

Rankings – Points scored: Browns 25 (19.0), Broncos 28 (15.6)

Yards: Browns 20 (345.3), Broncos 26 (312.6)

Rushing: Browns 12 (125.4), Broncos 16 (110.0)   

Passing: Browns 20 (219.9), Broncos 27 (202.6)

Points allowed: Browns 22 (25.9), Broncos 8 (18.9)

Yards allowed: Browns 21 (365.4), Broncos 4 (304.5)

Rushing yards allowed: Browns 29 (143.3), Broncos 19 (109.8)  

Passing yards allowed: Browns 7 (221.1), Broncos 4 (194.8)

Turnover ratio: Browns 28t (-9), Broncos 21t (-2)

Probable Starters – Offense: WR Odell Beckham Jr., TE Ricky Seals-Jones, LT Greg Robinson, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Eric Kush, RT Chris Hubbard, QB Baker Mayfield, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Antonio Callaway, RB Nick Chubb

Defense: DE Myles Garrett, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DT Sheldon Richardson, DE Olivier Vernon, WILL Mack Wilson, MIKE Joe Schobert, CB Denzel Ward, CB Greedy Williams, FS Justin Burris, S Jermaine Whitehead, SS Morgan Burnett

Injury report – Out: S Damarious Randall (hamstring), TE Pharaoh Brown (concussion), S Eric Murray (knee)

Questionable: OT Kendall Lamm (knee)

Expected to play: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (groin), WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder), S Sheldrick Redwine (hamstring), S Jermaine Whitehead (hand)

Uniforms – Primary colors: brown jerseys and pants with orange striping and numerals

Broadcast – Radio: 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX and the University Hospitals Cleveland Browns radio network. TV: WOIO TV-19

Kickoff – 4:25 p.m. – Empower Field at Mile High – Denver, Colorado  

Our prediction – Browns 27, Broncos 13  

Our prediction record – 4-3