Can Baker Mayfield break another Browns streak in Denver?

Mayfield looks to keep Cleveland's playoff hopes alive for another week

Daryl Ruiter
December 14, 2018 - 4:01 pm
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws a pass for a first down against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – With their playoff hopes still on life support, the Browns and Broncos clash Saturday night in Denver – and in primetime.

Having struggled to win a game over the previous 3 years, the Browns entered the 2018 season with zero expectations but after winning 3 of their last 4 they have managed to work their way into the playoff conversation.

How they respond under the lights in a hostile environment with the mile-high altitude and their season on the line might be the biggest story line to watch.

Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has spent his first NFL season snapping all the winless and losing streaks – overall, divisional, on Sundays and the road – but another awaits in the mile-high city – losses to the Broncos which stands at 11 and dates back to 1990.

Since the coaching changes were made on Oct. 29, Mayfield has taken off.

Prior to the coaching change Mayfield had completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 1,471 yards with 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 6 games – 5 starts. He was sacked 20 times. In the 5 games since the change Mayfield has completed 73.2 percent of his passes for 1,406 yards with 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He’s been sacked just 3 times.

No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward, who has 3 interceptions, a forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries in addition to 11 pass breakups this season, will miss his second straight game due to a concussion while the Broncos hope to unleash the fifth overall pick – defensive end Bradley Chubb – on Mayfield.

Chubb has already set a new franchise record with 12 sacks this season and he is just 2.5 shy of Javon Kearse’s NFL rookie record but the Browns do not have buyers remorse passing on Chubb for Ward.

Broncos all pro defensive end Von Miller has 13.5 sacks this season, 1 more than Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who is trying to gain steam for defensive player of the year consideration.

Containing Denver’s versatile running back Phillip Lindsay will be paramount with their receiving corps banged up. Lindsay leads the NFL in rushing average – 5.8 yards per carry – and is just 33 shy of the coveted 1,000-yard mark. He has scored 6 of his 9 rushing touchdowns in the last 4 games.

Last week – Browns beat the Panthers 26-20; Broncos lost to the 49ers 20-14

Last Time – Oct. 18, 2015 Broncos 26, Browns 23 F-OT

Series – Broncos lead 20-5; have won 11 straight in the series

Rankings – Points scored: Browns 18 (22.5), Broncos 19 (22.3)

Yards: Browns 15 (359.4), Broncos 16 (358.6)

Rushing: Browns 14 (120.2), Broncos 7 (130.2)

Passing: Browns 17 (239.2), Broncos 21 (228.4)

Points allowed: Browns 24t (25.5), Broncos 9 (21.7)  

Yards allowed: Browns 31 (411.2), Broncos 24 (383.4)

Rushing yards allowed: Browns 28 (133.3), Broncos 19 (119.2)

Passing yards allowed: Browns 31 (277.9), Broncos 26 (264.2)

Turnover ratio: Browns 4t (+9), Broncos 4t (+9)  

Probable Starters – Offense: WR Jarvis Landry, TE Darren Fells, LT Greg Robinson, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Kevin Zeitler, RT Chris Hubbard, QB Baker Mayfield, TE David Njoku, WR Rashard Higgins, RB Nick Chubb

Defense: DE Myles Garrett, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DT Trevon Coley, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, WILL Genard Avery, MIKE Joe Schobert, SAM Jamie Collins, CB Terrance Mitchell, CB TJ Carrie, FS Damarious Randall, SS Jabrill Peppers

Injury report – OUT: CB Denzel Ward (concussion), OL Austin Corbett (foot)

Questionable: C JC Tretter (ankle), DT Larry Ogunjobi (bicep), DB Phillip Gaines (knee)

Expected to play: CB Justin Burris (shoulder), LB Jamie Collins (shoulder), CB Terrance Mitchell (wrist), TE David Njoku (knee), LB Joe Schobert (knee), DB Tavierre Thomas (abdomen), DL Brian Price (Achilles)

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

Kickoff – 8:22 p.m. – Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver, Colorado

Our prediction – Browns 24, Broncos 20