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High-Five! Broncos aim for fifth-straight win vs. Browns

Denver7 keys to victory include running ball, stopping run
Colts Broncos Football
Posted at 1:05 PM, Nov 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-25 15:05:26-05

ENGLEWOOD – A month ago, their season teetering into a crevice, Broncos players delivered a message. They were tired of being that team, that easy mark for the Kansas City Chiefs. They were over the Chiefs not taking them seriously – Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce attended the Texas Rangers World Series Game on Friday night before facing Denver two days later. The (Un)Sweet 16 straight losses to Kansas City, the Rom-Com storylines involving Taylor Swift, the pleas of Broncos Country all conspired to help Denver reach its flash point.

The Broncos snapped the losing skid, dominated the Chiefs by causing five turnovers, recovering three fumbles, and picking off Mahomes twice. It filled the Broncos players’ confidence with helium. For the first time in a long time, they felt different. They beat a team they were not supposed to, and the buy-in became contagious under new coach Sean Payton.

Denver aims for its fifth straight win Sunday for the first time since opening the 2015 season 7-0. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this home game vs. Cleveland. At 5-5, the Broncos have climbed back into the playoff conversation. Now, the challenge is simple: Do they have enough energy in the tank to reach the peak? Win the next two games against Cleveland and at Houston – teams in front of them in the standings – and the Broncos’ chances of reaching the postseason increase to roughly 50 percent.

“Winning four straight is a great feeling. It’s up to us to keep this rolling,” receiver Jerry Jeudy said.

My Denver7 keys to a Broncos win:

Run with the Win
The Browns do not need a mirror to know who they are. Cleveland is a running team. Wants a rock fight. Loves it. Siphon the clock and lean on a defense that is well-rested. It’s all part of the plan. Even without Nick Chubb (ACL injury), the Browns rank third in rushing at 142.7 yards per game. The Broncos yield a league-worst 160 yards per game on the ground and have been gashed for 367 the past two weeks. Denver needs to keep Cleveland around the 130 total to win their third straight home game, which includes physical performances from D.J. Jones, Zach Allen, and Mike Purcell.

Stay grounded
The Browns create issues. By running so well, they create urgency from opponents worried about the keep-away game. The Broncos cannot lose patience with the ground attack. It has been more gritty than pretty the past two weeks with Denver averaging 3.12 yards on 53 carries. Javonte Williams netted only 37 last week. Getting him to 75 yards is critical for balance.

Mr. Big Shot
Cleveland is without top cornerback Denzel Ward. It likely signals more zone coverage from the Browns. It means Courtland Sutton must find the soft spots underneath, and in play-action, Russell Wilson needs to hit Jerry Jeudy or Marvin Mims Jr. for a 40-yard plus strike.

Ball security
Wilson is not putting up big numbers, but he has been alarmingly efficient. He remains on pace for 32 touchdowns and seven interceptions. During the Broncos’ current win streak, he has seven touchdown passes and no picks. It is important he takes care of the ball and looks for Sutton in the red zone. And when the opportunity surfaces to scramble, go north and south like a point guard on the fast break, not east and west, which leads to trouble.

Myles down the Road
Knowing where edge rusher Myles Garrett is remains paramount. He leads the league with 13 sacks. He lines up against the left tackle around 65 percent of the time – Garett Bolles has played well this season -- and will end up over the right tackle, guard, and center on occasion. He will likely get a sack and a few quarterback hits. The key is not to let him wreck the game with a strip sack.

Take it Away Now
The Broncos have gone bananas with takeaways, posting 12 over their past three games, their most in a three-game stretch since 1997. This is where I should tell you this is not sustainable. However, Browns rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson is making his first road start. There is no reason the Broncos cannot force him into a couple of mistakes. The former UCLA star has struggled with accuracy (55 percent) and has yet to throw a touchdown pass in 80 attempts. If Denver can make Cleveland face third-and-5 and longer, Thompson-Robinson will turn the ball over.

Mims the Word
Receiver Marvin Mims Jr. leads the league in punt and kickoff return average. The Browns do not defend the punt particularly well. Will they give Mims a chance to flip the field? Also, in a low-scoring game, kicker Wil Lutz continuing to simmer is a must.

Troy’s Prediction: Broncos 19, Browns 17