The Cleveland Browns (0-1) visit the Mile High City this year as they look to put last year’s dramatic loss to the Broncos behind them. The two teams meet once again this year, but under new head coaches, coordinators, and a switch in their offensive and defensive schemes. With two Belichick-bred head coaches, anything is possible, and we’ll probably see plenty of similarities between the two teams’ play calling strategy. Eric Mangini lost to the Broncos last year as the Jets head coach, and so he’s got plenty of tape to look at. Like Josh McDaniels who brought plenty of former Patriots into Denver, Mangini brought former Jets to his new team, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. He also got rid of Kellen Winslow, and unsuccessfully attempted to trade Sir Drops-A-Lot Braylon Edwards. Last season, the Browns went 4-12, giving their passionate fans yet another rebuilding season to look forward to. Because Denver is coming off of an emotional win and playing at home, I think they should be able to handle the Browns with ease. My Prediction: Broncos 24 Browns 13.
Broncos – The good news is the Broncos didn’t turn the ball over last week. The bad news is they couldn’t find the endzone until there was 11 seconds left in the game. I don’t think Eddie Royal or Peyton Hillis were utilized enough, and as we all know, they were big contributors last year. Brandon Marshall had just 4 catches for 27 yards – he needs to work on getting more yards after the catch. Knowshon Moreno could potentially have a great game. While he’s no Adrian Peterson, the Browns did give up 225 rushing yards last week against the Vikings. The offensive line allowed three sacks last week (a quarter of the sacks that they allowed all last season), so they need to do a better job of protecting Kyle Orton. Orton also needs to do a better job of using the pump fake instead of staring his targets down. There were tipped balls and near interceptions last week because his eyes were locked on his receivers too much. This is a great game to try some new things and get the offense into some kind of rhythm.
Browns- Brady Quinn is in the limelight as the Browns starting QB and he knows the job could be taken from him at any moment. Quinn is able to take what the defense gives him, however, he’s a young gun that makes mistakes that costs his team the game. Just last week, he lost the ball at a critical point in the game, when it was still in reach. He’s known for throwing the short ball well, and utilizing Jamal Lewis’s running game more than he’s known for the deep ball. Braylon Edwards had just one catch last week. The Broncos defense needs to be more concerned with Robert Royal who had 4 catches for 60 yards and a TD last week. This offense isn’t as threatening as Cincinnati’s offense, but they can put up some points if the Broncos defense decides to take a week off. The play calling should be fairly balanced and concentrate on finding the weak areas in the Broncos defense.
Broncos – I haven’t been this excited about a Denver defense in a long time. I know they still have a long way to go, but there is potential on this squad. Holding the Bengals to 7 points with all of the offensive talent they have was very impressive. On paper, the Browns aren’t as threatening as the Bengals, and Brady Quinn is a headcase that can have his game thrown off in an instant. Pressuring him in the pocket is necessary so he doesn’t have time to make those short drop off passes to Jamal Lewis or anyone else. Mario Haggan, Elvis Dumervil, and Andra Davis are capable of getting some sacks on this team. Davis came to Denver after playing for Cleveland for 7 years, so he’s going to be fired up for this game. Containing the Browns on 3rd and long is probably a good team goal considering they gave up some big first downs to the Bengals in that situation last week. None of their receivers concern me with Champ and Andre Goodman downfield.
Browns- Eric Mangini brought in 6 former Jets to this team with David Bowens and Eric Barton taking the lead on the defensive squad. I think they all just wanted to live a little closer to Brett Favre in Minnesota. The Browns employ a 3-4 with Rob Ryan (formerly of the Raiders) as defensive coordinator. Last week, they sacked Favre 4 times, but didn’t create much of a stir in any other area. Abram Elam led the team in solo tackles. At the half, Cleveland held Minnesota to just 10 points, but then let Peterson go off on them by scoring two TDs in the second half while Brett Favre threw another TD to Percy Harvin. I think this defense got tired, so look for the altitude to effect them in Denver. The Broncos offense definitely has the edge here.
Broncos – Matt Prater is the man right now. Big field goals last week dialed up from long distance shows why Josh McDaniels didn’t bring in another kicker during training camp. Brett Kern shanked a punt last week, but overall, his boots have been solid. has been handling the returns and he can break one for a big game against the Browns. The special teams’ defense has got their work cut out for them as they’ve got two incredible athletes who could get the Browns into great field position.
Browns- Josh Cribbs ran one back for a TD last week, and Percy Harvin took a punt 41 yards before he was brought to the ground. Cribbs also led the team in solo tackles on special teams last year. Kicking duties fall into the hands of Phil Dawson who was perfect last week and Dave Zastudil who got the ball inside the 20 on two occasions against the Vikings.
Broncos – During the week, McD focused on the mistakes that the Broncos (and the Bengals) made during week 1. He’s emphasized that he’s not going to send 10-12 passes to a particular player every game just because of who that player is. I like that thought – not pressuring your QB into certain throws which could turn into turnovers, but I think McD isn’t utilizing certain individual talents. It’s those talents that put points up on the board.
Browns- Romero Crennel was given the pink slip just as Mangini was given his in New York. Mangini got too stuck on his QB last year, so I think if things don’t go well for Quinn, he won’t hesitate to insert Derek Anderson into the lineup after a few games. With both head coaches learning the ropes under Belichick, this could be a true chess game – a game of the minds. Enjoy!
Tags: Abram Elam Adrian Peterson Andra Davis Andre Goodman Brady Quinn Brandon Marshall Braylon Edwards Brett Favre Brett Kern Champ Bailey Cleveland Browns Dave Zastudil David Bowens Denver Broncos Derek Anderson Eddie Royal Elvis Dumervil Eric Barton Eric Mangini Jamal Lewis Josh Cribbs Josh Mcdaniels Kellen Winslow Knowshon Moreno Kyle Orton Mario Haggan Matt Prater Percy Harvin Peyton Hillis Phil Dawson Robert Royal Romeo Crennel