The Denver Broncos have won their fifth straight game improving to 6-5 on the season and are now officially in the hunt for the playoffs. In what initially appeared to be a closer matchup on paper between Denver's offense and Cleveland's defense, this game resulted in the opposite outcome. The Broncos handed it to the Browns on Sunday evening in the Mile High.
From defensive turnovers to pounding the football at a premium, the Broncos were far more prepared for this grueling matchup than most expected. In the 17-point victory, numerous players played with a physical play style and infectious attitude that helped propel them over a well-coached Browns team. In probably their best win yet, this Broncos team under head coach Sean Payton does not show any signs of slowing down over the remaining six games of the season. Beware, NFL.
Denver Broncos Stock Up following big victory over Browns:
DT D.J. Jones
Second-year Broncos defensive tackle DJ Jones was nothing short of impressive Sunday against Cleveland's offensive line. Of course, the pressure was a bit inconsistent. However, Jones was flying from the defensive line to the sideline making impressive hustle tackles all throughout the game. It was very reassuring to witness how engaged defensive players were in hustling downfield to make needed tackles, especially when the run defense was not consistent. Jones, 28, also added a key fumble recovery late in the second half that helped the Broncos seal their victory.
WR Courtland Sutton
Despite not having a touchdown this week, which has felt like an automatic stat weekly for him, wide receiver Courtland Sutton put together another impressive performance. The soon-to-be 2X Pro Bowler caught three passes for 61 yards but should have had even more yards added to the stat sheet if it were not for a bad "offensive pass interference" call by the referees. Sutton is playing the best football of his career right now.
QB Russell Wilson
Boy has Russell Wilson silenced his doubters as of late. The 34-year-old quarterback was showing serious flashes of vintage Russ during Sunday's victory connecting with tight end Adam Trautman for a nice scramble and touchdown. In addition, Wilson rushed 11 times for 34 yards and a touchdown in the victory as well. He's not being asked to do much but manage the offense to an exceptional level and make plays with his legs when plays break down and he has done exactly that. He may not be Mr. Unlimited anymore, but you can call him Mr. Comeback Player of the Year.
S P.J. Locke
Ladies and gentlemen, the Broncos have their future franchise safety and I'm not talking about just Justin Simmons. Fourth-year Broncos safety PJ Locke has been a pleasant surprise for many fans in Broncos Country and will continue to turn heads around the league as long as he remains the starter in the absence of Kareem Jackson. The 26-year-old defensive back recorded seven tackles, one strip-sack, and a pass breakup in Sunday's win. He's incredible.
OLB Nik Bonitto
Second-year outside linebacker Nik Bonitto has brought a mentality to Denver's edge room that is simply unmatched. The young pass rusher racked up two tackles, 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, one tackle for loss, and a pass breakup against Cleveland. His attitude on the defensive side of the ball has clearly rubbed off other players and as a result, the Broncos' pass rush is playing much more physical as a unit. And the scary part is that Bonitto is still playing raw during a handful of rushes. Just imagine how well he'll play when he perfects his craft and polishes his technique...
RB Samaje Perine
Another week, another Samaje Perine masterclass. The veteran running back has been an excellent addition to Denver's offense and proved it again on Sunday after totaling 65 yards and a touchdown in the win. From a pass-protection standpoint, Perine is also such a valuable asset to Sean Payton's passing attack. It cannot be overstated enough how important Perine has been to Denver's running back room.
OT Garett Bolles
Veteran offensive tackle Garett Bolles is quietly putting together an incredible season in 2023. In 42 snaps, Bolles held the NFL's front-runner for defensive player of the year, Myles Garrett, to zero sacks and just one pressure the entire game. It was by far Garrett's worst game of the season and Bolles' best. With the Broncos in cap trouble in 2024, it will be very interesting to see how general manager George Paton goes about handling Bolles' contract considering he has played worthy of an All-Pro selection this season.