Week 16: Browns at Broncos

Brandon Weeden vs. Payton Manning… Ya, that’s fair.

We’re so close… Oh so very close to the end of this wretched season.

With two games left to go, the Browns travel to Denver to take on the Broncos. That means we have the privilege of seeing about 75 shots of John Elway’s ugly horse face, and at least 2 references to “The Drive” and “The Fumble.”

Adding to the misery is the fact that the Broncos are good… like, really good. In fact, the Broncos look like they might be the best team in the AFC right now, if not the entire NFL. Meanwhile, the Browns are coming off a terrible loss to the Redskins in which they made Rookie QB Robert Griffin III Kirk Cousins look like the second coming of Peyton Manning. Oh, and we get to face the real Peyton Manning this week.

Ya, it’s going to be a real blasty blat.

Oh look, it’s our arch-nemesis. He haunts us when We’re awake AND in our nightmares.

So the question is pretty simple: Do the Browns have any chance in hell of winning this game on Sunday?

No.

See, I told you that was simple.

In all seriousness though, while I don’t think the Browns will win this game, I have this strange feeling that they’re somehow going to make a game of it. Whenever they are heavy underdogs this season they’ve found a way to make things close. Also, Peyton Manning has this weird history of struggling against the Browns. If both of those trends hold true, then buckle up. We could be in for a game.

And that’s all we can really ask for; a close game heading into Christmas for a fan base that has endured over a decade of horrendous football. We’re not asking to win the game. We just want the Browns to compete and make it entertaining. Now, if the Browns want to go ahead and win Sunday’s game, then by all means go right ahead. But, like I said, just make it competitive and I think a lot of Browns fans will have themselves a merry little Christmas.

Keys to Victory:

1. Force Peyton Manning into making mistakes: I know, this is easier said than done, especially with how the Broncos have been playing, but the Browns defense has had a knack of forcing teams into turnovers. It’s their only chance of winning the game. If not, look for Manning to have a big day connecting with Eric Decker and Demarius Thomas.

2. Slow down Knowshon Moreno: Who saw this one coming? In his first three seasons, Moreno has been an overwhelming disappointment. He was a super athletic first round draft choice and for whatever reason his game didn’t translate to the NFL level and he couldn’t stay healthy. Things got so bad that Moreno actually lost his job to Willis McGahee. But, over the past 4 games, Moreno is averaging over 20 carries per game and has rushed for over 100 yards in the previous two games. He’s been reborn as a straight ahead rusher between the tackles. If he gets going he could have a huge day.

Ed Reed… I own you know. Sincerely, Knowshon Moreno.

3. Weeden has to be better: You can argue all day about who was more to blame for the Browns horrendous offensive performance last week. Was it Shurmur’s play calling or Weeden’s throws. Well, however you want to spin it, Weeden has to start making the throws. It doesn’t matter if Shurmur is calling crap plays, Weeden struggled all day and threw two really bad interceptions that hurt any chance the Browns had of winning that game. He had shown tremendous growth and seemingly back tracked 25 steps with one crap outing. He has to get back on track.

4. Give Trent Richardson the Ball: Trent Richardson touching the ball 11 times can’t happen again. Not under any circumstances. He is the most sure thing the Browns have offensively and the Browns have to do a better job of utilizing him. He needs to get a heavy work load and touch the ball upwards of 25 times. Not to mention, giving the ball to Richardson more should make things easier on Weeden as the Broncos D, which is one of the best pass rushing/pass defending teams in the league, will have to be honest at the line of scrimmage. It would help significantly with the play action passing game.

Get used to seeing this on Sunday from Von Miller.
And this from Elvis Dumervil… Pray for Brandon Weeden.

5. Stop the Broncos pass rush: This ties into the previous point, but if the Browns think they’re going to drop Weeden back to pass 40-50 times and actually win the game, they’re crazy. If the Broncos know the Browns are passing, they are going to unleash the hounds and the end result may be the death of Weeden. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are bad, bad men. They make a living by destroying opposing quarterback. Brandon Weeden… good luck.

Prediction: Browns 13 – Broncos 27

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