Week 7 of the NFL season gets started with a battle between old AFC rivals as the Denver Broncos travel to face the Cleveland Browns. With both teams off consecutive losses, the Browns are two-point favorites at home. The game also has an over/under of 41 points.
Cleveland is reeling after last week’s 37-14 home defeat at the hands of the unbeaten Cardinals. The Browns also fell short against the Chargers the previous week, with those back-to-back losses dropping them to 3-3. They are now two games off the pace in the AFC North and will play their next two games against divisional opponents, making Thursday’s game critical for Cleveland moving forward.
Of course, the Broncos are in a similar position, having lost three straight games. Denver opened the season 3-0, although most teams would have been able to beat the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets in consecutive weeks. That promising start has now been canceled out by three straight losses to the Ravens, Steelers, and Raiders that have the Broncos sitting at 3-3.
The Broncos aren’t exactly in a good place right now with regard to both injuries and performance. Teddy Bridgewater is battling a foot injury that could hinder his mobility while also trying to rebound from a game in which he threw three interceptions. Bridgewater is going to need that mobility to help escape a worrisome offensive line that has yielded 19 sacks in six games, including five last week.
The Broncos are also hurting defensively with Alexander Johnson joining Bradley Chubb and a few other Denver linebackers on IR. With the injuries starting to pile up, the Denver defense has conceded an average of 28 points per game during the team’s three-game losing streak. With the players around Von Miller missing in action, Miller and the Denver pass rush have been less effective, making the Broncos vulnerable through the air.
State Your Case
Of course, the Browns might be the most beat-up team in the NFL right now, starting with the quarterback position, as Case Keenum will start for the injured Baker Mayfield this week.
The Browns will also be without running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who have helped make Cleveland the best rushing team in the NFL thus far. That means Keenum will be playing without the team’s two best running backs and in front of an offensive line that’s allowed 18 sacks in six games.
Defensively, the Browns must surely be missing their confidence after giving up 84 total points over the past two weeks. After a couple of promising performances, the Cleveland defense has been ripped apart both on the ground and through the air by both the Chargers and Cardinals in recent weeks.
The silver lining is that Myles Garrett already has eight sacks to lead one of the best pass rushes in the NFL if the Browns are able to get a lead.
Too Much to Overcome
While the Broncos have problems of their own, the Cleveland offense has been devastated by injuries. Despite being at home, it doesn’t make sense for a team with a backup quarterback and two elite running backs hurt to be favored. Bet on the Broncos to win as road underdogs on Thursday night.
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