It appears as if reality may be setting in for the Denver Broncos. After getting off to a promising 3-0 start, the Broncos have dropped their last three. With how the season has played out for the AFC West, however, they are only one game out of first place. But if the last three weeks are any indication, the Broncos are going to have a hard time staying in the race.
Denver desperately needs a win to get back on track. With a game against the Browns in Cleveland on Thursday Night Football (Oct. 21), getting that win will not be easy. Then again, with all the injuries the Browns are dealing with, maybe it will.
Broncos vs. Browns Betting Odds
|Denver Broncos vs. Cleveland Browns, Thursday, 10/21 @ 8:20 PM ET||Best Broncos Odds||Best Browns Odds|
|Unibet||+4.5 (-111)||Spread||-4.0 (-110)||BetMGM|
|DraftKings||Under 43.0 (-115)||Total||Over 42.5 (-110)||BetMGM|
As nice as the 3-0 start to the season was, the three subsequent losses have been disappointing. Losing to an excellent Ravens team was not a surprise, but the Broncos did look decent against them. On the other hand, it took a 13-point fourth quarter to make the loss to the Steelers look respectable. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns made the loss to the Raiders look better than it was.
So what happened? Why have things gone downhill after such a promising start?
Injuries play a part along with the level of competition, of course, but the protection (or lack thereof) and absence of a running game probably have more to do with it. In the first three games, the Broncos made a concentrated effort to run the ball (28, 30, and 37 attempts). In the three losses, they ran it 17, 18, and 23 times.
To be fair, the Broncos have probably passed the ball more because they have been playing from behind and needed to catch up. They have made a couple of games look better, but quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took a lot of punishment in the process. He missed the second half against Baltimore with a concussion. Against the Raiders, he got hit 17 times and sacked five.
With the Browns’ talent in the front seven, he could easily get battered again Thursday night.
Denver’s offensive line is better than it has played so far this season. If it can provide Bridgewater with some time and the running backs with a few running lanes, the Broncos could have a chance against a Browns team riddled with injuries.
After their worst loss of the season at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals last week, the Browns would love to get back on track with a win at home this week on national television. However, with the injuries the Browns are going to be dealing with, that may be easier said than done.
The Browns’ offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, but it was missing both starting tackles against the Cardinals and it showed. They managed 73 yards on the ground, and quarterback Baker Mayfield got sacked five times. In the process, Mayfield committed three turnovers and reinjured his non-throwing shoulder.
While he says he will play through the pain, playing with that pain and discomfort is not going to be good for his game. It will help if the Browns can get the run game going against the Broncos, but there is no telling what their run game will look like.
Running back Kareem Hunt will spend the next few weeks on Injured Reserve after injuring his calf in the second half against the Cardinals. Running back Nick Chub missed last week. While he is still listed as out on the injury report, coach Kevin Stefanski has said Chubb’s status for Thursday is undecided. If he cannot go, the Browns will have to turn to rookie sixth-round pick Demetric Felton, who has yet to carry the ball in an NFL game) and D’Ernest Johnson.
Johnson had one carry for two yards against the Cardinals and has three for 11 yards this season.
If the Browns have to lean on the passing game, it looks like they might be without their top two wide receivers. Jarvis Landry is still on the IR. Odell Beckham Jr. is listed as questionable after getting a little banged up against the Cardinals.
Broncos vs. Browns Betting Recommendation
Cleveland’s injury issues will make this game more competitive than it should be, however, the Broncos will still need to run the ball. They will probably struggle to do so against the Browns’ front seven. Injuries in the Cleveland secondary will make passing the ball a little easier, but not so easy that Denver will put up enough points to win this game.
The safest bet for this game will be taking the under. Denver is struggling to score points. With the injuries they have, the Browns probably will have a hard time scoring, too. Defense will win this game, and despite the injuries, the Browns have a better one.
Take Cleveland to cover the point spread.