The Browns pulled off yet another nail-biting, heart-racing victory at home, and made it back-to-back weeks beating divisional opponents, this time it being the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 13-10 victory. The Browns yet again, relied on kicker Dustin Hopkins for the game-winning field goal, to seal the deal, this time Hopkins made a 34-yarder, to advance the browns to 7-3 on the year, and move to second in the AFC North.
The game was best described for the majority as a stalemate. It was a defensive showdown, with underwhelming offenses, who combined to have 15 punts in total for the game. Responsible for forcing the majority of the punts was the Browns’ defense yet again, coming to play. The Browns held Kenny Pickett to just 106 yards passing, a 53% completion percentage, and a 62.5 QB rating, and made him uncomfortable for the majority of the day.
The Browns’ defense held the Steelers’ offense to just 249 yards in total, and for the majority of the day, forced key punts to give the Browns the possession, especially when the Steelers got the ball with 1:42 remaining, and a chance to go down and win the game. Instead, the defense forced them to a 3 and out, and gave the Browns offense back the ball, with a chance to win the game.
The game was best described as which offense could barely get by, similar to their matchup when they played each other in week two, but this time, it was the Browns on top. The Browns went on a game-winning TD drive, thanks to rookie QB Dorrian Thompson Robinson, who made his second-ever career start and prevailed despite what would be described as, a pretty poor showing for the day. DTR finished with just a 55% completion percentage, with just 165 yards passing, and an interception. He had a poor 54.9 QB rating, and for most of the day looked not ready.
Though that wasn’t the storyline this week, and he made up for his shaky 4 quarters, with a game-winning field goal drive, going 43 yards in a 1:13, and during this stretch went 5/5 with 39 yards, and set up the field goal the go-ahead field goal for Dustin Hopkins. So, the browns hold on to win the game, advance to 7-3 on the season, and go into the ending stretch of the season, with a much different looking team they were hoping to have, and continue to go on a playoff push, despite their starting QB, RB, and RT out for the season. So, the Browns will look to add a win and increase their chances of making the playoffs and fly to Denver to play a Denver Broncos team that has started quite the impressive win streak and is starting to get in a groove.
The Denver Broncos season is best described as a roller coaster one, as Denver went into the season with high hopes after they traded for Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton and gave him a massive 5-year contract that has him making 18 million dollars a year, the second highest contract for a coach in all of American sports. The Denver Faithful hopes were high, and the media and fans were confident that they could make some real noise in the AFC going into the season, well that was not the case.
Denver started the season with some heartbreaking losses, including games to the Raiders, commanders, and Jets, and had one of the worst losses in recent memory, as the Miami Dolphins beat them with a score of 70-20, and it was the most a team has scored in a game since the 1966 season. After the 19-8 loss to the Chiefs in week 6, it put the Denver Broncos at 1-5, discussions of the rebuild were discussed by the media, and trade rumors for some of their key players began brewing.
Well after they lost to the Chiefs in Arrowhead on Thursday night, Denver has completely turned their season around. Denver is now on a 4 game win streak, with notable wins coming up against the Buffalo Bills, the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, and a come-from-behind victory last Sunday night, that saw Russell Wilson lead them on a game-winning td drive, with a 75-yard, 2:14 td drive to steal a win away from the red hot Minnesota Vikings.
So, the Broncos are hot, and a key reason for this is a complete turnaround on the side of the ball that was paralyzing them through the first 6 weeks of the year. Through the first 6 weeks of the season, the Broncos were dead last in a Defensive metric called DVOA, a metric that stands for “defense adjusted value over average and is a metric that defines a team’s efficiency on the defensive side of the ball.”
Through the first 6 weeks, not only were the Broncos dead last in the league with 39.3%, one of the worst percentages in NFL History. Since week 6, the Broncos now have the 9th best in the league, an impressive turnaround to say the least. Causing this improved play is better performances from some of their star players such as star safety Justin Simmons, edge rusher Johnathan Cooper, and linebacker Baron Browning back in the lineup after injury. Despite their turnaround, their slow start to the season still finds them ranking at the bottom of the NFL in some of the major defensive categories.
Denver ranks as the worst defense in football in total yards allowed per game with 400.1 average, rushing yards allowed per game with 160.1, and gives up on average the third most points per game with 26.8. They also give up the 8th most average passing yards per game with 240, and despite their impressive last 4 weeks, have still for the majority of the season been unimpressive, to say the least.
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Russell Wilson has not returned to the form he was in Seattle a few years ago but has definitely improved from a lackluster season he had a year ago. Wilson, through 10 games has more passing touchdowns (19) than he did the entirety of last year (16), has a higher completion percentage (69.0 compared to his 60.5) QB rating (84.4 to 104.4), and has a lower INT % than last year (2.2 now 1.4). His 69.0 completion percentage ranks 7th best in the NFL and his QB rating of 104.3 ranks third best in the NFL.
His turnaround has been a feel-good story and is a contributing factor to this Broncos win streak. Despite Wilsons’ turnaround, the Denver offense is still middle of the pack. as they average the 15th most points per game with 21.7, and find their rushing offense averages the 14th most rushing yards per game with a 110.2 average per game. Though they have some eye-opening offensive stats that have them among the lowest in the NFL, as they ranked as the 10th lowest average yards per game with 300.1, and despite Wilson’s impressive stats, he is still lacking in the passing yards department, as he has the 9th lowest passing yards per game with 191.0.
So, Denver is an interesting team, with stats that have shown they have grown from their rough start but are well far away from being a great team, and this Denver team will face a tough task, against a team that is very similar to themselves, a team on a hot streak.
The Browns season can also be described similarly to the Broncos, as a roller coaster one, as the season health-wise has been a nightmare for the Browns, and this team will be missing some of their key players for the rest of the season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has a Fractured Shoulder in his throwing arm and is out for the year, star running back Nick Chubb has a torn ACL and is out for the year, and Jack Conklin also will be out for the season after a torn ACL and MCL he suffered in week 1 of this season.
This season’s health was far from a season the Browns would have liked to have, but record-wise, I’m not sure it could have gone much better. Having big wins against divisional rival Baltimore Ravens two Sundays ago, and a big win at home this past Sunday against the Steelers, are two to start. Plus beating arguably, a top 3 football team at home, the San Francisco 49ers, has been the collection of wins that has made this Browns team, a team to be respected and feared.
The Browns this season will still have to find the passing game and improve from their passing offense that averages the 7th fewest passing yards per game, with 183.1. The Browns offense also ranks as the 5th least efficient in football and ranks 28th in EPA per drive and 23rd in points per drive. The Browns’ offense has to improve as a group, and the Browns have to have better qb play from DTR, through his two starts is completing just 55% of his throws, 4th worst in all of football, and when he is under center, the browns have been averaging just 212 yards per game, which if continued would be the lowest total average yards per game in the NFL, with the jets as the second worst, being 48 yards better.
Thus, the Browns’ offense has much to be improved, but the story so far this year and going into this week is the leaning on the incredible Browns’ Defense this year, which is on pace for a record-breaking season, and go down as one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. The Browns allow the fewest passing yards (143.7), total yards (243.3), and 6th fewest points per game with 18. Myles Garrett is also the league leader in sacks with 13 and has a legit argument to not only win Defensive Player of the Year, but MVP. So, the script going into this week will be the same it has been all year, get something from this offensive unit, and have better QB play, and have the defense continue to play as they have all season, at a high level.
So, the Browns will go into Denver, hoping to improve to an 8-3 record, and in the event of a Ravens loss, be in first place in the AFC North. The Broncos will look to extend their win streak to 5 and be above .500 for the first time all season. The Broncos would also like to continue their win streak from 4 to 5 and be the first time the Broncos go on a 5-game win streak for the first time in 17 years.
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