Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos
When: 8:20 PM ET, Saturday, December 15, 2018
Where: Broncos Stadium at Mile High, Denver, Colorado
DENVER – The Denver Broncos’ disheartening setback in their last outing not only ended their promising three-game winning streak, it also positioned them one game behind four others in the mad dash for the sixth and final seed in the AFC playoffs. The Broncos bid to dust themselves off and post their 12th consecutive win over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night when the clubs meet in Denver.
“Our record right now, we’re still in it, and every game now is a must-win. We haven’t talked about that, but we have to now: Every game that we play is a must-win,” coach Vance Joseph said of his Denver team that dropped a 20-14 decision at San Francisco on Sunday to reside behind Baltimore (7-6), Miami (7-6), Indianapolis (7-6) and Tennessee (7-6). Joseph also took aim at offseason acquisition Case Keenum following his third straight sub-200-yard performance, saying that the quarterback “has to make more plays.” Top overall pick Baker Mayfield, however, has found success since Cleveland fired former head coach Hue Jackson and named Freddie Kitchens as the offensive coordinator, throwing 11 touchdowns in his last five games while improving his quarterback rating to 114.4 in that stretch following Sunday’s 26-20 win over Carolina. Mayfield will look to exploit a vulnerable Broncos secondary that is without Pro Bowler Chris Harris Jr. (fractured left fibula) and could be missing fellow cornerbacks Tramaine Brock (ribs) and Isaac Yiadom (separated right shoulder).
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE: Broncos -3. O/U: 45.5
ABOUT THE BROWNS (5-7-1): While Mayfield’s bravado is readily available for the cameras, fellow rookie Nick Chubb has earned the nickname “Old School” for his quiet demeanor. Chubb’s play on the field speaks volumes, however, as the 22-year-old recorded a rushing touchdown in his fifth straight game versus the Panthers and eighth overall (six rushing, two receiving) in seven contests since taking over the starter’s role after Cleveland traded fellow running back Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville. Wideout Jarvis Landry found the end zone twice (one receiving, one rushing) last week and had two touchdown grabs among his seven receptions in his only career encounter at Denver in 2014 while playing with Miami. “You have to get him going early. You have to get that momentum,” Mayfield said of Landry. “Then he is a guy who he feeds off that momentum, that energy and that confidence.”
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (6-7): Linebacker Bradley Chubb told reporters that he won’t ease up on Nick Chubb, who is his second cousin. “I know he’s not going to hold back and he knows I’m not going to hold back,” said Bradley Chubb, who has posted a franchise rookie-record 12 sacks this season. “It’s just going to be a regular football game. You can’t put too much weight on it because then if you start thinking, ‘My cousin’s on the other side,’ you end up getting trucked or something.” Fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay rushed for his sixth touchdown in four games last Sunday, although he was limited to just 30 yards on 14 totes to drop his NFL-best yards per carry average on the season to an impressive 5.8. Lindsay will face Cleveland’s generous 28th-ranked rush defense needing just 33 yards to reach 1,000 on the season.
1. Cleveland DE Myles Garrett has collected 7.5 of his club-high 12.5 sacks in his past seven games.
2. Denver LB Von Miller has recorded 9.5 of his team-best 13.5 sacks in his last eight contests.
3. Browns CB Damarious Randall has two of his club-high four interceptions in the past three games.