Broncos v. Browns - Game Plan and Matchups

The most famous meetings between the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns were a pair of playoff meetings in the 1980s. John Elway led "The Drive" in the AFC Championship Game at the end of the 1986 season to send the Broncos to the Super Bowl. The next year brought "The Fumble." What will this year's meeting bring?

SERIES HISTORY: 21st meeting. The Denver Broncos lead the regular-season series 15-5. The most famous meetings between the teams were a pair of playoff meetings in the 1980s. John Elway led "The Drive" in the AFC Championship Game at the end of the 1986 season to send the Broncos to the Super Bowl. In the AFC Championship Game the following season, a fumble near the goal line by Cleveland clinched a 38-33 win and another Super Bowl appearance for the Broncos.

GAME PLAN: At some point the Broncos want to break out on offense. They couldn't do it against the Raiders and the Browns aren't a pushover on defense. Cleveland is 12th in the NFL in passing defense. Expect the Broncos to open it up more than they did against Oakland, but mostly stay on the ground and avoid turnovers. That's been a winning formula and Denver is likely to stick with it as long as it works.

The Broncos can play that way because their defense is playing so well. They're the only team since 1934 to allow one or no touchdowns in the first five games of a season. They haven't gotten many turnovers, but could be aggressive against Browns quarterback Charlie Frye, who has nine interceptions this season.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos defensive line vs. Browns offensive line: The Browns line has been a weak spot. Cleveland has allowed 16 sacks and is averaging only 3.2 yards per carry. The Broncos starting line is made up of four former Browns. They will be playing a very emotional game after being discarded by Cleveland, which might make Cleveland's offensive line's job even tougher.

Broncos left tackle Matt Lepsis vs. Browns right outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley: The Browns have to get pressure on Plummer, and Wimbley leads the Browns with three sacks. The Broncos like taking advantage of rookie linebackers with their misdirection plays and bootleg passes, so expect to see plenty of them against Cleveland.

Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker vs. Browns cornerback Leigh Bodden: Bodden should play this week after sitting out a game with an ankle injury. Walker has been by far Denver's best receiver this season, so if Bodden can contain him the Broncos will have to find another source of offense in the passing game.

INJURY IMPACT: RB Cedric Cobbs returned to practice on Wednesday. He was out with an ankle injury. He is listed as doubtful for this week's game but is close to returning.

--FB Kyle Johnson did not practice Wednesday because of a sprained ankle. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Johnson could return to practice Thursday and hasn't been ruled out of this week's game.



Voice your opinion on our Broncos Hardcore Message Board


Mile High Huddle Top Stories